Monday, December 31, 2007

Young leopard found dead in coconut farm


Young leopard found dead in coconut farm

Indian Express By Sibte Hussain Bukhari

Junagadh, December 30 A Juvenile leopard, aged about three, was found dead in a coconut farm located on the outskirts of Una town in Junagadh district on Friday.

Shantibhai Gajera, the coconut farm owner discovered the carcass on the ground, upon which he immediately informed the forest officials, who then rushed to the spot along with veterinary doctors in tow.

A post mortem report revealed that the animal had died as a result of infighting. The fact that the carcass, including the claws, were found intact, further corroborated this, they said.

When contacted, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Gir East) J S Solanki said, “a full grown leopard had probably killed the animal.”

Solanki said, there were clear-cut signs and evidences of infighting, including pugmark of a full-grown leopard, which was noticed at the spot.

“Territorial disputes often result in fights among big cats. In this case, the leopard had preyed on a calf, but a full grown leopard killed it,” he said.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Driving license must for Gir visit (For vehicles using Sanctuary Roads)


Driving license must for Gir visit (For vehicles using Sanctuary Roads)

Times of India Ahmedabad Edition

Rajkot: Harried over lion poaching, the forest department has decided to increase vigil in the Gir forest, the only abode of Asiatic lions in the world. The department will note down the driving license number of every driver with a private vehicle that enters the sanctuary.

When a private vehicle enters the sanctuary through Dalkhaniya near Dhari in Amreli district now, the guards at the gate will ask for the original driving license and allow the car only after noting down the number. “If the driver is not carrying the original license, the person who is traveling along, will have to give his license number,” said a guard at the gate.

He said in two cases none of the occupants of the vehicle had the license. “We asked for the photo identity card,” he added. Officials said that after the poaching incidents earlier this month, the officials found that vehicles were entering the sanctuary unchecked. They are worried as traps to snare animals were laid within the sanctuary.

Officials said the government has decided to bolster the internal security as well. Many guards were found wanting prompting government to get strict. During inquiry it was found that the guards on night duty on the Una-Talala road were not keeping a record of entry of vehicles in the sanctuary. Now guards will allow only a delay of 15 minutes. “Further delay can land the driver in trouble,” officials added. Conservator of forest Bharat Pathak said the noting of license number also helps the officials to have the identity of at least one person traveling and this would tighten the vigil.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Success in saving Asiatic lion in India hemmed by lack of habitat


Success in saving Asiatic lion in India hemmed by lack of habitat

Live The Wall Street Journal By Elizabeth Roche/ AFP

“From 20 in 1913 to more than 350 today; the Gir lions face a bleak future as land becomes a scare commodity”

Gir (Gujarat): Success in saving the rare Asiatic lion in India has in turn created new challenges to the king of the jungle in its last natural habitat, as problems with human encroachment and poaching mount.

The population of lions in the Gir forest of Gujarat has climbed from 20 in 1913 to more than 350 today, experts said. “The increase in the population of lions in Gir is posing a problem,” said Daval Mehta of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) in Gujarat. “The lions are dispersing to reclaim their earlier habitats, which is bringing them into increasing conflict with humans.”

A wake-up call to the growing troubles for the lion in the Gir forest came this year, when more than 30 of the animals died between January and November—the most lion deaths in one year on official record.

Among the biggest threats to lions are thousands of open wells, said Kishore Kotecha, head of the voluntary Wildlife Conservation Trust, noting that 25 of the animals have drowned in wells between 2002 and 2007.

Farmers and residents of the 158 villages that border Gir have dug some 9,000 wells, and to save money, “they leave the wells uncovered, transforming them into death traps for lions and other animals in the reserve,” Kotecha said.

Lions have also been killed by electric fences built by farmers to keep deer away from their crops.

Increased traffic—cars and buses shuttle pilgrims to four Hindu temples inside the sanctuary—has taken its toll, too, with at least one lion killed by a vehicle this year.

Bharat Pathak, a senior wildlife official overseeing the Gir conservation programme, said work was under way to keep “the sanctuary area free of human encroachments, besides sensitizing people to the behaviour of lions to ensure that there is harmony between the species”.

Those measures include nature education programmes and allowing more people to observe lions in a controlled manner, said Pathak’s deputy, H.S. Sharma.

Genetically different from the sub-Saharan African lion, Asiatic lions are smaller and boast a more modest mane. They have a fold of skin running along the belly—rarely found in their African cousins.

At least 1,000 Asiatic lions roamed India in the 1800s before hunting took its toll.

The highly territorial male lion needs at least 20 sq. km of land to survive, experts said. Under a 2005 census, Gir had 87 fully grown males fighting for too little space.

“It is necessary to increase the reserve area to protect the lions,” Mehta said, noting the Gir Reserve area had not been expanded since the 1970s.

The traditional threat of poaching also remains a major concern for the lion. In March, eight lions were killed by poachers in three separate incidents.

“We have arrested them and registered cases against them,” Pathak said. Once found from Macedonia to Yemen and the subcontinent via Iran, “today, the Asiatic lion...survives only in India,” said Pathak. “That is why it is imperative to continue conservation efforts.”

“The species is recovering,” Pathak said. “But the lion is not yet off the list of endangered species of the World Conservation Union, which means we still have some way to go.”

Given that the revival of the Gir lion population has created many of the problems, the WPSI has suggested re-location of the animals—an idea the Union government is toying with.

“It is important not to fritter away the results achieved so painstakingly over the years. A second unconnected population of lions is essential to ensure survival,” said WPSI executive director Belinda Wright.

Group of six lions kills 11 cattleheads


Group of six lions kills 11 cattle heads

Indian Express By Sibte Hussain Bukhari

Junagadh, December 22 A Group of six lions, reportedly roaming in the revenue area, went on a rampage in the outskirts of Sukhpur village on Friday, killing 11 domestic animals. The incident occurred on Sukhpur-Dalkhania road in an area adjoining the forest near Dhari in Gir East forest division.

Reports said that over six lions were seen roaming in the outskirts of the village. They later attacked grazing cattle and killed 10 goats and a calf on the spot. A cattle owner, Bhaya Bharwad, managed to escape unhurt.

The attack by the predators created havoc among shepherds and farmers working in the fields. According to the villagers, the lions had reached very close to the human habitat. Later, village Sarpanch Yousuf Juneja informed forest officials. However, by the time they reached the spot, the group of lions had disappeared.

Lioness carcass recovered from Gir East, foul play ruled out; elsewhere Lioness attacks a farmer; elsewhere Leopard falls in open well


Lioness carcass recovered from Gir East, foul play ruled out; elsewhere Lioness attacks a farmer; elsewhere Leopard falls in open well

Indian Express By Sibte Hussain Bukhari

Junagadh, December 25 The carcass of a full grown lioness was found on Tuesday from the Gir East forest division, while in two separate incidents, a lioness along with her cub attacked a farmer injuring him badly, while a a leopard which had fallen into a well near Keshod, was rescued unhurt and released again.

Forest officials said, the carcass of a lioness aged about six years was found lying on the forest floor in Bhania, under the Tulshishyam range in Gir East forest division.

Deputy conservator of forest (Gir East) J S Solanki, said, prima facie it did not seem to be a case of foul play.

"All claws and organs were found intact. A panel comprising three veterinary doctors has conducted a post-mortem on the spot, but the exact cause of the death has not been established. We have dispatched the animal's viscera to veterinary college —Anand and Forensic Science Laboratory — Junagadh, for a detailed clinical examination. Only after receiving these reports, will the exact cause of death be ascertained," he said.


Meanwhile, in another incident on Monday afternoon, a lioness attacked Bhana Koli, a farmer, on the outskirts of Vajadi village near Una. Koli received injuries on the chest and on his leg. He, however, showed great courage and fought with the big cat, which escaped from the scene. Koli was admitted to the Government Hospital at Una, where he is said to be out of danger.

According to forest officials, the lioness and her cubs had become a frequent visitor to the revenue area outside Gir. On Monday, forest department officials had commenced on an exercise to locate the feline and her cubs, when the big cat chanced upon Koli in a maize field, and pounced on him.

Elsewhere, on Thursday, a full grown leopard was evacuated from a well, located on the outskirts of Bhanduri village in Keshod taluka. When informed, trekkers and a rescue team from Sasan Gir forest rushed to the spot. Deputy Conservator of forest (Girnar range) B T Chadhasania said, "rescue operations were completed this afternoon. The leopard has been rescued un-hurt and released in the forest."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Panther, cub make old Rajkot their home


Panther, cub make old Rajkot their home

Indian Express

Rajkot, December 20 Just a couple of days after Asiatic lions were spotted far away from the jungle at Mahuva in Bhavnagar district, a panther with a cub in tow, is believed to have made Rajkot its home, some 150 km away from the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.

Forest department officials confirmed after four days of close observation that a panther and its cub have taken sanctuary in a small cave near Khadpith in Old Rajkot. The department, on Thursday, installed a cage with a bait to capture the animals.

The presence of a carnivore in the area came to light after a cow was found dead on last Saturday. Forest department officials initially reported either a panther or a hyena had fed on that livestock. But a close examination of the pugmarks revealed that it was a panther and not a hyena.

Officials have also traced the animal’s location through stool samples. “Stool samples were found outside this particular cave like structure near Khadpith, which is located very near to the Aji riverbed,” said Divisional Forest Officer G P Vadi. He said, “A team of forest department officials have been patrolling the area since the last four days. After it was confirmed on Thursday, that it’s a panther, probably with also a cub also, we have put up a cage to catch the big cat.”

Forest officials are, nevertheless, clueless, as to how a panther reached all the way to Rajkot from the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. Panthers, like their bigger cousins, the Asiatic lions, have often been found wandering outside the forest area, but mostly on the coastal belt. As such, this is all the more surprising since Rajkot doesn’t fall even on the coastal belt.

New Sanctuary for Asiatic Lions being planned by State - Central Govt.


New Sanctuary for Asiatic Lions being planned by State – Central Govt.

Source: Divya Bhaskar (Briefly translated from Gujarati)

There are 359 Asiatic Lions in their last abode in Gir forest. Lions have been straying outside the sanctuary because of space constraint. Thus State and Central Govt. are thinking to add 300 sq. km more area to the existing 1460 sq. km. Necessary proposals have been prepared for the same.

In last two decades two regions have been added to the area of National Park. Still the the king of the jungle is wandering outside as far as sea-side of Mahuva and Vallabhipur. Looing to the situation it has been decided to further extend the area of existing 1460 sq km area.

A team headed by PCCF Shri Pradeep Khanna is studying the proposal. If the proposal is approved by the Central Govt. then the area adjoinging existing sanctuary will be added.

At present there are about 25 lions in Jesar and Mityala sanctuary area, 25 lions have made Bhavnagar district as their permanent home and also about 8 lions are regularly found in Umrala and Mahuva towns, as per information of Forest Dept. If the expansion proposal is successful then in true sense king of the jungle will have best habitat.

Together Lets Save Gir and Asiatic Lion

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gir lions spread far and wide in search of new territory


Gir lions spread far and wide in search of new territory

Indian Express By Hiral Dave

Rajkot, December 17 After the Forest department spotted two Asiatic lions at the coastal town of Pingleshwar near Mahuva in Bhavnagar district, the question looming large is whether this species of the big cats require more space.

Since 1985, lions have started looking outside the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode for the Asiatic Lions. In the last two decades, the jungle king has expanded its kingdom on the coastal belt from Sutrapada in Junagadh to Khmbha in Amreli districts. As a result of this dispersion, away from forest, the present population of lions in the coastal belt stands at more than 100.

But, now, they have been showing signs of dispersion to farther areas, as well. "Two male lions have been spotted at Pingleshwar near Mahuva. In the last two weeks they have fed on livestock," said an official with the Bhavnagar District Division Forest Office. The official said the lions might have followed the coastal belt of Rampara, Bheradi, Victor, Patwa, Dodiya and Khared to reach Pingleshwar.

"Pingleshwar is located 35 kilometres from Rajula, which was so far the remotest dispersion site. But, what we are seeing here, are signs of further dispersion," said Amit Jethva, president of Gir nature Youth Club.

Officials are, however, adopting a policy of wait and watch before coming to any conclusion. "The department needs to keep a close watch on their movements. We need to see whether they come back to Amreli district in a few days or stay in Mahuva, find prey, breed and settle down," said Conservator of Forest, Bharat Pathak.

Extra-ordinary courage shown by women to save her children from Leopard in Gir Forest Area


Extra-ordinary courage shown by women to save her children from Leopard in Gir Forest Area

Gujarat Samachar (Briefly translated from Gujarati)

December 14, Junagadh: A women was living with her family in a tent in Sugar cane farm in Savni village in Talala Taluka. She had come with her husband from outside Gujarat state to work as labour in agriculture farms. They were living in tent with their three children (one to four years old). She was aged about 30 years.

On Thursday night her children were sleeping inside and she was sleeping outside near the gate of the tent. Her husband Fakirabhai had gone out for the work.

In the mean time, on chilly night, she was awakened by noise of leopard trying to enter the tent. She courageously tried to block the way of leopard. In turn leopard attacked her furiously and seriously injured her. During this fight, noise awakened other people and the leopard ran away.

Later she was admitted to the hospital and had about 40 stitches on her wounds.

Poaching racket unearthed in Gir revenue area


Poaching racket unearthed in Gir revenue area

Indian Express By Sibte Hussaqin Bukhari

Junagadh, December 14: After the lions, now it's the turn of other wild animals to be hunted along the periphery of the Gir sanctuary. The poaching racket – running rampantly in the revenue area, adjoining Gir forest, and unearthed by the forest officials – was involved in the killing of spotted dear, wild boar, porcupine and the peacock.

"A hunting racket was running in the revenue area – on the outskirts of Aankolwadi village falling under the Aankolwadi range some 25 km from Talala town in Gir West forest division," said B P Pati, deputy conservator of forest (Gir west).

He said the gang was also found involved in illegal wood cutting deep inside the forest. Three persons, including a woman and the owner of the agriculture land, where all poaching activities took place, were arrested in this connection on December 10 and 11, but some eight-nine involved in this crime are still at large.

"During interrogation the accused revealed that some eight-nine people are also involved in this racket. We have carried out raids at different locations but they are still at large. Efforts are on to nab them soon," Pati said.

Forest officials recovered deer skin and venison, wild-boar teeth, peacock feathers, knives used in slaughtering the animals, hunting materials including traps and electric wire, and teak wood from the three accused. They have now been booked under various provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and sent to two days custody.

According to Pati, the three admitted to having killed till date, four deer, two porcupines and one wild boar. "We have recovered spotted deer skin, venison, wild-boar's teeth, traps and material used in electrocuting wild animals, from their possession," he said.

Jayram Akbari, owner of the land said, he along with Rani and Dinu Devipoojak, the other two arrested, killed the animals by electrocuting them. After the kill, the carcass was handed over to the other gang-members. He said most of the people involved in the crime belong to the Devipoojak community and were locals.

Rani and Dinu are also resident of Aankolwadi village. Authorities have recovered peacock feathers from their possession. "We have recovered peacock feathers from them. It is presumed that they have poached the national bird," Pati said, adding that these locals don't have any connection with professional poachers, unlike Madhya Pradesh's tribal gang. "They are not involved in poaching of big cats. It seems that, basically, their aim of killing deer, wild boars, porcupines and peacocks are, to use and sell its meat and for trophy. During the raid conducted on Jayram house at Aankolwadi village, we also recovered some 35 CFT teakwood - worth rupees 35 thousand," said Pati.

The punishment for these offences is imprisonment between three to seven years and fine or both, he added.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Three caught in poaching spotted deer by Electrified fencing near Gir forest


Three caught in poaching spotted deer by Electrified fencing near Gir forest

Gujarat Samachar (Briefly Translated from Gujarati)

A racket of spotted deer poaching by electrocution and selling its meat was exposed by forest department in Ankolwadi village of Taluka Talala. Forest department has arrested three people including farmer of the land involved in the scam.

Today ACF – Talala was patrolling when they show a Raniben Bachubhai of Devi Pujak (koli) community who was carrying meat for sale. She was stopped for inquiry.

She was arrested and deer skin, peacock feathers and other wild animal parts were found from her house. On further interrogation of the women and her son, they revealed that they hunted deer with person named Vinod of their community.

They also stated that farmer Jerambhai Akbari used to put electric current in fencing of his farm in Ankolwadi village. And when deer died of electric current, they used to sell the same to koli people.

Arrested accepted that they had killed two deer so far. They were presented before the Hon. Court with request for further remand. Forest department has further finding Vinod involved in the case.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A dead lion found near Machundri Dam


A dead lion found near Machundri Dam

Gujarat Samachar (Briefly Translated from Gujarati)


A carcass of male lion, age about 11 years, was found on the bank of Machundri Reservoir in Jasadhar Range of Gir East. As primarily reason of death is not known, samples have been sent to Anand Laboratory. On site postmortem was done by Veterinary doctors from Junagadh, Jasadhar and Samter. Mouth of the animal was submerged in water and all 18 claws were intact. Hence possibilities of poaching are rejected by the Gujarat Forest Department officers. This lion was given treatment before six months and was let free after that.


Kishore Kotecha’s comment: To me it looks like death due to ill health and hence natural death.

Task Force caught Sabbir assumed to be involved in Lion Poaching


Task Force caught Sabbir assumed to be involved in Lion Poaching

Divya Bhasker (Briefly Translated from Gujarati)


On Dec 8, Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh, headed by SP Amithabh, has caught defamed Sabbir and 15 others with 80 kgs of Tiger bones at Allahabad. To find out involvement of Sabbir in lion poaching and to verify possibilities of bones as the lion bones, three members of Gujarat Police and one member of Gandhinagar – FSL has left for Allahabad. Police is also investingating link of Sabbir with Sarakaslal, key accused in lion poaching.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Gujarat opposes move to send Gir lions to MP


Gujarat opposes move to send Gir lions to MP

NEW DELHI: The Centre's grand plan to relocate some of the Asiatic lions from their only home at Gir forest in Gujarat to the forests of Madhya Pradesh has run into serious opposition from the Narendra Modi government.

The plan, to save the lions from a disaster that could wipe them out in one go, involved relocating five of them from Gir to a 300 sqkm forest at Kunopalpur in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh.

As many as 30 villages falling within the identified area were relocated in 2003, but the plan mooted by the Wildlife Institute of India and accepted by the Centre is still hanging fire. A petition filed by Bio-diversity Conservation Trust of India through counsel Ritwick Datta alleged that the main reason for the stalling of the plan was the U-turn by the Narendra Modi government.

When amicus curiae Raj Panjwani brought this matter to the notice of a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran, it sought the views of both state governments as well as the National Board for Wildlife within four weeks.

Appearing for the Gujarat government, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi said the state's opposition to the plan was based on environmental grounds. He said even wildlife experts felt that lions could not be relocated to experimental surroundings already inhabited by tigers.

"The experts feel that tigers and lions can never co-exist in the wild," he said, rejecting the argument of the petitioner that the Gujarat government had changed its stand due to the ensuing assembly elections.

Madhya Pradesh's counsel Vibha Makhija said that she would ascertain the views of the state government and file a response even as the Bench said: "The plan appears to safeguard the Asiatic lions from perishing altogether as they live in groups within the confines of Gir forest."

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