Source: Ahmedabad Newsline Date: 16-2-2007 By: D P Bhattacharya
GIR: Foundation’s project to barricade wells in Amreli already on
Ahmedabad, February 15: To reduce mortality rate of Gir’s Asiatic lions and bring down frequency of man-animal conflicts, the State Forest Department and the Vanishing Herds Foundation (VHF) have come up with a number of measures keeping in mind the concerns of locals living in the vicinity of the Gir Sanctuary.
According to VHF governing body member Arobinda Sinha Roy, the VHF has begun a project to construct barricades around open wells in Amreli district. “Open wells in Saurashtra region do not have protective walls around them,” said Sinha Roy adding that in recent years, 20 lions and cubs have died after falling into wells. The project began in 2006. So far, we have barricaded 12 wells in Amreli district. By March 2007, we hope to complete barricading at least 100 wells. After that, we will focus on barricading 250 wells every 12 months,” said Sinha Roy.
The State Forest Department has been helping the VHF identify the wells, he said adding: “Our strategy is simple. Once a well has been identified, we enter into an agreement with villagers, who then construct the walls. We provide the money and monitor the construction.”
The VHF has also placed a global positioning system (GPS) along the wells for audit purposes. “The project is quite challenging as construction of each barricade involves expenditure of approximately Rs 12,000. There are around 1,000 open wells in Amreli district alone,” he added. Moving on to incidents of man-animal conflict, Sinha Roy said, “Lions venturing out of Gir more often than not target livestock of maldharis. The attack on cattle often provokes maldharis to poison or electrocute the lions. There are around 7,500 people and 14,000 livestock in the area around the Gir sanctuary.”
According to Sinha Roy, man-animal conflicts can be attributed to delay in compensation to people whose kin or livestock die in man-animal conflicts or are carried away by lions.
“The compensation offered by the government takes about six to seven months to reach the people. The VHF is planning to set up its own ‘float fund’ of Rs 5-6 lakh so that people are compensated in a week’s time. An MoU is being worked out with the State Forest Department in this regard. The MoU proposes that as soon as a ‘kill’ is surveyed by the forest department outside the protected area, the VHF will be given a copy of the order. The foundation would then settle claims within two-three days, for which it would be reimbursed by the government. We feel that such a measure would go a long way in minimising man-animal conflicts,” he said.
Confirming this, State Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Pradip Khanna said that while the department had increased the compensation amount by about 40 per cent for ‘kills’ made by lions last year, the tie-up with VHF would help in speedy disbursal of the same.
Saving Gir’s Asiatic lions to be focus of symposium
Kishore Kotecha's comments on this article:
Efforts of Vanishing Heard Foundation are not only worth appreciating but deserves millions of best wishes from Asiatic Lion Fans. I would be thankful to any of you in contact with this foundation to convey my message to their Governing body.
Also, they seem to have a good financial resource. I strongly recommend to them to do a survey on whether few Asiatic lion pairs should be translocated to Kuno Palpur MP or not? The survey should be done throughout the globe by electronic mail amongst conservationists, cat specialists and wildlife organisations. The result might be eye-opener for everybody.
Asiatic Lion Protection Society –
Find Everything about ASIATIC LION & GIR at www.asiaticlion.org