Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Relocation of 376 Families and 3 Forest Villages from Gir Lion Reserves
PIB Press Release
Preparatory measures for relocation including adequate publicity in local language have been undertaken for relocation of 376 families and 3 forest villages from Gir Lion Reserve. This has been informed by the Government of Gujarat to the Minuistry The Government of Gujarat has submitted a proposal titled 'A plan for consolidating long term conservation of Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) at the Greater Gir region including the Gir Protected Area System'. The proposal also includes a component for relocation of 376 families and 3 forest villages from Gir.
The Planning Commission has 'in principle' approved an amount of Rs.262.36 crores for a period of five years for this project proposal and suggested that financial assistance under the project may be met out of the ongoing scheme of 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats'. As the fund allocation under the scheme 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats' is meager, the project for lion could not be accommodated within this scheme.
This information was given by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests (independent charge) Shri Jairam Ramesh in a written reply to a question by Shri Natuji Halaji Thakor in Rajya Sabha today.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Guns out for maneater on the prowl
Forest dept unleashes a 50-strong team of hunters, trackers with orders to shoot after leopard attacks kill 4 in villages near Surat
As panic gripped villagers in Mandvi and Mahuva taluka — four have died in leopard attacks in the last few months — forest officials have unleashed a 50-strong team of hunters, trackers, and lion experts from Gir to track and if necessary, shoot to kill the big cats that seem to have turned maneaters.
The foresters are trying to ascertain if it is a lone leopard, which is responsible for the four deaths.
Deputy Conservator of Forest A G Vasawa said, "We have launched a hunt. We have fired two rounds at one leopard who got injured but escaped in the standing crops of sugarcane. This is for the first time in south Gujarat that shoot-at-sight orders have been given by chief conservator of forests as the leopard seems to have turned a maneater. Similar order was given in the Panchmahals a few years ago when leopards killed eight persons in different villages. We are trying our best to catch them or shoot them."
Forest officials have also invited prince Yuvrajsinh Bhagirathsinh of Utera village nearby Ahmedabad and one Mohammedbhai from Rander, both professional hunters, to kill the leopard.
On late Friday night, the team was able to spot a leopard just a kilometre away from Vareli village in Mandvi taluka. The officials fired two rounds. The big cat was injured and blood stains could be seen in the sugarcane fields. The team followed the trail but the leopard remained elusive.
On Saturday morning, forest officials rushed to Bhatkai village in Mandvi taluka after the village sarpanch informed them that the injured leopard had been trapped in the cage but officials said it was not the one responsible for the four deaths.
The team on the hunt comprises over 50 foresters, among them experts from Sasan Gir who deal with lions and lionesses. But experts said there is vast difference in the behaviuor of leopards and lions. Leopards, they said, are more alert and easily hide in the bushes, whereas lions often attack frontally.
On November 18, two young leopards were caught in a cage placed on the river banks, while another one was caught in a cage kept in sugarcane fields in Kamlapore village of Mandvi taluka. The third one, however, broke the cage somehow and escaped before forest officials could reach the spot. The other two, both nearly one-year-old, were taken to the local forest office and one of them died on Friday night.
The forest officials have installed over 25 cages in seven villages where pug marks of leopards were seen earlier.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Lion-Leopard on the same kill!
Briefly translated from Gujarati
In an unusual event, a lion and a leopard were found eating one bullock at the same time!
This incidence happened on the outskirts of Khilawad village, on the boundry of eastern Gir Forest. A bullock was hunted by a lion. Farmers Himabhai Bhalada and Rasikbhai Padshala show this usual scene of their village while going to their farm. But in the afternoon the scene changed. They show the lion on one side and a leopard on the other side of the same bullock, enjoying the feast at the same time. This was unusual! Normally leopard is scared away by the lion and does'nt permit to share its prey even in absence. Two leopards do share their prey but not lion and leopard.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Asiatic lions to spend quieter evenings in Gir
Times of India
If you thought you could take a shortcut through the Gir forest and breach the king of the jungle's privacy in the night, here's some news for you. The forest department, in keeping with the safety of the wild cats, especially the females, has decided to ban entry of vehicles on all roads within the sanctuary after sunset.
Principal secretary (forest and environment) SK Nanda said there were several roads passing through the sanctuary.
These roads were open even after sunset, so we have decided to close all of them soon after darkness. He also said that several speed breakers have been constructed on the road connecting Sasan and Talala. These breakers have been constructed at regular intervals to ensure that people are not driving above 40 km per hour speed.
Nanda said that these measures are being taken by the forest department with a view to provide adequate safety to the animals and also give them safe passage. Usually, the speed at which animals cross the road in the night is less than that of the speeding vehicles. So, there is always a fear of accidents taking place. It was to provide extra security to the animals that the move to close the roads after sunset has been taken. However, in case of emergencies, there will be no restrictions.
Not just villagers, even heavy vehicles traverse on some of these stretches, making a rattling noise and leaving behind clouds of smoke. In the last couple of years, there has been an increase in the inflow of visitors in the protected habitat. The sanctuary is spread over nearly 1,500 sq km and houses 298 lions according to the last census. In all, there are 411 lions in the Gir and the surrounding areas.
The sanctuary had turned into a virtual thoroughfare connecting Junagadh and Amreli. Not just the Visavadar-Dhari stretch, there are some 10 roads passing through the sanctuary. At least 600 vehicles pass through the Una-Talala and Dhari-Una stretches in the Gir every day. The traffic is nonstop even at night.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Land prices shoot up; new hotels coming up
Times of India By Nayan Dave & Himanshu Kaushik
The hopes of an increase in tourism activity in and around Sasan and Dhari areas have not only drawn the attention of businessmen for setting up five luxury hotels but also helped in doubling land prices in Dhari in the past few months.
In Sasan, Amitabh Bachchan's visit to the Gir sanctuary has drawn the attention of businessmen to tap possible flow of high-end tourists to the Asiatic lion's abode. Around five luxury hotel projects are on the anvil near the Gir forest.
In Dhari, the land prices have almost doubled as the state government has begun the process of setting up an interpretation centre on the lines of Devalia in the Ambardi area.
Officials said that the price of the land which was between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh per bigah is now Rs 6-7 lakh. Sources said that towards the Dhari-Sarasia and Tulsishyam road, prices have suddenly increased. The government has recently begun the development of the Ambardi interpretation zone, which has raised hopes of increased tourism activity. Officials said that the number of those visiting Devalia was 1,35,200.
Meanwhile, the Amitabh impact can also be seen in Sasan. Developers are not only coming from within Gujarat but brands like Tata and Club Mahindra are amongst the few that want to extend their presence in the area. The Tata group is re-opening the 29-room 'Gir Lodge' with newly developed brand 'Gateway'. Tatas have taken a property on lease from Tourism Corporation of Gujarat (TCGL) way back in 1995. However, the hotel with picturesque view of Hiran River and the Vasadoor hills in Sasan is closed since a decade.
"Sasan is already a unique product and now it is powered by iconic brand Amitabh Bachchan. Asiatic lion safari, a world class product would boost high-end tourism in the region. Keeping this fact in mind, the decision to renovate the property has been taken. We plan to re-open the hotel before the end of March 2011," said PK Mohankumar, COO, The Gateway Hotel.
Club Mahindra has entered into a lease agreement with the promoters of Wonderland Resort that was commissioned last year. "The pact was inked immediately after the superstar completed shooting inside the forest last month," said a source at the three-star resort.
Rajkot-based Sanjayraj Group, with interests in real estate, hospitality and education, is also developing a five-star resort on 30 acres of land. "We are developing an eco-friendly theme-based resort at an estimated cost of Rs 30 crore (excluding land). The 100-room property is aimed at attracting high-end domestic as well as foreign tourists," said Indranil Rajguru, chairman of the company.
Another Rajkot -based realty company, Kotecha Group, is in the process of commissioning a four-star hotel in December this year. "The construction of the 30-room property started six months ago. Now we have decided to speed up the work to open the hotel in this tourist season itself," said Kishor Kotecha, director of the company.
Ahmedabad-based realty firm, Popular Group, is diversifying into hospitality to develop a five-star eco-friendly resort near Sasan on 30 acres of land. Nilay Patel, CEO of the group, said that the company is in the process of acquiring land.
Even the Gujarat government is in the process of creating a 'Little Africa', an eco-friendly resort in a bid to provide employment to youth of the African-origin Sidi community settled in the Saurashtra region. The theme-based resort to be developed on 25 acres of land would be promoted by global giant IBM. The tribal development department of the state government has entered into a tie-up with IBM India for the Rs 10 crore project (excluding land).
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tourism activities increase
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
The hopes of a increase in the tourism activity in and around Sasan and Dhari area, has not only drawn the attention of the businessman for setting up five luxury hotel but towards Dhari the land prices have almost doubled in the past few months.
Reasons: Towards Sasan, the Hindi film Icon Amitabh Bachchan's visit to Gir Sanctuary has drawn attention of businessmen to tap possible flow of high-end tourists in the Asiatic Lion's abode. Around five luxury hotel projects are on the anvil near the Gir forest.
While towards, Dhari the land prices have almost doubled as the State Government has began the process of setting up an interpretation center on the lines of Devalia in Ambardi area.
Officials said that the prices of the land which were priced between 1.5 to tthree lakh per bigah was now priced at 6-7 lakhs. Sources said that towards the Dhari-Sarasia and Tulsishyam road the prices have suddenly increased. The Government has recently begun the development of the Ambardi interpretation zone which has raised hope of increased tourist activity. Officials said that the number of those visiting Devalia was 1,35,200.
Meanwhile the Amitabh impact can also be seen towards Sasan. The developers are not only from within Gujarat but brand like Tata and Club Mahindra are amongst the few to extend its presence in lion country. Tata group is re-opening 29-room 'Gir Lodge' with newly developed brand 'Gateway'. Tatas have taken a property on lease from Tourism Corporation of Gujarat (TCGL) way back in 1995. However, the hotel with picturesque view of Hiran River and the Vasadoor hills in Sasan is closed since a decade.
"Sasan is already a unique product and now it is powered by iconic brand Amitabh Bachchan. Asiatic Lion Safari, a world class product has been justified with the mega campaign, which would boost high-end tourism in the region. Looking to the fact, decision to renovate the property has been taken. We plan to re-open the hotel before the end of March 2011," said PK Mohankumar, COO The Gateway Hotel.
Club Mahindra has come into lease agreement with the promoters of Wonderland Resort that was commissioned only last year. The pact was inked immediately after the superstar completed shooting inside the forest last month," said a source active in the 3-star resort.
Rajkot based Sanjayraj Group, which is having interest in Real-estate, hospitality and education is also developing a 5-star category resort on 30 acres of land. "We are developing eco-friendly theme based resort at an estimated cost of Rs 30 crore (excluding land). The 100 room property is aimed at attracting high-end domestic as well as foreign tourists," said Indranil Rajguru, chairman of the company.
Another Rajkot based realty company Kotecha Group is in the process to commission a 4-star hotel in December this year. "Construction of 30 room property was kicked start six months back. Now we have decided to speed-up the work to open the hotel in this tourist season only," said Kishor Kotecha, director of the company.
Ahmedabad based realty firm Popular Group is diversifying into hospitality to develop 5-star eco-friendly resort near Sasan on 30 acres of land. Nilay Patel, CEO of the group said that the company is in the process of acquiring land.
Even Gujarat government is also in the process of creating 'Little Africa', an eco-friendly resort in a bid to provide employment to youth of the African-origin Sidi community settled in Saurashtra region. The theme-based resort to be developed on 25 acres of land would be promoted by global giant IBM. The tribal development department of the state government has entered into a tie-up with IBM India for the Rs. 10 crore project (excluding land).
Farmers have field day hosting 'sleep with lions' for tourists
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
Some tourists who did the Asiatic lion tour in Diwali took the Big B line - "Agar aap sher dil hai to rahiye sheron ke sath" - in the Gujarat tourism ad campaign, 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki,' very seriously. These bravehearts who ventured into the heavily-packed Gir in the Diwali vacations were forced to spend the nights in the open fields in make shift tents, right in the den of the jungle king.
With the tourism infrastructure unable to cope with the tourist traffic, local farmers set up makeshift tents in their fields and let them out to make a quick buck. These tents were all over the field on a 10 to 15 km stretch between Sasan and Talala. Each of these tents were available for Rs 500-1000 per night, depending on what facilities one asked for.
A senior forest officer admitted that the proposition was fraught with risk as tents were set up exactly where wild animals, especially big cats prowled at nights. However, the forest department was not in a position to do anything, as fields were in the revenue area.
Also, since these tents were in private fields there prerequisite permission was not required. Officials said that Sasan Gir could host over 5000 guests daily, but the room capacity in Gir was barely of 400 beds. Of these, around 200 beds were in good hotels, while the rest were in shabby places and even these were occupied.
This year, Gir, between November 4 and November 13, saw over 33,000 tourists who took the lion safari. However, this figure was almost double as several people chose to visit Devaliya park after failing to get permits for Gir.
Officials said that beat guards networked with farmers to set up these tents and entered into a business partnership with them where they got a commission for every tourist they recommended for these farm stays.
A farmer refusing to be identified said the villagers had set up over 20 tents, and from November 6 to15 all these tents were booked. He said that the guests were warned that they would only get tents to sleep in and no other services would be available.
Another beat guard said that he had earned around Rs 20,000 through this network. He had partnered with a farmer and had taken tourist who could not find accommodation and got 30 per cent of what the farmer earned. He said that they had around 10 tents in one field and another 10 in nearby field.
State tourism minister Jaynarayan Vyas admits that tourism facilities are lacking in the state. "Tourism was no where in the focus in the past. It was only before three years that the tourism was given its due weightage. This is a service sector and one has to constantly go in for upgradation of the facilities," he said.
Gir locals offer instant homestays to meet tourist rush
Times of India By Himashu Kaushik
Archana Khatau came with her family of seven from Indore to tour Gujarat. They failed to get accommodation at Somnath so they headed for Gir, having seen the ads promising tents and rooms.
But when they reached Gir, everything was packed. Till they met Rameshbhai, a local resident who had a bed and breakfast plan ready for them. He let out two rooms of his house for Rs 1,000 a night, after cleaning up the bathrooms and replacing the bed linen. "It was a nice experience to stay in the homes. The locals were too cordial and provided us the facility which matched with the hotels here."
Like Rameshbhai, many beat guards tied up with cab drivers to set up bed and breakfast facilities, anticipating a rush, following the promos featuring brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. For instance, a two-storey house just opposite Sinh Sadan, the official guest house of the forest department in Gir, hosted 10 families.
The local residents, sensing the lack of infrastructure at the most sought after destination during the festive season, decided to make some fast cash and hence they rented out portion of their houses to tourists.
At least six to seven locals including a couple of taxi operators, forest guides and beat guards had converted their residences illegally into guest houses. Rameshbhai told TOI, "We are a family of eight people and we decided to accommodate ourselves in one room and the other two were given to tourists." He said that their rates per night began at Rs 500. "But if they wanted a package with food, the charge was over Rs 1000, depending on the number of members," he said.
Rameshbhai's family, during the days they played host, were forced to change their own schedules to make their guests comfortable. "We used to get up early in the morning and finished our routine before the guests got out of their rooms. For those who wished, routine Gujarati food was served."
Mohammad Yusuf, a beat guard, too was among the hosts and let out rooms for Rs 1000 per night. Recalling an incident, he said, "South Indian Aditya Prakash from Chennai, who was staying here, said he wanted to eat Dhokla and we prepared it using the instant mixes available these days. We got it from the nearest town in Talala."
But for Vivek Nair, a resident of Bangalore, it was a horrifying night on Monday. "Failing to get rooms either in the homestays or hotels, we decided to stay in the tents. As the night passed by we could hear the roars of the lions which were so scary that we were afraid to even get out of the tents." He said he had two sleepless nights in the tents as he feared attack.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Gir attracts 33K visitors, earns 42L during Diwali
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
Call it the Bachchan effect or the Diwali rush, the Lion Conservation Society of the state government has managed to secure more funds for lion conservation this year. The Gir sanctuary and the Devaliya Interpretation Centre have recorded an income of around Rs 42 lakh in the last ten days alone.
This, an official said, is nearly 20 per cent of the total collection in the tourist season last year when the income from October 10, 2009, to May 15, 2010 was Rs 2.10 crore. Last year, a total of 2,05,592 tourists visited the Gir sanctuary during the season. But this year, between November 4 and November 13 alone, there were 33,222 visitors, said the official.
Deputy conservator of forest Sandeep Kumar said that all records were broken during this festive season. Till date, the highest income of Devaliya recorded in a single day was Rs 4,68,000, in early 2000. But this year, the highest income in a single day was Rs 5,39,250.
In Gir, Kumar said, the highest income was on November 9. This was Rs 1,75,200 from 1,752 tourists. The income of Gir National Park has never crossed the Rs 80,000 mark in the past. The average income per day in the past was around Rs 60,000-Rs 70,000.
In fact, senior officials in Gandhinagar said that the number of visitors, too, has gone up this year. In Gir sanctuary, at the national park, the number of foreign tourists has gone up by 25-30 per cent while in Devaliya it has gone up by nearly 30 per cent.
This year, after the Khushboo Gujarat Ki advertisement campaign featuring superstar Amitabh Bachchan, there was a demand to increase the number of permits, said Kumar. "The forest department identified two routes on which 30 vehicles could move at the same time and therefore the number of permits was increased from 90 to 150."
The income generated from the tourist was deposited with the Lion Conservation Society formed by the state government after the poaching incident in 2007. Government officials said the society takes up development work in the Gir region. This includes covering the wells, and ensuring that the officials and staff are well equipped, said the officer.
The officer also said that despite increasing the number of permits, there was a huge queue of visitors from 7 in the morning and many even had to return home without the permit.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Leopard Rescued from Open Well in Gir
Briefly translated from Gujarati
Open Wells are death traps for wild animals, domestic animals and sometimes also for poor labours. There is an Open Well (Unprotected Well) In farm of Ramesh Bhura Baldaniya. A six year old leopard fell in to this well accidentally. RFO Visavadar said that leopard may have been running behind its prey and may have tallen into the Well. After six hours of hard efforts, it was rescued by the forest staff and primary treatments, it was freed in the forest. Visavadara area in western part of Gir forest.
SRK hunting for plot in lion's den?
Times of India By Himansh Kaushik
Bollywood Star May Buy Land For Farmhouse Near Gir
After Sachin Tendulkar inked a property deal in a 700-acre golf course in Ahmedabad, it is now the turn of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who is said to be looking for land in the home of Asiatic lion in Gir.
Sources said Shah Rukh Khan and television producer Ekta Kapoor have already made inquiries for land on the outskirts of the protected Gir sanctuary, which is the only home for Asiatic lion in the world. Khan, say local sources, has shown interest in a plot located between Haripur and Jalandhar villages on the outskirts of the Gir forest in Junagadh district.
Earlier this month, Tendulkar had invested in a property in the Kensville Golf and Country Club near Ahmedabad.
GD Gajera, talati-cum-mantri of Jalandhar village, which is near the Devaliya Interpretation Zone for Asiatic lions, told TOI, "We too have learnt that there are some negotiations going on between locals and estate brokers. But the deal is yet to be clinched".
Sources said a farmer in Haripur had decided to sell off his land to the star. According to sources, Khan's office in Mumbai was still to clarify for what purpose he wanted the land. It is believed to be for a farmhouse. The film star's office was in contact with local estate brokers, who are expected to be in Junagadh on Saturday to get land records.
Officials said the only condition the buyer party has put forth is that the farmhouse has to be in the vicinity of the national park. When contacted, Haripur sarpanch Ramnikbhai Naranyanbhai said, "We have heard that Khan and Kapoor are looking for land near Sasan". He said Khan's office had probably zeroed in on a plot near Hiran river which passes through Gir forest. The owner of the land is a Gujarati based in Mumbai.
When contacted, Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (headquarters), said, "We don't have any knowledge about this".
Friday, November 12, 2010
Amitabh's endorsement lures tourists to Gujarat's Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan's endorsement of Gujarat as an ideal tourist destination is attracting thousands of tourists to the Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Junagadh District.
The forest department has doubled the daily permit quotas for entry to the sanctuary to meet the heavy tourist rush.
Officials said all hotels and resorts in the area are booked till mid-November and credited Bachchan's promotion of the State as the reason for the huge tourist inflow.
"A Bollywood superstar like Amitabh Bachchan was made the brand ambassador of Gujarat state. This created worldwide awareness, attracting tourists from all over the world to Gir forests," said Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Sasan Gir Forest.
"Every hotel and restaurant near the Gir Wildlife Reserve has been booked. This proves that good response we are getting due to the advertisement. The permit to enter the Gir jungle has also been booked to its maximum capacity," he added.
Tourists however, said the lack of accommodation is a problem.
"This place is heavily crowded. We are not getting a hotel to stay here because of the crowd," said Hasrat Khan, a tourist from Rajashthan.
Although the 'Khusboo Gujarat Ki' campaign, a series of tourism advertisements featuring Amitabh Bachchan, was a success, tourists complained of commercial exploitation by hotels and restaurants.
The Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the only place where the Asiatic Lions exist in their natural habitat. By Hanif Khokhar
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Beat guards double as guides to meet rush
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
"Since Diwali, I have not had the time to have two proper meals a day," says a beat guard who was posted at one of the check posts at the Gir sanctuary from where the tourist vehicles enter the forest area. During this Diwali vacation, the forest department issued as many as 150 permits a day, adding to the mad rush for safari ride in the Gir. This, coupled by a paucity of guides, has compelled many beat guards to double as guides, said the beat guard requesting anonymity.
"Earlier, during the peak season, it took me not more than two minutes to clear the rush. But these days it takes nearly four minutes to clear a single vehicle as most drivers of the lion safari want to complete the trip as soon as possible and come back for the second trip," he said.
When a vehicle reaches the check post, it takes some 20-25 minutes before it can actually enter the forest for safari, the beat guard said. Once his duty as beat guard gets over by 2 pm, he hops on to a safari vehicle as a tour guide to earn extra bucks and make up for the shortage of guides. This gets him an additional income of nearly Rs 150 per day.
"The rules do not allow us to double as guides, but since there was a shortage of guides during the festive season, several beat guards took it as an opportunity to earn more," he explained. A guide's duty is to ensure that no one gets down from the vehicles and also ensure that the vehicle is on the right route. The guard also complained that if the authorities were increasing the number of permits, they should have also ensured that there are at least four person deployed at the gates to check the entry and exit of vehicles.
There are about 50 odd guides in the sanctuary. Of these, 20 are new recruits. Another beat guard said he too earned an addition of over Rs 600 in these five days by serving as guide. He said the nearby small-time restaurant owners had a great time as they too had a large number of visitors. Besides, the beat guard would tie up with these hotels and get hired as a guide.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Shaying – The Gir song (Invader ZIM)
The Gir Song from Invader ZIM (Original Track) by Shayning Gir has a lot of funny songs! the Gir tacos song, the gir waffles song the doom doomy song and many more! he's kinda stupid but funny robot, an Invader ZIM track is something I always wanted to do and recently I got a chance to do, a DIB and GAZ track is surely something I plan to do in the future or maybe even an Invader ZIM theme remix but meanwhile enjoy the cupcake and tacos by GIR and ZIM :) Shayning is a GOA & Fullon Trance Project by Shay Hugi from Israel, Original track 145BPM. Released on 10-12-2009. Main Influences: Astral Projection, Sesto Sento, Gataka, Invader ZIM, Jhonen Vasquez, Ferbi Boys, Electro Sun, Pixel and many more..
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Steering clear: No shortcuts through lion country, please
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
The last place one would expect to be used as a shortcut is the Gir sanctuary, the only home in the world of the Asiatic lion. It would make more sense to burn a little fuel and skirt a protected forest than cut across it.
But the Gujarat government, which refuses to share a single lion with any other state, does not mind a busy highway running through Gir. The distance between Visavadar to Talala towns in Junagadh is 130 km if you take the highway outside Gir. But why take this stretch when you can drive through Gir and save 52 km?
Let alone villagers, even heavy vehicles traverse on some of these stretches, making large, rattling noises and leaving behind clouds of exhaust.
In fact, there has been an increase in the inflow of uncontrolled visitors in the protected habitat in the last couple of years. The sanctuary is spread over nearly 1,500 sq km and houses 298 lions according to the last census. In all, there are 411 lions in Gir and surrounding areas.
The sanctuary has turned into a virtual thoroughfare connecting Junagadh and Amreli. Not just the Visavadar-Dhari stretch, there are some ten roads passing through different parts of the sanctuary. At least 600 vehicles pass through the Una-Talala and Dhari-Una stretches in Gir everyday. The traffic is nonstop even at night.
The shrines and temples located in the sanctuary add to the lions' troubles. The Kankai Mata temple, Banej, Pataleshwar Mahadev and Tulsishyam are some of the religious spots in the sanctuary which are thronged by pilgrims daily. People even spend their nights in the sanctuary on select religious festivals.
Forest officials say the ban on night stay within the sanctuary was lifted after pilgrims threw a major tantrum. People living in these shrines move about in the sanctuary unchecked.
Former principal conservator of forests and member of the National Wildlife Board GA Patel says, "Sariska has a busy highway passing through the sanctuary which may have played a major role in the poaching of tigers. We too have several roads passing through the Gir sanctuary. There is no political will to curb the traffic. We are fighting a losing battle. Something should be done to save the big cats. There is a need for some drastic measures."
The Dhari-Una stretch operates round the clock, while the rest are closed after sunset. Even luxury buses and trucks use it at night.
HIGHWAYS THAT PASS THROUGH GIR Visavadar-Sasan Jamwada-Kankai Jamwada-Banej Una-Talala Jamwada-Dhari Babariya-Banej-Patra Junagadh-Talala Haripur-Hirenwel Una-Talala Dhari-Una via Tulsishyam
Friday, November 05, 2010
Six poachers held with Gun at Karamdadi(GirE)
Briefly translated from Gujarati
It seems wild animals poaching activity is still ON in Gir forest area. Forest Dept. received information that few poachers are relinquishing delicious wild boar ment at Karamdadi in Dalkhania range near Dhari. A team of forest officials including DFO Manishwar Raja, ACF Raiyani, RFO D K Parmar and Task force rushed to the spot and grabbed the poachers red handed before they could run away.
When the officials reached poachers were cooking the wild boar meet and also had one country made gun. Poachers those who were caught are Bhola Karsan Sisanda, Jaysukh Vallabh Thalecha, Ranchhod Karsan Sisanda, Arjan Jivraj Sisanda, Ramesh Babu Sisanda. On further interrogation two more country made guns were also recovered.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
More permits, new routes inside forest
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
The forest department is busy chalking out plans to allow more tourists into the Gir sanctuary. This will increase the number of permits issued in a day by 30 from the existing 90.
It also plans to increase the number of routes inside Gir from four to five in anticipation of the huge flow of tourists in the sanctuary after the ad campaign of superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
The tourism department is now promoting the lions as its main USP and has incorporated the lion even in its logo. The forest has two entry and exit points - one each at Sasan and Bambafore. Officials said on these four routes, one vehicle can access a particular route from Sasan gate and simultaneously, another vehicle can enter the same route from Bambafore entrance.
So at a given time eight vehicles can enter the forest from these two gates. Once this fifth route is opened, 10 vehicles will be able to enter the forest.
According to officials, hoping a surge in tourism after the Amitabh Bachchan shoot, the tourism department had sent a proposal to the forest department in May to keep a part of Gir open throughout the year. With this, it also sought increase in the number of permits for visitors. The officials claimed that they had requested the department to increase the permit by 30 vehicles per day.
After a detailed study, the forest department found that the increase of 30 vehicles per day on the existing routes would put an additional burden and might disturb the animals, resulting in the sighting becoming rare.
"After the tourism department proposed, we have examined the proposal and the department is working to have an alternate route for the tourist so that the number of permits increases by 30 per day," said SK Nanda, principal secretary, forest and environment.
Officials in the tourism department said that the proposal was sent with the intension to ensure that visitors would not have to return empty handed.
Officials said that the forest department has in turn asked the tourism department to create awareness through advertisement campaign about Devaliya being opened for tourists round the year.
It's roaring biz for Gir courtesy Big B
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
In A Record In The Last 15 years, Sanctuary Booked For Fortnight Till November 15
The roar of lions showcased by superstar Amitabh Bachchan in the Gujarat Tourism campaign seems to be yielding fruitful results for the Gir Sanctuary.
The sanctuary has witnessed such a good response from the tourists that it is completely booked for the fortnight till November 15 — a record in the last 15 years for this only abode of the Asiatic lion.
Ever since the sanctuary re-opened on October 15, on an average, 70 to 80 permits were issued daily. The upper limit for issuing permits was 90 permits per day.
However till November 11, there is no room in Sinh Sadan and even the advance permits issued to casual visitors are over booked.
Officials said that of the 90 permits issued daily, about 50 per cent were issued in advance. And now the first available advance permit is of November 15. According to officials, not just the Sinh Sadan, which is the official guest house of the forest department, but even hotel owners were having a great time. Of these 45 advance permits, over 25 were pocketed by the hotel owners.
In Sinh Sadan, majority of rooms barring the VIP room have been booked in advance. "The permits are issued for those who pre-plan their trips, but we don't have any advance permits. On an average, roughly 70 permits have been issued ever since the sanctuary reopened," Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest, headquarter, told TOI.
Kumar said that even Devaliya, the interpretation zone, has also seen a rise in the number of tourists. "It has been noticed that the number of schools coming here for picnics has seen a sharp rise. After visiting Devaliya, schools head for Somnath," he said. Kumar said the figures of the first 15 days of last year cannot be compared to this year, for Diwali festival last year was soon after the sanctuary opened, and hence number of tourists was bigger.
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- It’s roaring biz for Gir courtesy Big B
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