Friday, September 08, 2017

Gujarat government allows 50 devotees to stay overnight at Gir temple

07/09/2017

Gujarat government allows 50 devotees to stay overnight at Gir temple

THE TIMES OF INDIA

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-government-allows-50-devotees-to-stay-overnight-at-gir-temple/articleshow/60401149.cms

 

AHMEDABAD: Through a notification, the state government has allowed 50 devotees to stay overnight at the Kankai Mataji templewithin the Gir sanctuary , the only abode in the world of the Asiatic Lion. The decision has raised the hackles of wildlife activists and even the members of the State Board for Wildlife, who say that the move will be detrimental to conservation of lions.

 

In 1998-99, a similar attempt was made to permit tourists to stay overnight at the temple. However, the permission was cancelled following the intervention of the standing committee on science and technology , environment and forests of the Rajya Sabha. Principal chief conservator of forests G K Sinha said: "The government had on Tuesday issued a notification making corrections in the earlier government resolution. The earlier GR had stated that the trustees of the temple and devotees should be permitted to stay within the sanctuary." Sinha said that the government on Tuesday defined `devotees'. "Accor ding to Tuesday's GR, devotees would be those whose family deity is Kankai Mata or those who want to perform a pooja -they can stay over," Sinha said. "Ho wever, the number of such devotees should not exceed 50."

 


A senior officer of the forest department said that till now, apart from the trustees, no one -not even their family members -had been allowed to stay . In the absence of clarity about who constitutes `devotees', the deputy conservator of forests denied permissions. The officer said now that the government has allowed 50 devotees to stay , officials would be forced to issue permissions. He said that in the new circumstances, anyone can get a letter from trustees under the pretext of performing a pooja and stay overnight at the temple. He said that poachers or unwanted elements could also possibly infiltrate into the sanctuary . He sa id that since there was no regular pooja in the night, there was no need for people to stay over.

 

Contradicting forest officials, fo rest minister Gan pat Vasava said: "Over 300 devote es used to stay overnight. The government, in order to conserve the lions, has reduced the number." Bhushan Pandya, a member of the State Board for Wildlife, said: "The real pilgrim is ignored and tourism takes the front seat. In 1998, in similar circumstances, the government had to withdraw." The decision of the government to allow the night stay will be bad for conservation as any person can stay as a tourist in the forest area, Pandya said.

 

Priyvrat Gadhvi, another member of the board, said: "This will have a directly detrimental effect on the surrounding forest and will set a bad precedent."

 


Gadhvi said limiting people to a particular number would be practically impossible. "The overall cascading impact on conservation of lions would be adverse," he said. "I will definitely raise the issue in the next board meeting." Wildlife activists have begun an online campaign to force the government to reverse its decision.

 


Devotees can use either gate now

 

The forest department, which had so far made it mandatory for devotees visiting the Kankai temple to exit from the same gate, has relaxed this norm and they can now leave from either gate. Ganpat Vasava, the forest minister, said the department has stated that there are two gates in use, one is 17km from the temple and the other is 13km away. The department clarified that devotees will have to leave from either gate. Experts feel that with the option to use either gate, devotees will in effect travel through the entire sanctuary area.


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

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Monday, September 04, 2017

Attend a lecture on the crisis of Asiatic lion at NCPA this evening

30/08/2017

Attend a lecture on the crisis of Asiatic lion at NCPA this evening

Mid-day

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/lifestyle-mumbai-events-lecture-documentary-screening-asiatic-lion-ncpa-culture/18541196

 

When it comes to the narrative of saving the big cats, the focus has remained largely on tigers, and justifiably so, given their dwindling numbers. But on the IUCN Red List, both, the Royal Bengal tiger and Asiatic lion feature in the endangered category. While there are 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the world, the number for the latter, according to a latest report, is about 650.

 

The animal, which has been a symbol of strength since the time Emperor Ashoka built his Lion Capital in Sarnath, now stands on the verge of extinction. What brought this subspecies to this stage? The fourth Vimal Shah Memorial Lecture, organised by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in collaboration with The Museum Society of Mumbai, explores such critical questions. Titled Asia's Lions in the Past and the Present, the talk by Dr Divyabhanusinh Chavda will highlight the reasons for their dwindling numbers, the current status and future.


 

Author of the book, The Story of Asia's Lions, Dr Chavda, apart from holding other distinctions, is former president of World Wide Fund for Nature India and member of the National Board for Wildlife.

Read on for a few interesting facts:

> Asiatic lions roamed from Palestine in the West to Palamau in India in the East. Today, they have been exterminated from almost the entire continent, and can be found only in the Saurashtra peninsula.


 

> According to estimates, at the beginning of the 20th century, the lion population had come down to about 100, due to royal hunting expeditions common in those days.

 

> Conservation efforts began during the time of the British (but it depended on the predisposition of the official in charge), and strengthened after India achieved freedom.

 

> In 1963, five commemorative stamps featuring the Asiatic lion, gaur (Indian bison), Himalayan panda, Bengal tiger and Indian elephant were released under the Wildlife Preservation series.

 

> The population has increased — it was 523 in 2015 and is over 650 today. This increase in number — with no corresponding increase in the size of the habitat — means that more than half the lions are roaming in spaces that are far away from the Gir forest.

 

> This increases the possibility of lion-human encounters, which puts the animal at further risk.

 

> Scope needs to be expanded to protecting the corridors. Simultaneously, areas beyond Gir, where the lions have settled in significant numbers must be turned into safe havens.

On Today, 6 pm
At Auditorium, Visitors Centre, CSMVS, Fort.
Call 22844484


 

Watch Bastion of the Giants, a 2015 documentary by Sumesh Lekhi that takes you into the dense forests of West Bengal and tall grasses of Assam to discover the lives of the Asian elephant. The film also highlights the need to conserve the pachyderm in the time of increasing man-animal conflict and climate change. The screening is in collaboration with Indian Documentary Producers' Association.
On Today, 6.30 pm
At Little Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call 66223737

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Cat fights

01/09/2017

Cat fights

The Indian EXPRESS

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/cat-fights-madhya-pradesh-lions-kuno-palpur-national-park-4823018/

 

Madhya Pradesh has waited for nearly two decades for lions to roar at the Kuno-Palpur National Park. In the 1990s, wildlife experts felt that confining the Asiatic Lion to the Gir National Park in Gujarat was not a good idea. The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, carried out surveys to find a second home for the beast and recommended shifting some of the felines to Kuno. But the Gujarat government has termed the big cat as the "pride" of the state, and refused to share them with MP. An exasperated MP government has now decided to breed lion cubs in zoos and shift them to Kuno.

 

Till the late 19th century, the Asiatic lion roamed large parts of North India, as far east as what is today Bihar, with the Narmada river marking the southern limit of its range. But indiscriminate hunting and large-scale conversion of forests into farms and human-settlements proved to be the animal's doom. By the early 20th century, the deciduous forests of Gir were the Asiatic lion's only home. In 1913, the chief forest officer of Junagadh reported that there were only 20 of the majestic animals left in Gir. Since then, conservation efforts have not only saved the animal from extinction but resulted in a significant increase in their population. At the last census in 2015, the lions in Gir numbered 523.

 

Wildlife experts, however, believe that a disease outbreak or a natural disaster like a forest fire in the animal's only home could undo the conservation achievements of the past 100 years. However, Gujarat does not want to part with its lions. Conservation has taken a further backseat with the MP government's proposal to the Centre to allow Kuno to source cubs from zoos. The lion cubs will have to compete with other predators hardened with the ways of the forest. It is anybody's guess how they will fare.

 

As Gujarat herds its big cats, MP looks for zoo lions The Indian EXPRESS

30/08/2017

As Gujarat herds its big cats, MP looks for zoo lions

The Indian EXPRESS

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/as-gujarat-herds-its-big-cats-mp-looks-for-zoo-lions-4820023/

Gujarat's refusal to part with its Gir lions despite court orders has forced Madhya Pradesh to propose an alternative: source cubs and lions from zoos across the country for translocation to Kuno Palpur in Sheopur district. For more than two decades, the Gujarat government has scuttled the translocation conceived in the 1990s by the Central government, at the instance of the Wildlife Institute of India, to create a second home for Asiatic lions outside Gir.

 

In 2014, the Supreme Court threw out a curative petition by the Gujarat government, the last legal recourse available before it to stall the translocation, but the state has managed to avoid shifting, citing absence of one study or the other. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh too hasn't shown much keenness in pushing for execution of the project.

 

Calling the new idea 'Plan B', Madhya Pradesh Chief Wildlife Warden Jitendra Agrawal told The Indian Express that a proposal has been sent to the Centre to allow the state to source cubs and lions from zoos. "It's a long-drawn process that will begin only after the Centre and experts give the go-ahead after recommending some studies," he said.

 

In May, Agrawal wrote to the state government, saying, "Despite an order from the Supreme Court and six meetings of the expert committee set up for the purpose, the chances of translocation of Asiatic lions are very dim in the near future."

 

He further wrote that cubs born in Indore zoo could be shifted to Kuno Palpur and kept in an enclosure with the permission of the Central Zoo Authority. This can be followed by sourcing cubs and lions from other zoos and a family could be established in Kuno Palpur, he added.


In the communication to the Centre, Madhya Pradesh cited its experience in releasing orphaned hand-reared tiger cubs in the wild, to bolster its case for shifting lions. In the past, Madhya Pradesh has shifted orphaned tiger cubs to other parks and trained them to hunt by developing their wild instincts gradually. "In the 1990s, we did not have such expertise, which we now have," Agrawal said.

 

But experts and activists are not sure of the Madhya Pradesh plan, and point out that it defeats the very purpose of the project, which was to ensure longevity of the Gir lions. "It's difficult to relocate zoo-bred lions in the wild. I don't think there is any precedent. It's in the best interest of Asiatic lions to have an alternative population outside Gir," noted wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright pointed out.

 

She also said that relocation of tiger cubs and zoo-bred lion cubs couldn't be compared. "They were born to mothers in the wild and reared in virtual isolation. Their genes were pure, unlike those of zoo-bred animals."

 

Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey slammed the MP government for "surrendering" before Gujarat and showing no political will to even get a judicial order executed. "Gujarat has no legal option left and yet it's delaying translocation. Even lions in Gir are vulnerable due to in-breeding. Getting zoo lions will defeat the very purpose of the project," he said. He also pointed out that hundreds of crores have been spent on creating infrastructure at Kuno Palpur, in relocating villagers outside the reserve, and in research and vaccination.


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