Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Lion pride spotted near Ashoka rock edict in Junagadh
The Times of India City
Ahmedabad, July 18 (IANS) A week after a pride of eight lions were seen loitering in a residential area of Junagadh town, a group of four lions were on the road near the rock edict of Emperor Ashoka close to the residential area of the town, officials said on Monday.
Though the cats, seen Sunday night, did not harm anybody, an incident of killing of a buffalo by lions in nearby Lakhakhotha village in Bhavnath area has created panic and fear among the residents of the town.
A forest official department said on Monday that it was not yet clear if it were the same lions, seen loitering last night in the town, who had killed the buffalo, but did not rule out this possibility.
On June 25 last year, a straying lion from Girnar, the part of larger Gir forests, the only abode of Asiatic lions, was seen sitting on the protection wall of the Ashoka rock edict.
An uneven rock, with a circumference of seven metres and a height of ten metres, bearing inscriptions in Brahmi script, stands there.
On the night of July 11, a pride of 8 lions, including some cubs, was seen strolling along the road side close to Mota Girnar Darwaza, which is again a residential area. They stayed in the area for quite some time but did not harm anyone as there was nobody on the road at that time.
The incidents of lions frequenting in residential area have also raised concern among the city dwellers in the wake of four incidents of human deaths and injuries in lion attacks reported from neighbouring Amreli and Gir Somnath districts in last few months.
450 Maldhari families living inside Gujarat's Gir sanctuary
The Times of India City
Junagadh: At a time when population of Asiatic lions is spreading outside of the Gir wildlife sanctuary into fringe areas leading to rise in man-animal conflict, hundreds of Maldharis (traditional inhabitants of Gir forest), who had moved out of the protected forest after taking benefit of government's resettlement scheme in 1980s have returned to the forest over the past two decades.
The state forest department has ordered a survey to find out how many Maldharis have now returned. According to data presented before CM Anandiben Patel at a high-level meeting on July 5, the forest department disclosed that there are over 450 families now living inside the sanctuary .Most of these Maldhari families who were resettled under the government scheme have returned to the Gir sanctuary.
The meeting was called to resolve issues concerning to people living and outside the Gir sanctuary. Patel has called the meeting after she visited Talala during by-polls campaigning. Local residents had complained about the difficulties they faced and also submitted a 16-point charter of demands to the CM. In a reply to demand of giving permission to Maldhari's to construct pucca houses inside Gir sanctuary, senior forest department officials revealed that about 450 Maldhari families, who had shifted out of Gir sanctuary after government provided them agricultural lands, pucca houses, loans and other facilities, were back inside the sanctuary.
According to an estimate, over 2,000 Maldharis have returned into Gir sanctuary over the last two decades. Many of them have sold their agriculture land and plots given by government, said forest department sources. "We have ordered a survey about the Maldharis who have returned to the sanctuary. Once the survey is carried out, we will come to know the exact number of Maldharis inside the sanctuary area," Dr J A Khan, principal chief conservator of forests, (wildlife), told TOI.
"The authorities have been asked to carry out survey about where Maldharis have settled after returning to sanctuary. Officers have also been asked to produce evidences with photographs," a forest official.
Senior forest officials said that the very purpose of relocation of Maldharis from Gir wildlife sanctuary becomes redundant with them coming back inside the sanctuary .
"The idea of relocations of Maldharis was conceived after the years of deliberations over conservation of lions in Gir sanctuary . The Maldharis and livestock had a negative impact on lion habitat due to consumptive use of both forest product and fodder," said the forest officer.
There are about 534 lions in Saurashtra of which 280 are found in Gir National Park and Sanctuary area and surrounding villages, while rest are found outside the Gir forests.
"The Maldharis who have returned back have settled either in existing ness or set up new settlements which are illegal. According an estimate, there over 4,100 Maldharis living in 46 ness (Maldhari settlements) in Gir Sanctuary .
Interestingly , forest department that had started issuing identity cards to Maldharis living inside Gir Sanctuary have issued over 5,500 cards," according to official documents of the forest department.
Pride of Lions Roaming Inside Junagadh City
The Indian Express
A pride of eight Asiatic lions-three lionesses and five cubs strayed into populated area of Junagadh city in the wee hours of Tuesday. Junagadh is located on the border of Gurnar Wildlife Sanctuary which is home to more than 40 Asiatic lions. The video was shot by one Mrunal Joshi from his third-storey apartment near Girnar Darwaja in Junagadh.
Gir lions for MP: PMO denies information on their reintroduction
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has refused to disclose information exchanged with the the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister in this regard, citing that it is still consulting a "third party", according to an RTI reply.
Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are locked in a legal battle over the issue for the past few years, with Gandhinagar loath to part with its lions. Officials believe that the lions are "not reaching their new home any sooner in the near future".
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 1989 pushed for a second natural habitat for the Asiatic Lions for their long-term conservation and to save them from epidemics.
The Supreme Court in April 2013 ordered "immediate" re-introduction of lions to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh from Gir in Gujarat -- the only surviving habitat of 523 Asiatic Lions in the world.
The court also fixed a six-month deadline for a committee responsible to accomplish the mission under the government's Additional Director General of Forest Wildlife (ADG-WL).
While no lions have been moved, the PMO, recently replying to an RTI query of wildlife activist Ajay Dube, said that it has initiated discussions with a "third party" to decide if it should disclose any information regarding the matter.
The RTI sought information on letters exchanged between the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and the Prime Minister on shifting the lions from Gir to Kuno.
"The PMO also did not elaborate what this third party is. They also didn't say if such letters were even exchanged or not," Dube said.
This signals further delay in re-introduction of the lions.
"I don't see lions being re-introduced in the near future, there has been no such proposal with the Gujarat wildlife department either. When there is a legal battle between states, what can the Centre do," a senior official from Madhya Pradesh Wildlife department asked while speaking to IANS.
Recently, Ravi Srivastava, then Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh in a letter to Roy P. Thomas, Joint Director (Wildlife), Union Environment Ministry, urged that execution of the apex court's order be kick-started.
"..the flash-floods in Mareli Bhavnagar of Gujarat in July 2015 resulted in washing out of 10 Asiatic lions. This is what all the time scientists were referring to about occurrence of natural calamity," the letter procured by Dube pointed out.
A second home for Asiatic Lions follows the concern to save this rare species from an epidemic leading to its complete wipeout. Lions at Gir are already considered by experts to be vulnerable to diseases.
In 1994, over 1,000 lions in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park were killed within a few days due to an epidemic.
WII in 1993 found Darrah-Jawaharsagar and Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuaries of Rajasthan suitable and Kuno as the "best suitable" for the Asiatic Lions.
While officials don't see re-introduction happening any sooner, if the legal deadlock is resolved at least one pride -- which includes two lions and four lionesses -- would be moved under "soft release".
"Well, 15 years back Gujarat was concerned about the lion population, but now they have grown beyond capacity. I think they should not have any problem in giving us some lions now," a Madhya Pradesh official told IANS.
As per the apex court, crores of rupees have been spent by the Union and State Governments for re-introducing Asiatic lions in Kuno.
The then ADG (WL) S.S Garbayal, assigned to conduct the re-introduction, was first promoted to Director General (Forests) in July, 2014 and post retirement appointed an expert member of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), posted in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.(Kushagra Dixit can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thursday, July 07, 2016
Leopard rescued from Diu, sent back to Gujarat
The Indian Express
The big cat took the bait and fell into the trap on Saturday morning, forest officials said.
After trailing it for around two months, forest officers of union territory Diu finally managed to rescue a leopard from Malala village on the island on Saturday and sent it back to mainland Gujarat.
The rescue teams of Diu forest department and Sasan wildlife division in Gir forest of mainland Gujarat caught the leopard by placing a trap cage in a coconut orchard in Malala village near the Diu city. The big cat took the bait and fell into the trap on Saturday morning, forest officials said.
"Indirect evidence like pug-marks suggested that the leopard used to come to Diu city at night and go back to villages during the day. Based on this, we identified its corridor and a rescue team from Sasan placed a cage in the coconut orchard in Malala. The previous night, its pugmarks were observed near the cage but it didn't take the bait. However, the rescuers became successful on Saturday," range forest officer (RFO) of Diu, Kailash Gakewad said on Sunday.
Gujarat's pride safe in Siddi woman's hands!
The Times of India City
Talala (Gir-Somnath): It was 10pm and pitch dark all around. Twenty-seven-year old Rozina Chotiyara was alone in the midst of forest near Talala. Suddenly, she sensed some people moving around illegally in the area. After confirming the direction, Rozina followed them. However, one of them saw her and started running away. But they had failed to gauge her stamina. In no time, she chased and overpowered all four of them by midnight.
Don't mistake this to be some women's bravery story from a children's book. For, protecting Asiatic lions in their last abode is the daily job of Rozina, the first woman of the primitive Siddi tribe to join the forest department.
"I lost my chappals while chasing the offenders as the terrain is rough and uneven. But I caught two of them from their necks. They were fined Rs 30,000 for animal teasing," said Rozina, a native of Javantri village near Talala.
A farmer's daughter, Rozina could have opted for a more comfortable job of a school teacher after completing her BA and B.Ed in 2010. But having being born and brought up in the Gir forest, lion protection was a natural career choice. "It is my passion and duty to serve Gir and its pride - the Asiatic lion," said Rozina, who is posted at Jepur beat of Ghansh round.
Rozina has also set an example for her community where most people work as farm labourers or do odd jobs. There are around 55,000 Siddis living in Junagadh district.
Gir: 3 of 17 lions captured in May found to be 'man-eaters'
The Indian Express
After analysing their pug marks and faeces during a 25-day captivity, one adult male and two sub-adult female lions were found to have turned man-eaters, Chief Conservator of Forest for Junagadh division said.
After analysing their pug marks and faeces during a 25-day captivity, one adult male and two sub-adult female lions were found to have turned man-eaters and 'guilty' of killing locals, as human remains were found from the excreta of these three lions, Chief Conservator of Forest for Junagadh division, AP Singh, said.
"Out of the 17 lions captured by us last month, one was a male adult, and it turned out to be the main culprit. We found considerable amount of human remains in that lion's faeces, while very small amount was found from the faeces of two sub-adult females," he said.
India: 2 Gir lion cubs put on probation over killings after 'main culprit' given zoo life sentence
International Business Times
Two lion cubs at Gir National Forest, Gujarat, India, will be kept under observation following the killing of three villagers in the area. A male lion found to be the main culprit has been caged in a zoo for life
After three lions were given strict punishments over the killings of three villagers near the Gir National Forest in the western Indian state of Gujarat, two lion cubs in the sanctuary will be put under observation. The cubs, considered "juveniles", got the benefit of doubt in the case that saw the "arrest" of about 17 lions.
Gujarat swallows its pride, may agree to translocate Gir lions to Kuno Sanctuary
The Economic Times Plitics and Nation
Gujarat has indicated that it may be willing to relocate some of the iconic Gir lions out of the state, signalling a shift in stance after it continued to resist the move during Narendra Modi's more than 12 years at the helm as chief minister.
At a meeting of the central expert committee on translocation of Asiatic Lions from Gir National Park in Gujarat to Kuno Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh held last month, the Gujarat government said it may be willing to accept the committee's decision of the committee".
Queries emailed to the Gujarat forest department and the chief wild life warden on the subject did not elicit any response by Friday evening. The environment ministry did not respond to ET's queries either.
The development comes amid reports of lions from Gir stepping into human habitations, turning man-eaters and being moved to captivity.
Experts have for long been saying that Gir has become overcrowded with lions and there is need to spread them out to other locations to ensure their genetic stability and health. During Modi's four successive terms as chief minister, though, Gujarat refused to relocate the lions. The Gir lion is projected as a symbol of Gujarati pride and helps draw tourists in large numbers to the state since the species is not present in wild anywhere else in India.
The Supreme Court in 2013 ruled in favour of translocation of the Asiatic lion to Kuno in the interest of the genetic stability of the species. In a report submitted in 2014, the expert committee largely found Kuno ready to receive the lions and had suggested that a single pride of five to 10 Asiatic lions with 60%-70% female population be moved to start with. Gujarat, however, steadfastly opposed translocation in subsequent meetings of the expert committee.
At the meeting it was agreed that "airlifting of lions would be the feasible option" and Madhya Pradesh would take all necessary scientific measures thereafter for maintaining the genetic stability of the lion population as per International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines on translocation. It was also decided that before the action plan is implemented, the Kuno sanctuary should be declared as a national park for effective implementation of relevant activities.
The minutes of the meeting record that an action plan "to give effect to this translocation" will be submitted shortly and a draft tripartite memorandum of understanding clearly indicating roles, rights, risks and privileges of the three parties - Gujarat government, Madhya Pradesh government and ministry of environment and forests - will be drafted and finalised by the next meeting.
It was also agreed that separate state specific empowered or coordination committees for Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh will be formed to coordinate all translocation related issues. Besides, there will be a steering committee to oversee the coordination committee which will be chaired by a senior official from the wildlife department of the environment ministry.
It was agreed that while some other studies could be initiated before translocation is undertaken, others can be carried out alongside. Some of the studies agreed to be undertaken are on assessment of status and distribution of prey and predator base in Kuno; understanding space use; resource selection and niche separation by sympatric carnivores such as tigers, leopards, hyenas, jackals and wolves; assess prevalence and virulence of major pathogens among wild carnivores around the sanctuary and understanding livelihood issues and social carrying capacity for reintroducing lions in the Kuno landscape.
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- Pride of Lions Roaming Inside Junagadh City
- Gir lions for MP: PMO denies information on their ...
- Leopard rescued from Diu, sent back to Gujarat
- Gujarat's pride safe in Siddi woman's hands!
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