Wednesday, April 28, 2010

‘Photography helped eliminate duplication’

'Photography helped eliminate duplication'
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

It was true night safari inside Gir. Census 2010 of the rare Asiatic lions at Gir sanctuary has proved to be a once-in-alifetime experience for many. Kishore Kotecha, a volunteer who was part of the expedition in the photographer category, recalls his experience during the census.

Thanks to volunteers like Kotecha, lion census may have changed for good. Photographs clicked by Kotecha proved critical in the lion census. This helped the forest officials ensure that one lion was not counted twice. Kotecha recounts that on Monday midnight, they got a wireless message about a lion being spotted. They rushed the spot.

"It was a full moon night and we saw a lion squatting. A range forest officer pulled out his Glopal Positioning System (GPS) and noted the exact location. I was asked to take the photograph. We were just 50 ft away from the lion and it was dark and hence I had to use flash. The lion seemed nonchalant. This encouraged me and then without disturbing the aminal I clicked several pictures," said Kotecha.

Deputy conservator of forest Aradhana Sahu was then informed of the spotting. Kotecha further said that this continued throughout the night and in the morning again they got the location of a lion. Again photos were clicked and while comparing these pictures, it became clear that the lion clicked in the night was the same as the one found in the morning. Immediately, the count which they were estimating to be six was scaled down to five for their sub zone.

Kotecha said the officials were aware of the count in their territory. Hence when the tracking team failed to trace a lioness with four cubs, DCF Sahu immediately asked the team to locate it and finally it was done. He said the officials specially near Gir sanctuary kept motivating the staff and were on the move throughout the night.

Kishore Kotecha with a team member during the census in Girnar range

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