Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Poachers kill three Asiatic Lions

Hello friends,


Last weekend was not good for Asiatic Lions. On Sunday people all over India were busy celebrating Holi with vibrant colours but there was a shock wave in Gir forest and nature lovers. Three lionesses were killed mercilessly by poachers for sake of few thousands rupees. When people were celebrating forest department was busy with investigating. This is a very serious incidence not only because we have lost two reproductive lionesses and one sub-adult lioness but also because this may convey a wrong signal to other poachers that it is easy to poach lions! It is utmost important that poachers involved in this incidence are caught. If any of you have a clue about the incidence please let us know so that we can pass on the same to concerned forest officials and investigating team. Together lets try and get hold of culprits.


Hereunder I have attached stories from Times of India print edition, DNA net edition and Indian Express net edition.


Kishore Kotecha

Asiatic Lion Protection Society

Rajkot, Gujarat, India

em: info@asiaticlion.org  URL;www.asiaticlion.org




Poachers kill three Gir Lions

Source: Time of India Print Edition Dated. March 6, 2007


Rajkot: Poachers struck with a vengeance in Gir sanctuary by killing three Asiatic lionesses and escaping with their claws, skulls and bones in Babaria range of the sanctuary. This came to light even as state forests and environment minister Mangu Patel assured the Assembly on Monday that the government was providing adequate protection to the big casts in and outside the sanctuary.


The skinned carcasses of two adult lionesses and a sub-adult lioness were found by forest officials in the sanctuary on Saturday evening. Portions of skin along with parts of intestines were found scattered in the area.


The last time poachers had struck was in August 2005 when two Gir lions were killed and their claws were ripped out. Two people had been arrested in this connection, according Conservator of Forest (Gir West) Bharat Pathak. Earlier, a gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh had been caught.


Following the fresh case of poaching, Chief Wildlife Warden of Gujarat announced a reward of Rs.50000 for anyone who provides a clue about the poachers. Pathak said, “The spot from where the pieces of skin were recovered is situated a km away from Babriya-Una highway. The forest authorities were informed about the incidence by local people on Saturday evening.”


Pathak said the forest authorities have sought assistance from forensic and police personnel to locate the poachers. He said the viscera of the big cats were sent to Junagadh Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). According to Pathak, a particular gang might be operating in the business of body parts of wild animals.



Government silent of shifting (Asiatic Lion) base

Source: Time of India Print Edition Dated. March 6, 2007

Gandhinagar: The Asiatic Lion, frequently found straying from its habitat, may get a bigger home by expanding the Gir sanctuary, the state Govt. told the assembly on Monday. However, it remained silent on the question of shifting the lions outside Gujarat.


Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel admitted in the assembly that lions were found straying outside the Gir sanctuary right up to Bhavnagar, but he avoided a question by Asarwa MLA Pradeepsinh Jadeja on whether there was a move to shift the lions outside Gujarat. Patel said that the big cats were found straying as far as Girnar, Hippawadli, Jesar, Palitana, Sutrapada, Una and Kodinar spread over Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.


Replying to another question, Patel said the recent census had pegged the total lions at 359, which was 32 more compared to 2001 census. The 2005 census had revealed that lions had moved out of the sanctuary because of increase in population. Experts feel that the Gir sanctuary was adequate to accommodate up to 290 lions, which means that the population had overshot by 70 lions compared to the size of the habitat.


Patel, however, maintained that the Government was giving the beasts adequate security and was exploring various proposals to extend the protected sanctuary area to parts of Bhavnagar district. The Government was educating the people in the area where theses beasts stray, in a bid to sensitise them.


To another question by BJP MLA Mansukh MAndavia, patel said the straying big cats had killed 146 animals in the last two years in Bhavnagar district alone. Of this, 68 incidence were those of lions praying on cattle. Patel clarified that the big cats were not moving out of the sanctuary in search of prey, but could not reason why the lions were straying despite the authorities ensuring adequate prey for the beasts.



Opposition lull during the Question Hour

Source: Ahmedabad News Line. (Express News Service Net Edition) Dated 5th March 2007 http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=225144



Assembly sidelights

* Lion Retail line: A discussion in the House over increasing lion population in Gir wildlife sanctuary had an excited member from the treasury benches ask the Forest Minister whether the government planned any supply of Asiatic Lions to his constituency in the Dangs. Another minister wanted to know if with the increased population, a Lion safari could be started in Panchmahals!

* Our representatives, removed from reality? On a day when reports came of recovery of three lion carcasses poached in high security Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, BJP MLAs were congratulating Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel in the House for successfully increasing the lion population from 327 in 2001 to 359 in 2005.



Gir forest fails to guard its lionesses

Source: DNA Net Edition Date: March 05, 2007 http://dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1083174


AHMEDABAD/RAJKOT: The human-animal conflict reared its gory head again on Saturday afternoon when forest officials found carcasses of three lionesses in Babariya village near Gir Sanctuary — minus their claws and teeth!


In what is turning out to be a well-planned poaching case, initial investigations have revealed that the lionesses were systematically trapped through a leg trap with ropes along three pits. The carcasses were found near the Jamwada-Una highway. Two of these were adult and one sub-adult. Parts of their body like tail, legs etc have also been found scattered at different locations.


“The area is inhabited by approximately 20-25 lions and this kind of poaching is taken as a serious threat to the wildlife of the sanctuary,” said Bharat Pathak, Conservative of Forest, Wildlife Circle, Junagadh. The forest department has taken the help of a forensic laboratory to further investigate into the matter.


Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Pradeep Khanna, said that his department was under “tremendous pressure from various sources because of the incident”.


“An offence has been registered and we are thoroughly investigating the matter,” he said. Sources inform that claws and teeth of a lion fetch around Rs 500 per nail totaling up to Rs 10,000 per animal, including the teeth.


Incidents of lions getting electrocuted due to barbed fences and villagers throwing poison on lions wandering into farms is common, but this kind of systematic poaching is a first.


“Lions’ skin does not fetch a high price, but its claws are revered by many tribes as a sign of manhood. None of the known gangs are believed to be operating in the region,” said Sanat Chawan, a Baroda-based wildlife activist.


“It is an example of man-animal conflict. The Gir forest area is spread over 5,000 sq km, surrounded by 100 villages. Lions venture out into farms, damaging crops and cattle,” Chavan added.




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