Monday, April 30, 2012

Gunshots silence lion’s roar in Mityala

Gunshots silence lion's roar in Mityala
Times of India By Vijaysinh Parmar

Cops Hold Arms Training A Stone's Throw From Sanctuary

Tigers in the Jim Corbett National Park can finally rest in peace with Uttarakhand recently banning high decibel noise within 500m around the sanctuary after complaints that noisy parties and marriages were disturbing the animals.

The handful of Asiatic lions in Mityala Wildlife Sanctuary in Amreli, however, are not that lucky. Forget loud parties, they have to live with the sound of sporadic gunshots a stone's throw from their abode.

The Amreli district police has a firing range less than half a km from the sanctuary. An application filed under Right to Information Act (RTI) by Vimalsinh Rathod, a wildlife enthusiast from Khambha, revealed the police regularly holds arms training at this hilly spot.

While Mityala was declared a wildlife sanctuary only in 2004, the firing range has been there for the past 11 years. Rathod says the range should have been shifted as soon as the sanctuary was notified.

"Lions regularly come close to the firing range," Rathod said. "My RTI query revealed the forest department did not find it necessary to give permission for the range as it was a matter between two government departments."

"Besides the sound of gunfire, police officials ensure lions don't enter the range when training is in progress. This restricts their natural movement," a senior forest department official told TOI.

Vipul Laheri, honorary wildlife warden of Amreli, said, "Ideally, the area should be declared a silence zone. In the past too, this issue was debated when wildlife activists objected to the range." Laheri is also a member of Lion Conservation Society, Gujarat. R L Meena, chief conservator of forests (wildlife division), Junagadh circle, said that earlier there was no lion movement in the area. "We will observe the situation now and if we find the firing range is disturbing the lions, we will propose to the government to take an appropriate decision.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: The firing range in Amreli

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