Madhya Pradesh at fault over delay in shifting of Gir lions
THE TIMES OF INDIA
Bikers Chasing Lion, Lioness In Gujarat's Gir On Video, Three Arrested
AHMEDABAD: A video that shows a group of bikers chasing lions in Gujarat's Gir sanctuary has gone viral. The four men, three of whom, the police say, have been arrested, are seen chasing lions, lionesses and cubs. The license plate for one of the bikes can be seen. The lions run frantically to escape the interlopers.
The video was posted on Facebook yesterday.
Wildlife officials are trying to track down the fourth man and the source of the video.
One biker, whose identity is yet to be disclosed, was arrested from near Rajkot earlier today. He was tracked down through the resgistration number of the bike and information from the local villagers. Later in the day, two others were arrested, one from Amreli and another from Rajkot.
The Gir sanctuary in western Gujarat is the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions. Asiatic lions -- different from African lions, with a characteristic fold of skin on their bellies and thinner manes on males -- once roamed most of Asia.
The 1,400 sq km sanctuary has around 400 lions. But relentless development - roads through the forest, expanding villages and illegal mining - is forcing animal-human proximity.
While the animals frequently wander into local villages, there have been reports of deliberate chase and cruelty. In June, a 50-second video had surfaced that showed a group of men in a car chasing a lion cub through the forest in Amreli district.
In May last year, a four-year-old lion had accidentally fallen into dry well in the same area. While chasing the village's grazing buffaloes, it was surprised by a group of women. As the panic stricken animal tried to flee, it fell into the dry well. It was later rescued and released in the forest.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani throws open Ambardi lion safari park
Five days after the Gujarat High Court cleared the decks for the lion safari park at Ambardi in Amreli district, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday formally threw open the park. Rupani released three zoo-bred Asiatic lions in the safari park, located in Gir (East) forest division near Dhari in Amreli district.
The park has been developed by carving out around 400 hectare or four square Km area out of Ambardi reserved forest. A wire fencing separates the park from the reserved forest located on the bank of river Shetrunji behind Khodiyar dam. Last week, the High Court dismissed a PIL filed by one Biren Pandya who claimed that Gujarat government did not have required permission from Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for opening the park. Pandya had claimed that the final clearance for the park was given by a technical committee of the CZA.
However, early in June this year, the CZA accorded final approval to the park. Disposing of the PIL, the High Court noted that the authorities had obtained relevant permission for the safari park. Rupani said that the opening of Ambardi safari park will decrease pressure on Gir National Park and Sanctuary at Sasan and Devaliya Safari park.
"The reduced tourist footfall at Sasan and Devaliya will augur well for their ecology without adversely impacting eco-tourism," said Anirudhha Pratap Singh, chief conservator of forests of Junagadh wildlife circle. Gir forest and other protected areas spread over Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts in the Saurashtra region are the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions in the world. A 2015 census had estimated the population of Asiatic lion to 523.
The inauguration comes around 17 years after the idea of safari park was first mooted in 2001. While the fencing work had begun in 2010, relevant facilities were developed by 2013. However, due to lack of clearance and litigations challenging the project, the park could not be inaugurated. The project cost now stands at Rs13 crore. "We have sought permission for increasing the number of lions inside the park to eight. The park has the capacity to accommodate 16 lions," Singh said.
Gir Sanctuary collects its highest ticket revenue ever
TIME OF INDIA
AHMEDABAD: From June 2016 to June 2017, the Gir forest clocked its highest ever revenue for a single year, collecting Rs 10.25 crore from 5.22 lakh tourists who visited the Gir sanctuary and the Devaliya interpretation zone.
The rush continued and is evident this Diwali as well, with no online permits available for the vacation period till October 30. There are no online permit available on the weekends till January 14. Officials said that the tourist rush was increasing with every passing day. Chief conservator of forests A P Singh said 5.22 lakh tourists visited Gir in the last year. This is the second highest number of tourists after 2015, when the number was 5.33 lakh. "We are also expecting a huge rush during Diwali, as the park has just reopened after four months and it is the festival season."
The Gir region in Saurashtra, which is the last habitat of the endangered Asiatic lion, has seen a rise in tourist numbers ever since the state tourism department launched a campaign featuring Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.
Sources in the department said that during the festive period, the number of permits has been increased from 90 to 150, but there is still a huge rush. The revenue thus collected is used for lion conservation. Officials expect the number of tourists to grow next year. The tourist season for Gir sanctuary is from October 15 to June 15. The park remains closed for the remainder of the year as the roads are not motorable.