Most of us know about Kedarnath Temple but we hardly know the region that surrounds this enchanting place. Yes, this area is of utmost importance as it holds something unique and precious. The landscapes of alpine forests and alpine meadows of the Western Himalayas are a home to some threatened species of wildlife. This region is the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary which is spread across Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand.
Entering the Sanctuary From Chopta
Photo Courtesy: dirk.hartung
It is also known as Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary because of the Himalayan Musk deer who form the flagship species of this reserve.
The Himalayan Musk Deer
The Himalayan Musk deer belong to the musk deer species and are mainly found in the Himalayan regions. The Himalayan Musk deer are light brown in colour without any white spots. They have thick coarse of hair which protects them from extreme cold weather. Males are extremely territorial and do not let males from other clan to enter their group and the females live in small groups.
Himalayan Musk Deer
Unfortunately, The Himalayan Musk deer are endangered species in India. A wax secretion called musk created in the male musk deer is used in cosmetics and medicines. The musk is very valuable and hence the Himalayan Musk deer are poached. This has resulted in the decline of their population.
Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary
A captive breeding centre was set up in Kharachula Kharak inside the sanctuary. This helped in increasing the population of the musk deer. However, it was not that successful as the deer died for different reasons like climatic conditions, mortality rates and infections. So, one musk deer was relocated to Darjeeling Zoo.
Fortunately, some musk deer are said to be roaming around in the sanctuary in recent times. This has given a relief to the wildlife conservationists who feared that it has disappeared completely.
Photo Courtesy: Dibyendu Ash
Other Animals in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
Mammals like Snow leopards, common langur, Himalayan black bear, leopard cat, yellow-throated martin, red giant flying squirrels, etc. live in this sanctuary. Several exotic birds like snow partridge, grey-cheeked warbler, khalij pheasant and Himalayan Monals are also found here.
Photo Courtesy: Kmishra19
Religious Places Near Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
In fact, Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary derives its name from the famous Kedarnath Temple. Yes, visitors have to go through the sanctuary to reach Kedarnath Temple in Uttarakhand. Kedarnath Temple is in the outskirts of the wildlife sanctuary.
Other important religious places like Madhyameshwar, Tungnath, Mandani, Rudranath, Gopeshwar and Anasuya Devi are some of the places near Kedarnatha Wildlife Sanctuary.
Best Time to Visit Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
The weather conditions are extreme as it is in the Himalayan region. The sanctuary is open only during the months of April to June and September to November.
How to Reach Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary
Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary is around 45km from Chopta and 105 km from Rishikesh. Kedarnath is around 110km from Dehradun.
By Train: Rishikesh Railway Station is the nearest railway station.
By Air: Dehradun Airport is the nearest airport to reach Kedarnath.
It is sad that musk deers are poached and it has pushed them to the endangered list. Only a few deers are surviving as of now. Some how it becomes everybody's responsibility to protect the wildlife and that helps in ecological balance.