Tuesday, March 20, 2018

State-level celebrations of World Wildlife Day to be held in Sasan Gir


State-level celebrations of World Wildlife Day to be held in Sasan Gir

The Times of India



The state-level celebrations of the World Wildlife Day will take place in Sasan Gir on March 3, 2018. The function will be inaugurated by Union Minister of Forest Dr Harsh Vardhan in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.


The World Wildlife Day is celebrated to protect and raise awareness on all the flora and fauna specially the ones on the verge of extinction. The theme for this year is 'Big Cats; Predators under Threat' in order to raise awareness about the various species of cats such as leopards, lions, cheetah among others which are facing the threat of extinction.


In comparison to the 4% area of the total geographical area declared as Wildlife Protected Area in the whole country, the state of Gujarat has almost the double i.e 8.8% of land reserved under the Wildlife Protected area. The state has 4 national parks, 23 wildlife sanctuaries and a conservation reserve which make a total of 17,330 sq. km of land under the Wildlife Protected Area.


The state has 513 species of birds, 114 species of reptiles and amphibians, 111 species of mammals and more than 7000 types of pests.

Minister of Forest Ganpatsinh Vasava, Minister of State for Forest Ramanbhai Patkar and various officials of the forest department, NGOs, wildlife enthusiasts will be present on the occasion.

Weeds threaten Gujarat’s pride & prey


Weeds threaten Gujarat's pride & prey



Gujarat's pride and its prey are both facing a fast invading foe. Two shrubs — lantana camara and cassia tora — spreading in the Gir forest are threatening to drive out not only the Asiatic lions but large number of herbivorous animals like deers too.

Experts and forest department officials said that the spread of lantana camara (locally known as indradhanu) is so rapid that removing them is proving to be a Herculean task. The problem of these 'obnoxious weeds' is not new and has been observed for nearly two decades now. But the failure to nip them in the bud is now threatening to hurt Gir ecosystem.

The thorny lantana and cassia tora (locally known as kaalmukho) stop the growing of grass and other shrubs that the herbivorous feed on. As a result, large swathes of land in the national park and sanctuary have very little grass. The deers, nil gai, black bucks and other herbivorous animals don't eat plants of either of these shrubs. The longterm impact is the potential danger of lions moving out in revenue areas in search of prey, thus increasing chances of human-animal conflict.

A forest official said that lions usually like open spaces but in several ranges these are also depleting due to thick vegetation of lantana. The uninhibited spread, much akin to gando baval (prosopis juliflora), could also threaten existence of trees like caria, oak and karanj, which are essential for wild animals. Lions often take shelter in the coppice of caria trees, especially in summer.

The spread of lantana camara is so rapid that removing them is difficult

'It's a challenge to remove these invasive shrubs'

When these herbivores animals won't get food, they won't survive and if they won't survive, it will be difficult for lions to get food. The entire ecosystem will be damaged," he said.

Cassia tora is another plant of the legume family that renders the land nonfertile by not allowing grass to grow.

Chief conservator of forests, wildlife circle, A P Singh, who has authored a book on alien species, said, "This is an invasive species that doesn't allow survival of indigenous grass and is hindrance to natural ecosystem.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

4 lionesses check into Junagadh GIDC

4 lionesses check into Junagadh GIDC

Junagadh residents are no strangers to seeing lions strolling on roads in the town, especially near the Bhavnath taleti (foothill).

However, for the first time, a group of four lionesses ventured into the industrial area of Junagadh Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) estate and camped there for nearly six hours after preying on a calf. They merrily feasted on the prey and left only after the forest department staff reached there and guided them into the sanctuary adjacent to GIDC.

Junagadh GIDC-2 is located on the bank of Sonrakh river while the Gir sanctuary is located on the other side of the river. At present, the river is dry and therefore lions have an open route to reach the GIDC area through the riverbed. There is a wall between the river and GIDC premise. The four lioness who were in search of prey entered in GIDC premise by jumping this wall.

The entire hunting was captured in GIDC's CCTV camera and some people too videographed the incident in their mobile phones while sitting in the cars.

GIDC president Lalji Mawani said, "We have often seen leopards in the GIDC area. But this was the first incident when lions entered our premises. It did create a scare among people working in the units which operate till late night."

There are nearly 6,400 people working in 385 units of GIDC-2 and most of them are engaged in plastic reprocessing and automobile accessories manufacturing.

Chief conservator of forest, wildlife circle A P Singh, said, "I will seek an inquiry report into this incident. Lion is a social animal and can adjust in human habitats. Only if they feel that there is a prey, they enter the areas of human population but they never harm anyone. There could be multiple reasons why the lionesses entered the GIDC area."

Lions are frequently seen loitering on the road to Bhavnath Taleti on the foothills of Girnar mountain and up to Sakkarbaug Zoo which is located in the Junagadh town. The wild cats entering villages are common in outer Gir areas like Amreli district, where t here have been several instances of lions camping right in the middle of the roads while feasting on their prey.

Former member of wildlife board and lion expert, Revtubha Raijada, said, "Considering frequent instances of lions venturing so close to human population, there is an urgent need to spread awareness about their behaviour and how people should react seeing them in their vicinity. Many times people gather in big numbers seeing the lion in their areas and preys on an animal. Looking at the crowd, the lions leave their prey and return. But this angers them and they could attack humans."

Monday, February 26, 2018

Forest department to start wildlife awareness drive

Forest department to start wildlife awareness drive

Forest department will be launching the biggest ever wildlife awareness campaign in Sasan on March 3 the World Wildlife Day. The theme for this year decided by United Nations is 'Big cats: Predators under threat.' As part of the awareness campaign, the forest department will organize essay and painting competitions for children on wildlife conservation subjects.

They are expecting participation of nearly 4 lakh students, which the department claims will be biggest ever.

Children of schools across five districts of Greater Gir landscape — Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Botad — will participate in the event.

Primary school children will take part in painting competition while higher secondary school kids will participate in essay competition. Ram Ratan Nala, superintendent of Sasan, said, "We want children to write and draw on the theme of wildlife conservation. We want them to express their imagination as the activity is more of an awareness programme then competition."

As Gir forest holds one of the highest densities of big cats — lions and leopards — in a single, compact patch of any landscape, it would be a meaningful to raise awareness about conservation of these animals as well as ecosystem, said the forest department in an official release.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

PIL filed against night stays at Kankai temple

PIL filed against night stays at Kankai temple
The Times of India

Gujarat high court on Wednesday issued notice to the state government and forest authorities in response to a PIL objecting to the state government's decision of allowing 50 pilgrims night halt at Kankai temple inside the Gir National Park and sanctuary, the last abode of the Asiatic lion.

Rajkot-based NGO, Wildlife Conservation Trust, has filed the PIL against the government's circular issued in September 2017, by which permission has been granted to the Kankeshvari Jeernodhar Samiti to let 50 devotees stay inside the sanctuary at night. The petitioner has claimed that this was nothing but a back-door entry for tourists and for those who indulge in hunting inside the protected area, which otherwise is strictly prohibited. The Kankai temple is situated in Ankolvadi range in the protected area. The trust governing the temple has put up illegal construction in the sanctuary, the petitioner alleged. Initially, very few devotees were visiting the temple, but the flow increased during 1990s and entry of vehicles in the sanctuary also increased due to this.

In August 1993, the state government banned night halts by pilgrims in Kankai and Banej temples. The pilgrims were required to obtain permit to enter the sanctuary during day and were allowed only when in state transport buses.

However, the decision taken by the state government to allow night halt for 50 pilgrims has created dangerous situation for the wildlife in Gir, which is home to the endangered species like lions, the petitioner has contended, and demanded immediate revocation of the permission granted to the temple authority.

A bench headed by Chief Justice RS Reddy has sought reply from the principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden as well as from the temple trust by March 28.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Video shows trucker chasing lions in Gujarat forest

Video shows trucker chasing lions in Gujarat forest
The Times of India

Depicting miserable conditions of Asiatic lions, a video is being widely circulated on social media platforms in which a trucker is seen chasing a lioness and its three cubs in Greater Gir forest area.

According to the local villagers, the video was shot near Pipavav Port state highway in Rajula taluka of Amreli district in Gujarat.

The truck driver is speaking in Hindi and is chasing lions while a person sitting next to him is capturing the video on his mobile phone. The truck might have come to Pipavav Port from outside the state.

The video shows a lioness and three cubs running in fear as the truck chases them.

Forest department has hired trackers and deputed foresters in all lion habitats but they are careless in protecting the endangered animal," wildlife activist Atabhai Wagh said,

The higher officials of the forest department are investigating the matter.

However, it's not a one-off incident. A video went viral in November last year showing a biker chasing a lion. The forest department had assured inquiry after an outrage, but till date nobody has been booked.

The apathy of forest department has created outrage among animal lovers and lion protection groups.

In Video: Video shows trucker chasing lions in Gujarat forest

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Forest dept's apathy towards injured lions irks Gujarat villagers

Forest dept's apathy towards injured lions irks Gujarat villagers
The Times of India

Villagers in Gujarat's Amreli district have expressed their dissent over apathy shown by the forest department towards an injured lion and a lioness.

The two injured creatures were spotted near Surajbadi dam of Savarkundala taluka. The villagers informed the forest department officials about their situation as the lioness was seen limping heavily while the lion had scratch marks on its foot. However, no action has been taken in this regard in the last 12 days.

Villagers fear that the lioness might succumb to its injuries if it doesn't get timely treatment.

The locals have captured the pictures and videos of the big predators.

Aatabhai Vagh of Nature Lion Foundation said "We spotted this lion couple in this situation 12-13 ago and informed the forest officers. But they did not provide them any treatment. This is the case of utter carelessness and it seems that lions are at the mercy of forest officials."

"I have no knowledge of this, I will inquire about it. The lion couple will be taken to hospital," deputy conservator of forest Gir (east) Dr T Karuppasamy said.

However, local policemen claimed that they too had informed the Karuppasamy and were told that the area does't fall under his jurisdiction.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Gujarat has made Gir lions a prestige issue: Madhya Pradesh

Gujarat has made Gir lions a prestige issue: Madhya Pradesh
The Times of India

For the first time in the 27-year tussle, Madhya Pradesh government has gone on record to allege that Gujarat government has made it a "prestige issue" not to shift Gir lions to Kuno despite a Supreme Court ruling.

Neither the chief minister nor senior forest officials have ever given any official statement on the stalemate in recent years. In fact, chief wildlife wardens of MP had stopped responding to media inquiries on the row between two BJP-ruled states.

At the 16th meeting of the MP state wildlife board, the stalemate was discussed at length and it was unanimously decided that tigers would be shifted to Kuno, given that Gujarat is not ready to share its lions. The bombshell is tucked away in order number 1 of the minutes of the meeting: "Considering the fact that despite rehabilitation of people in 24 villages from Kuno around 20 years ago and notwithstanding the Supreme Court order of 2013, Gujarat was not ready to shift Gir lions making it their 'prestige issue', it would be better to shift dispersing tigers to that place to avert man-animal conflicts in the state."

Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who has filed a contempt petition in Supreme Court, demanding action against the Centre and Gujarat government for not implementing the SC order of April 2013, has questioned the MP government's stand. He finds the order of the 16th meeting "highly objectionable", and says: "When they accept that Gujarat has made it a prestige issue, why don't they file a contempt petition in court? They could have, at least, supported my petition on the same cause in court. It's a dubious stand. If it's a prestige issue for Gujarat, why isn't it for MP as well when they have done everything that was required — including shifting hundreds of poor villagers and taking away their livelihood?"

When shortage of prey base was cited as one of the major objections, the MP government had gone to the extent of declaring 700 sq km as a protected area to resolve the issue. After MP won the eight-year-long legal battle in 2013, Gujarat has been dilly-dallying on compliance, say MP officials. Madhya Pradesh went to the extent of suggesting that they were not averse to retaining the tag of 'Gir' or 'Gujarat' to identify the relocated lions at their new home in Kuno-Palpur.

The move for relocation of big cats, first mooted in 1991, had been hanging fire because Gujarat had refused to part with the majestic lions since that state holds the unique distinction of having the natural habitat of the only surviving Asiatic lions. While conservationists insisted that diversifying the lions' habitat would ward off any natural, medical or man-made calamity that could wipe out the entire population, Gujarat treated the issue as a matter of pride and wanted to retain its unique status to continue to attract the substantial tourist inflow to Gir. After the Supreme Court finally resolved the issue in favour of relocation, Gujarat is left with little choice but to comply.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Online petition floated against tourists’ night stay

Online petition floated against tourists' night stay
The Times of India

Participating in a three-day nature camp in Gir changed the perception of Manish Trivedi, a businessman from the city, who started an online petition asking the government to revoke its policy of granting devotees overnight stay inside Gir Sanctuary.

"I went to Gir forest in the last week of December and found that the government was permitting overnight stay inside the forest. Hence I decided to begin the online petition," Trivedi said.

The online petition "Save Nature Wildlife Stop Night Stay at Kankai Temple in Gir Forest," was initiated by Trivedi. The petition reads, "Gir forest and its wildlife including lions are threatened by the government policy to allow tourists or so-called religious people stay overnight at Kankai Temple in Gir Forest."

Trivedi said overnight stay will lead to many issues including noise pollution and even disturbance to the lions in the area. Further he said that this will generate plastic and other waste including human food leftovers and it will create an imbalance in the environment.

Trivedi asks why someone needs to stay overnight inside the forest, when the department can allow stays throughout the day beginning from early morning. Currently, 50 people will stay overnight inside the forest, and then the devotees will invariably perform bhajans and then demand to use power generators, Trivedi said.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Kankai webpage revised, no word on private guides

Kankai webpage revised, no word on private guides
The Times of India

Gujarat tourism department has revised its advisory asking tourists to hire private guides and transporters for spending the night at Kankai Mataji temple deep within Gir forest. However, the department has now clarified that only 50 'devotees' (people whose 'kul devi' is Kankai Mataji) can stay overnight in the temple. Earlier, it had invited all tourists to have a night stay at Kankai.

On January 19, the Times of India had carried a report titled, "At Kankai, govt goes against own rule." The report had revealed how the state tourism department had been ignoring its own forest laws and allowing numerous tourists to halt at night in the Kankai temple located in the heart of Gir sanctuary. Under the rules, the forest department can allow night stay to not more than 50 devotees at a time.

In September 2017, the Gujarat government had issued a notification allowing 50 devotees (only for rituals) to stay overnight at Kankai Mataji temple in the Gir forests. However, the Gujarat tourism website continued to invite all tourists, 'advising' them to stay overnight and that too by hiring a private transporters. The Kankai temple page on the website said 50 km from Sasan Gir, there is a shrine to Kankai Mata, the protector of the shepherds of Gir forest.

However, the tourism department has now drastically changed all the information earlier available on its portal. Its website (which was corrected on Saturday) states: "In the heart of the jungle, 25 km from Sasan Gir, there is a shrine to Kankai Mata, the benefactor of the shepherds of Gir forest. A supremely wild place, here you can hear lions roar at night and animals gathering at the nearby lake. The Forest Department allows devotees; no more than 50 at a time, for night stay."

Friday, January 19, 2018

At Kankai, govt goes against own rule

At Kankai, govt goes against own rule
The Times of India

The state tourism department has been violating the state government's own forest laws and allowing numerous tourists to halt at night in the Kankai temple located in the heart of Gir Sanctuary. Under the rules, the forest department can allow night stay to not more than 50 devotees at a time.

In September 2017, the Gujarat government had issued a notification allowing 50 devotees to stay overnight at the Kankai Mataji temple within the Gir sanctuary. However, the Gujarat tourism website says tourists are 'advised' to stay overnight and that too by hiring a private transporter.

devotees to stay overnight at the Kankai Mataji temple within the Gir sanctuary. However, the Gujarat tourism website says tourists are 'advised' to stay overnight and that too by hiring a private transporter.

The Kankai temple page on the website says 50 km from Sasan Gir, there is a shrine to Kankai Mata, the protector of the shepherds of Gir forest.

"A supremely wild place, here you can hear lions roar at night and animals gathering at the nearby lake," the website says. "There is a bus from Junagadh every morning which leaves at 8am, stays one hour at the temple, and starts on the return journey at 9:45am. But to experience the place, go by private transport and stay the night."

The webpage further says: "The high temple walls ensure your safety, and once night falls, you can watch the stars through the jungle treetops, hear lions roaming outside and experience a night in the true wilderness."

A senior forest officer said on the condition of anonymity that this practice was not acceptable as the government notification only permitted devotees to stay at Kankai temple in the night. "But the Tourism department is violating the state government notification and was promoting night stay," the forest officer said.

Priyavrat Gadhvi, a member of the State Wildlife Board, said the tourism department has to be more sensitive in the message it conveys.

"This is the second time that the department has got it wrong," he said.

"Earlier it was an advertisement asking people to race with the wild ass. Now the website asks people to spend the night in the jungle. This is exactly what we had feared would happen," Gadhvi said.

Gujarat's principal chief conservator of forests GK Sinha said they had permitted only devotees to stay as they had to spend the night at the temple to perform Pooja . "No person other than a devotee can stay at the temple in the night. We will definitely take up the matter with the tourism department," Sinha said.

Ganpat Vasava, the state's minister of tourism; and of forest and environment department, said that they had not permitted private tourists to stay at Kankai.

"They may not be aware of the rules. We will look into the matter and immediately get the rules implemented," Vasava said.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Lioness discovered lifeless in nicely close to Veraval

Lioness discovered lifeless in nicely close to Veraval
Kaplan Herald - Financial & Breaking News

Carcass of a lioness was found in a open well in village near on Friday.

Villagers saw the lioness' body and informed the forest department. The carcass was sent for postmortem. It is suspected that the lioness may have few days ago. But villagers noticed it only on Friday

Chief conservator of forest, Junagadh circle, said, "The incident has happened in range. The lioness is one-year-old and we are waiting for the postmortem report to ascertain the exact cause of death."

There are many open wells located in the fields in this region and most of them are 10 to 20-ft-deep. Many a times lions fell into the well while chasing their prey.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Environment ministry seeks improved air connectivity for Gujarat's Gir National Park

Environment ministry seeks improved air connectivity for Gujarat's Gir National Park

The environment ministry stated this in its action taken report to a parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment and forest.

The issue of poor air connectivity with Gir National Park in Gujarat has been taken up with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the environment ministry has told a parliamentary panel.

The environment ministry stated this in its action taken report to a parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment and forest.

The ministry has also said that the Gujarat government has also been asked to take action regarding the recommendation of the committee to remove encroachments from around the Park.

"Encroachments and construction around the national parks and sanctuaries are in purview of the states. In so far as Gir National Park is concerned, state government of Gujarat has been communicated to take action according the recommendation of the committee.

"The ministry has also taken up the matter with Ministry of Civil Aviation regarding poor air connectivity of Gir National Park and requested for improving air connectivity," the Ministry told the panel chaired by Congress leader Anand Sharma.

The panel in its 308th report has said that although encroachments and construction around national parks and sanctuaries is in the purview of the states, the Ministry can always impress upon the concerned state governments to comply with the law in this regard.

The action taken report came after the committee in one of its earlier reports had observed that Gir national park is very poorly connected with air and had recommended that the environment ministry should take up the matter with the central and state government agencies so that it can be improved.

The committee in one of its earlier reports had noted that granting of licences to dhabhas and hotels being run near the national park needs to be reviewed keeping in view the fact that a lot of garbage is generated and thrown by them in the area.

The committee had then recommended that illegal construction or encroachment in and around national park should be viewed "seriously" and stringent steps must be taken in this direction.

Now, tourists can book lion safari 30 minutes prior to visit

Now, tourists can book lion safari 30 minutes prior to visit
The Times of India

In a major boost to tourists wanting to seen the endangered Asiatic lion in its natural habitat, the Gujarat forest department has relaxed rules for lion safari bookings being done online.

According to the new rules, tourist can now book a lion safari online just 30 minutes prior to his visit. The forest department has also introduced concept of waiting list for benefit of tourists. The visit permit cancellation time has also been reduced to two hours from the present 48 hours.

Currently, one has to book permit online to visit Devalia Safari Park in Sasan.

Deputy conservator of forest (DCF), Sasan, Ram Ratan Nala said, "Now tourist can book their visit before 30 minutes. Earlier, a visitor needed to book the visit before 48 hours. We have also implemented waiting list concept."

Under the new rules, all waitlisted permits will get confirmed against cancellation on first-come-first-serve basis. The forest department will inform the waitlisted visitor through SMS and email when their permits gets confirm. If permit doesn't get confirm, the waitlisted visitors will be refunded the full fees.

With regard to visit permit cancellation, the timing has been reduced from current 48 hours prior to scheduled visit to two hours.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Foreigners can book Gir visit online

Foreigners can book Gir visit online
The Times of India

Foreign tourists would soon be able to book their visits to Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary sitting in their homes.

The forest department is in talks with several banks to facilitate payment in international currencies on its safari booking website www.girlion.com to facilitate foreigners who are coming in large numbers to watch 'Gujarat's pride.' It is expected that within a month foreigners will be able to book and make payments online from their respective countries.

At present, the foreigners wanting to visit the national park of Devaliya interpretation zone can take online permits only when they come to India and pay in local currency. Currently, this facility is available only to Indian tourists.

After the tie-up with banks, these visitors will be able to use their international credit or debit cards on the booking portal to pay tourist permit charges. The Indian banks will convert the foreign currency and deposit in the account of the forest department.

Sanctuary superintendent of Sasan Dr Ram Ratan Nala said, "This facility will make the online process easier for foreign tourists and we expect their numbers to go up significantly."

In 2016-17, highest number of 6,269 foreign tourists visited Sasan, out which only 410 preferred Devaliya.

A senior forest department officer said, "Most of the foreign tourists prefer visiting Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary because it only has a virtual boundary. They come mainly for photography and videography of Asiatic lions and do bulk booking for five to 10 visits."

On one permit, a tourist in Gir sanctuary gets three hours visiting time, while its just 45 minutes in Devaliya. Majority of foreign tourists come from the UK, US, Germany and France.

Gir sanctuary is spread in 1,421 sq km area of which 258.7 sq km is designated as national park.

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