Friday, April 23, 2010

Docs, anti-heat kits for lion census volunteers

Docs, anti-heat kits for lion census volunteers
Times of India

Keeping in view the scorching heat that enumerators will have to encounter during the lion census, the forest department is taking all precautions. It will include a team of doctors and a constant supply of drinking water, juices and biscuits for the volunteers participating in the four-day event beginning Saturday.

Among 1,300 volunteers and staff participating in census, there are 12 doctors and 11 researchers. These doctors according to officials would be there to take care of any emergency be it heat stroke or attack by wild animals.

This year's kit would not just take care of the food for the enumerators but also mattresses to rest. "Any enumerator in the fields has to sit down on the ground if he wants to take rest. These mattresses would also come in handy for them. Also a cap and T-shirts marking them as census participants would help them get adequate support from the locals if they have spotted lion in the vicinity," said an officer from forest department.

Deputy conservator of forests, Sasan, Sandeep Kumar says, "The kits would have water bottles, nuts, roasted grams, juices, first aid box, and a mattress." He said that juices would definitely help them beat the heat. A senior officer said that this time there is a separate team to supply food and medication. Principal secretary, state's forest and environment department, SK Nanda says, "During my visit we spotted two cubs with a lioness and also adult leopards, which is a good sign. This means that there is good conservation work happening here. However, these were in category of two-three months and thus vulnerable and hence during the count, this would also be kept in mind."

Nanda says, "We have identified 450 spot after a nine-month long survey of the lion movements and sightings. These include settlement colonies where lions are seen regularly." "The census teams are backed up by GIS and GPS devices for the marking location of lion, spotting places, roaming area of pride and their prey area," he adds.

"The time is perfect for the census as visibility in the jungle is high. One can easily see half a kilometre inside the jungle. The drinking water facility also shrinks, making it easy to monitor the movement of the lions," Nanda explains. For conducting the census, the group comprising of one enumerator, a sub enumerator, volunteer and local guide have to keep an eye over the selected spot continuously for 24 hours.

The computer analysis of census data will start from April 27 with forest department officials and experts from Wildlife Institute experts from Delhi.

Big cat lover Junagadh doc part of team too

Dr B Garana a medical practitioner is extremely excited about his new job in the jungle. Garana is a part of the medical team. He says, "This is my first such experience. Being from Junagadh, I have special attachment with lions. When I learnt about the census preparations, I decided to volunteer and sent my nomination." Lions are not just pride of the state but that of the nation, hence getting associated with census was a matter of pride for me, he adds. Interestingly about 850 medical kits which includes medicines to boost nutrition and beat the heat would have also been sponsored by Garana.

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