Wednesday, March 07, 2007

March 7, 2007's Update on three Asiatic Lioness poaching

Poachers find many roads to Gir

Ahmedabad Newsline (Indian Express Net edition) Date 07-03-2007


Rajkot, March 6: With seven highways, as many roads and pilgrimage routes passing through it, Gir sanctuary may be providing ‘refuge’ to more than just the Asiatic lion.


In view of the easy accessibility to the sanctuary that the roads and the highways may provide to poachers, the recent poaching case has raised security concerns, said Forest Department officials on Tuesday.


“The poaching of two lionesses and a cub, the carcasses of which were found on the Babaria-Una road on March 3, has for the first time indicated that professional poachers have entered Gir,” said Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Bharat Pathak on Tuesday.

The forest department has already begun checking records of vehicles that passed through the Babaria-Una road, which is open to visitors all day. “Given the accessibility to poachers, the open highways now raise serious security concerns.


The department needs to be more alert to prevent any untoward incident in the future,’’ he said.


Forest Department officials admit the need for greater vigil and co-ordination within the department to keep eye on the seven highways including Dhari-Tulsishyam, Dhari-Kodinar, Kasia-Sasan, Devadia, Talal-Una and Kankai-Tulsishyam. The Kankai-Tulsishyam highway passes through the heart of the sanctuary, which is home to nearly 359 lions.


According to officials, while efforts to close the highways have failed, their closure might lead to other problems.


“They are being used by locals, who help in conservation of the forest. Before a decision is taken on the issue, the needs of the local people will have to be considered as well,” said Pathak.


Meanwhile, around seven persons with vehicles were detained for questioning by the Forest Department on Monday.




Gir poaching: Hunt on for culprits, no arrests yet

Ahmedabad Newsline (Indian Express Net edition) Date 07-03-2007 By: Sibte Husain Bukhari


Junagadh, March 6: With no clues available, the State Forest Department has started the tedious task of checking records of vehicles plied on the Babaria-Una road in the last week, in an attempt trace the poachers who killed two lionesses and a cub around March 1. But with hundreds of vehicles using the road daily, it is an uphill task to verify each and every vehicle and the antecedents of the occupants of the vehicles while inside the sanctuary. Sources said, a few suspect registration numbers of vehicles which passed through the sanctuary have been identified and records are being checked.


Though the forest department has declared a reward of Rs 50,000 for providing correct information, nothing concrete has been emerged and no arrests have been made. However, forest department’s special investigation team started intensified drive to nab the culprits and investigation is going on in various directions.


When contacted, Deputy Conservator of Forests (Gir-West) B L Shukla said, “I have visited Veraval railway station on Tuesday and communicated with Gujarat railway police and Railway protection force’s official. They have been asked to keep close eye on trains bound to Madhya Pradesh. As in this case too, considering previous incidents,MP gang’s possible involvement is highly suspected.” Beside pamphlets have been distributed in villages existed on forest-revenue border, he added.


Conservator of forest (wild life) Bharat Pathak said, “Investigation is going on and suspects have been questioned but no one is detained so far.” He added that under Wild life (protection) Act 1972, killing of lion is serious crime. Accused person, if convicted, is liable for three to seven years’ imprisonment and fine or both.


Deputy conservator of forest (Sasan-Gir) Maneshwar Raja has said, “Entire forest staff of Gir east and west forest division have been alerted.”





‘Link between deaths, trend of wearing paws’

Ahmedabad Newsline (Indian Express Net edition) Date 07-03-2007


Gandhinagar, March 6: There are more than 5,000 men in Saurashtra region wearing lion paws, said Babra BJP MLA Bavkubhai Unghad in House on Tuesday. The allegation came a day after Forest Department confirmed that two lionesses and a cub had been killed by poachers.


Unghad was speaking on his special calling attention motion in the Assembly on the issue of two lion cub deaths in Dhari (Amreli) on February 24, much to the chagrin of Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel.


In his speech, Unghad said it was fashionable in Saurashtra to wear lion paws, and sought to know from the government whether it intended to investigate a possible connection between the increasing lion deaths and the trend.


On February 24, two lion cubs were found drowned in a 60-feet deep well from the fields of one Jilubhai Jebalia in Gadhia village of Dhari taluka. The village falls in the Dalkhani range of the Gir (East) forest division.


Unghad informed the House that from the site of the incident, the forest officials also found marks of a four-wheeler. According to the MLA, despite complaints, the foresters have failed to investigate the possibility of the cubs falling and dying in the well after being chased by some people.


In response to the motion, Mangubhai Patel, told the House that the site of the incident was 5-6 kms from the sanctuary boundary, and that following government intervention, any connection between the vehicle marks and the cub deaths was now being investigated.


During the debate on the same issue, in response to a question raised by BJP MLA Sunil Oza, the minister said that in the last five years, Gir sanctuary has reported 37 similar incidents with 19 lions dying after falling into wells. Against this, 18 big cats were saved from drowning by the efforts of the foresters.


On a query by Palitana MLA Mansukh Mandavia, Patel said Gir sanctuary has 275 wells, of which 198 have been covered and another 77 fenced by the forest department to prevent lions from falling into them. Also, another 637 wells that lie immediately outside the sanctuary area have also been covered, said Patel.


As per the official version about the Dhari incident, as explained by the minister in the House, at the time of the incident, a lioness with its six cubs was eating a dead blue bull killed by a pride a couple of days ago. The two cubs moved towards the well and fell into it.



Wells are biggest enemies of Gir Lions in Gujarat

Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad Date: 6-3-2007


In the last five years there were as many as 37 instances when lions in the Gir sanctuary fell in wells. Of these 19 drowned while 18 could be rescued by forest staff and local people. This is despite the fact that almost all 274 wells in the prohibited area of the Gir forest have some kind of protection around them.


Even the wells in the area on the periphery of the sanctuary are covered. A week before two lionesses and a cub were killed by poachers, two cubs died because of drowning. The incident took place in the Gadhia village of Dhari taluka. They fell in a well in the farm of villager while they were playing.


Forest and Environment Minister pointed out that people had seen two lionesses and six cubs in that farm on February 24 with a kill. While the elders were enjoying the kill, the cubs played around and two of them fell into the well. It is 60 foot deep and its level is lower than the ground level. This resulted into the fall of the cubs, he said.



Gir forest authorities launched manhunt of poachers

Hindustan Times Date: 6-3-2007,000900040003.htm


Gir forest authorities have suddenly woken up from their slumber and launched a massive manhunt following brutal poaching of two lionesses and one lioness, which they discovered after coming across their horribly degenerated carcasses on Saturday, long after the killers had fled with all the priceless bones and claws of the big cats.


According to forest authorities, this is the first time in the history of Gir that a lioness has been killed by professional hunters.


Even as the forest officials are beginning to wear a mask of innocence, as has been their wont, more and more shocking details of the gruesome incident and their serious carelessness towards their duties are coming in.

















The big cats were hunted, and subsequently butchered to rip off their bones and claws, presumably on Thursday, according to locals. But till Saturday evening, no forest guard or official knew anything about the poaching despite the  Babariya Range chowky being hardly 500 metre from the place of incident. It required a local person to inform the forest authorities that decomposed carcasses of big cats were lying near their  chowky.


It has been further revealed that not only bones and claws but also the skulls of the Asiatic lions were missing. All that the forest officials could recover from the spot were scattered pieces of the animals' skin and flesh, which they have sent for forensic tests. The reported will be available in a couple of days, according to forest officials.


Highly placed sources in the forest department said that three pits at some distance and traps made of steel wire were found near the spot of poaching. Clearly, the poachers had planned everything quite meticulously. With the foresters busy in "other activities" and enjoying their slumber, there was no one to watch them to execute their plan. In fact, it would have been surprising if they had not succeeded in their deadly designs.


Besides police, the forest authorities have also sought help of the dog squad of the investigating agencies to nab the criminals. But to no avail. They have also kept a vigil on each and every train going from Veraval and Junagadh. They have interrogated eleven men on the grounds of suspicion but their inquiry has borne no fruits.


A gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh was caught, before it could harm the big cats or other animals, by the Gir authorities a few years ago. Nothing questionable or suspicious was found from them. Keeping this in mind, some forest officials now believe that the poaches of lionesses and lion may have come from outside  Gujarat and, having done their job, must have escaped to their destinations.


Meanwhile, nature lovers and wildlife activists, headed by Gir Nature Youth Club (GNYC), have demanded a high-level official inquiry into the poaching of big cats and demanded resignation of the  Gujarat forest and environment minister Mangubhai Patel and immediate termination from duty of certain officials.







No comments:

Previous Posts