Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Asiatic Lion: The Exceptional Big Cat

Asiatic Lion: The Exceptional Big Cat
The Lovely Planet

The only remaining population of the Asiatic Lion is fighting for their survival in the Gir Forest National Park of India. This wildlife sanctuary park is a protected area in the Indian state Gujarat located 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh and 60 km to south west of Amreli where the estimated number of the Asiatic Lion is 410. Apart from this rare big cat of India, this national park is also home of many other mammal species, reptiles and birds.The historic figures suggest that the Asiatic Lion, the exceptional big cat once lived in the whole Indian Subcontinent, Iran and even in some parts of Italy and Greece.

The Asiatic Lion is the first cousin of the North African Barbary Lion which is extinct from our lovely planet. They have almost the same features especially, the same belly fold (hidden under their manes) as those were observed in the Barbary Lions. The Asiatic lion is biologically known as "Panthera leo persica" and with some other names as the Indian lion, Persian Lion and Eurasian lion. The Asiatic Lions are bit smaller in their sizes as compare to the African Lions but the other qualities are almost same as they are belligerent in their nature and their colors range from reddish-brown to a highly mottled black to sandy cinnamon grey. The adult male Asiatic Lion has the maximum skull length of 340 mm, while that of females is 266–277 mm. They can gain the average weight of 160–190 kg for the males and 110–120 kg  for the females .The Asiatic Lion is a very social big cat which loves to live in the groups with an average number of the members from 4 to 5 and these groups are known as "prides". The Asiatic Lions usually prey deer, antelope, gazelle, wild boar, water buffalo and livestock.

Before the start of the twentieth century, the Asiatic Lions were brutally hunted and their population was almost eliminated. However after that, with the efforts of the local authorities and the royal family of Junagadh, their area was declared as a protected zone and the current population of the Asiatic Lion is the consequence of those conservation efforts that were carried on for the survival of the Asiatic Lion. The Asiatic Lion has a very slow and complicated breeding rate.

The biggest threat to the life of the Asiatic Lion is the rapid human development and the quick habitat loss. The ideal living place for the Asiatic Lion is the open grasslands which are mostly converted into agricultural lands. Although there is a complete ban and restriction upon the hunting of the Asiatic Lion, yet they are poisoned for attacking livestock. Some of the other major threats include floods, fires, and epidemics. Their restricted range makes them especially vulnerable. The local tribes which normally belong to the profession of cattle breeding are also a major threat to the population of the Asiatic Lion. They dislike the attacks on their animal herds and they want to graze their animals in the grasslands.

Asiatic Lion, the exceptional big cat was a popular entity in the ancient Indian Art, Mythology and it appeared as the emblem of the national importance in many countries like India, Sri Lanka and Iran. The Asiatic lion makes repeated appearances in the Bible, most notably as having fought Samson in the Book of Judges. Similarly the symbol of the lion is closely tied to the Persian people. Achaemenid kings were known to carry the symbol of the lion on their thrones and garments.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Young lion found dead in Gir

Young lion found dead in Gir
The Indian Express

A one-year-old Asiatic lion was found dead at Khamba in the Dhari range of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary on Friday. Forest officials ruled out any foul play, saying the animal might have died during infighting in a pride.

"Post mortem revealed injury marks around its neck. The injury seemed to be a result of infighting. It was very severe and proved fatal," said deputy conservator of forest Anshuman Sharma.

Lions pressured by fodder shortage

Lions pressured by fodder shortage
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

Gujarat foresters are dealing with a new threat to the Gir wildlife sanctuary. Scarcity of fodder on the periphery of the sanctuary is forcing politicians to pressure the forest department to permit Maldharis to bring their cattle inside the sanctuary for grazing.

Forest officials said that MLAs from the ruling party were trying to ensure that the Maldhari community around the sanctuary was allowed into Gir, Girnar, and Mitiyala sanctuaries. Sources said the pressure was constant.

This being an election year, officers are in a fix as members of the two main political parties want local inhabitants to illegally enter the area.

Bhagvan Bharwad, the MLA from Talala, said: "We will wait till Sunday and if there is no rain, we will make representations to the state government and even write to chief minister to permit grazing in the forest." Bharwad said grass was not available and one could not let animals die for want of food. "If the forest department or the state government refuses to give us permission, we will enter the forest without permission," he said. "Let them take action."

A forest official said that in the recent past, a couple of attempts were made to enter the forest but guards prevented people from venturing deep into the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is closed for public for four months during monsoon, from June 15. Forest officials said that during this period the danger of lion attack was high. If Maldharis were permitted to enter the forest with cattle, risk to their lives would be immense.

Forest officials said that Maldharis were illegally allowing their cattle to graze in areas near the boundary of the sanctuary. "This is the peak season for breeding for not just the big cats, but even for the herbivores," a forest official said. "The newborn of the herbivores learn to walk. At such a time, if cattle is permitted to graze in the sanctuary, they could be a nuisance to the newborn."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why rare Asiatic lions stray out of Gir forest

Why rare Asiatic lions stray out of Gir forest

Haresh Pandya tries to find out what ails the rare Asiatic lions of Saurashtra's Gir forest and why they stray out of their only habitat in the world.

While there has been a steady increase in the population of the rare Asiatic lions in the dense forests of Gir in the Saurashtra peninsula of Gujarat in the last fifteen years, there have also been many incidents of their untimely deaths, including by poachers until recently for their priceless claws and teeth.

Officially there were 309 lions in 1995, 321 in 2001 and 359 in 2005. In the last census, conducted in 2011, there were 526 lions in Gir forests.

This may not be a big figure, but considering the fact that Gir is spread in an area of only 1,412 sq km, it is an enormous number.

Usually a single adult lion requires grassland of about, say, 25 sq km to live and roam comfortably. Wildlife experts familiar with the geography of Gir believe its forests cannot provide shelter to more than 200 lions, all factors considered. (And one is not even talking about other big cats, particularly leopards, which are already there in a larger number to accompany the lions.)

'One can only feel sorry for the lions and other animals'
Consequently they tend to step out of what is their only habitat in the world and explore hamlets and villages on the periphery of Gir in search of preys, much to the chagrin of their inhabitants, who are concerned not only about their own lives but also their livestock, and to the delight of poachers.

As if that was not enough, there is an alarming increase in encroachment in the very heart of Gir. There are at least four major temples in Gir, of which Kankai and Tulshishyam are very famous and remain crowded with hundreds of pilgrims throughout the year, except during the monsoon.

Add to these a railway line and a couple of roads on which government and private vehicles regularly ply and the plight of the Gir wildlife is complete. One can only feel sorry for the lions and other animals.

Incidents of a lion or two, or even a pride for that matter, straying out of their protected areas and attacking and killing domesticated animals of farmers, shepherds, milkmen and other settlers living on the outskirts of Gir are neither uncommon nor infrequent. (Of late they have started fatally attacking even humans sleeping outside their homes in the dead of night.)

In fact, at times the Gir lion is sighted even on the coastal areas of Una, Seemar, Kodinar, Sutrapada, Veraval, and even the stunningly picturesque island of Diu, which is a favourite destination of many a tourist.

Gujarat and MP governments tussle over Gir lions
There has been a move by the government of India for translocation of a specific number of lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh.

But the Gujarat government has strongly and persistently opposed any such move, arguing that when Madhya Pradesh is unable to protect its tigers, what is the guarantee that the lions will be safer there. It is also argued that lions and tigers cannot live together.

On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh government says that it is very risky to keep the entire lot of lions at one particular place; arguing that any epidemic or natural or man-made calamity may wipe out the entire population of the already rare Asiatic lions.

A long legal battle has been going on between Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh governments in the Supreme Court for many years over this issue.

There was an "outer" Gir within Gujarat almost a hundred years ago, covering, among other areas, the forests on the Barda hills near Porbandar.
There were lions on Barda in the past. But today the forest area of Barda is spread across only 192 sq km.

Another problem is there is nothing for the lion to hunt for its prey on Barda, not even species of the deer. To develop all this, and much more besides, is a Himalayan task.

However, the Gujarat government has already started lion breeding centres in Barda as well as at Rampara near Rajkot and Jesar near Bhavnagar.

The idea is to develop these small forest areas of Saurashtra as second homes of sorts for a select few lions and reduce the "burden" on an already congested Gir.

Some wildlife experts are also in favour of shifting several lions from Gir to Hingolgadh hills in Rajkot district.

Lion cubs of Gir have little resistance against certain diseases
Of course, it could be dangerous to have more lions living in smaller areas like these. According to medical experts, the population of Gir lions is inbreeding and hence their cubs have little resistance power against certain diseases.

More than 150 lions are reported to have died in Gir in the last five years and at least 50 per cent of them were cubs.

Concerned wildlife activists warn that if a certain number of Gir lions are not shifted somewhere else, they will continue to  die untimely deaths at regular intervals.

Gir has long reached a saturation point. The forest has already been very dense in many parts.

"The density of Gir has touched an alarming figure of almost 80 per cent. Lions in particular find it difficult to live comfortably in the dense forests. They do not get their prey on time. Something must be done to lessen the density of Gir," says a wildlife expert.

But it is not easy. The lions can always feel at home in the grassland. But you cannot cut teak plantation to reduce the density of the forest because of the environment law.

"The trouble is that if you try to solve one problem, you face two new ones! But something must be done by all concerned to conserve the rare Asiatic lions," adds another nature and wildlife lover.

Illegal lion shows go on for Gir tourists

Illegal lion shows go on for Gir tourists
The Economic Times

Tour operators in Gir offer live cattle as bait to lions in order to to show tourists how the big cats hunt, which is illegal.

Wildlife activists have demanded a ban on illegal lion shows in Amreli district on the outskirts of Gujarat's Gir sanctuary, where cattle is set as bait for Asiatic lions to entertain tourists. The last such instance was reported near Khambha on Saturday.

Jilu Bhukal, a Khambha resident who is a member of the cow protection committee, was patrolling the area when a group of people "said cattle was being taken for slaughter". "I immediately filed a complaint with the police and alerted the forest department as I suspected lions were being exploited."

Bhagu Soni, a Khambha wildlife activist, said the shows had become common. "We were told on Saturday that more than 200 people from different villages visited the place where a lion killed a cattle and was eating it," said Soni. The practice is illegal and the activist demanded it be stopped immediately.

Illegal lion shows go on for Gir tourists

Illegal lion shows go on for Gir tourists
Times of India

Tour operators in Gir offer live cattle as bait to lions in order to to show tourists how the big cats hunt, which is illegal.

Wildlife activists have demanded a ban on illegal lion shows in Amreli district on the outskirts of Gujarat's Gir sanctuary, where cattle is set as bait for Asiatic lions to entertain tourists. The last such instance was reported near Khambha on Saturday.

Jilu Bhukal, a Khambha resident who is a member of the cow protection committee, was patrolling the area when a group of people "said cattle was being taken for slaughter". "I immediately filed a complaint with the police and alerted the forest department as I suspected lions were being exploited."

Bhagu Soni, a Khambha wildlife activist, said the shows had become common. "We were told on Saturday that more than 200 people from different villages visited the place where a lion killed a cattle and was eating it," said Soni. The practice is illegal and the activist demanded it be stopped immediately.

Activists want illegal lion shows banned

Activists want illegal lion shows banned
Times of India

Illegal lion shows near Khambha in Amreli district has worried wildlife activists.

On Saturday night, Jilu Bhukal, a Khambha resident was passing through Piplva on Chaturi road at around 12:30 am when he got suspicious on spotting some people by the roadside.

"When I inquired, a person told me he that he is from the forest department and started abusing me. I am a member of the cow protection committee and I got a tip-off about cattle being taken to slaughter house and I went for patrolling on that road. After a scuffle with the person, I immediately filed an application with Khambha police and informed the forest department. I suspect that there was lion show going on,'' Bhukal alleged.

According to Bhagu Soni, wildlife activist from Khambha, illegal lion shows have become common now.

"Within few minutes, people from Rajula, Dhari and Savarkundla reached the village when they heard about the lion's kill,'' he said.

"We got information that on Saturday night, more than 200 people from different villages visited the place where a lion killed a cattle and was eating it,'' Soni said.

Explaining the modus operandi, Soni said when a lion kills any cattle, the show organizers snatch the prey and drag it to some topographically higher places from where they can safely watch the lion eating its kill.

"This is absolutely illegal practice and it should stopped as it harasses lions,'' Soni said.

Soni said that in some cases, dead cattle were being dragged using tractors to organize such lion shows for fun.

"We are getting regular complaints from villages. In the time of scarcity, people have abandoned their cattle in large numbers. These cattle are tied to trees near a lion's territory and people wait for the lion to come and devour it. We have informed the forest department about this in the past too,'' said Himanshu Bhatt, another wildlife lover from Savarkundla.

However, when contacted, Tulsishyam range forest officer NB Pardva denied that lion shows were being held in his area. "All accusations about lion shows near Khambha are false. As far as Saturday night's incident, I have received the application from Jilubhai Bhukal and we will investigate this matter," Pardva said.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two cow hunting by lions Khisri village of Dhari

Two cow hunting by lions Khisri village of Dhari
Divya Bhaskar

ધારીનાં ખીસરીમાં ગામમાં ઘૂસી સાવજે કર્યું બે ગાયનું મારણ

જળજીવડીમાં પણ સાવજે એક વાછરડાને ફાડી ખાધો

ગીર જંગલનાં કાંઠાનાં ગામડાઓમાં સાવજોનો ત્રાસ સતત વધતો જ જાય છે. આ વિસ્તારમાં વસતા સાવજો દ્વારા માલધારીઓના માલઢોરનું છાશવારે મારણ કરવામાં આવે છે. ગઇ સવારે ધારીના ખીસરીમાં ગામમાં ઘુસી સાવજોએ બે ગાયનું મારણ કર્યુ હતું. આ ઉપરાંત જળજીવડીમાં પણ એક વાછરડાને ફાડી ખાધો હતો.

ગામમાં ઘુસી સિંહ દ્વારા ગાયનું મારણ કર્યાની ઘટનાં ધારી તાલુકાનાં ખીસરી ગામે બની હતી ખીસરીનાં જયસુખભાઇ પાટડીયાની એક ગાય ઘર બહાર બાંધેલી હતી. ગઇ વહેલી સવારે એક સિંહ ગામમાં આવી ચડયો હતો. અને તેમનાં ઘર બહાર બાંધેલી ગાયને મારી નાખી હતી. આ ઉપરાંત સાવજો ગામમાં એક રેઢીયાર ગાયને પણ મારી નાખી હતી. આ દરમિયાન ગામલોકો જાગી જતાં સિંહ મારણ મુકી ચાલ્યો ગયો હતો. તાલુકા પંચાયતનાં સદસ્ય રમેશભાઇ ભારોલાએ આ અંગે વન વિભાગને જાણ કરતા આરએફઓ એ.વી.ઠાકર સ્ટાફ સાથે નીસરી દોડી ગયા હતા અને આગળની કાર્યવાહી શરૂ કરી હતી.

આવી જ રીતે ધારી તાલુકાનાં જળજીવડી ગામની સીમમાં સાવજ દ્વારા એક વાછરડાનું પણ મારણ કરવામાં આવ્યુ હતું. ગીર કાઠાના ગામડાઓમાં ભૂખ્યા સાવજો દ્વારા આ રીતે અવાર-નવાર માલધારીઓનાં ઉપયોગી પશુનું મારણ કરાય છે.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

MP plays Serengeti card to root for lions at Kuno

MP plays Serengeti card to root for lions at Kuno
Times of India By Dhananjay Mahapatra

Countering Gujarat's opposition to lion translocation project, the Madhya Pradesh government told the Supreme Court that a second habitat for Asiatic Lions in Kuno — cleared by National Board of Wildlife — was mandatory to avoid Tanzania's disastrous experience in Serengeti where outbreak of an epidemic almost wiped out the lion population.

Madhya Pradesh met with disdain Gujarat's apprehension about safety of lions. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government did not deny the past lapses allowing poachers to wipe out entire tiger population in Panna, but said the new model of wildlife protection had got it laurels from many quarters and its efforts being replicated by other states.

"Although the state has been criticized severely for the extinction of tiger from the Panna National Park, the state has been in the last few years able to translocate and reintroduce tiger in the Panna National Park and currently can boast of new population of 14 tigers," the state said through its standing counsel Vibha Dutta Makhija.

"The efforts of the state have been duly recognized by Tiger Authority of India, which assessed the performance of the state of MP as outstanding," she said.

MP said Asiatic Lions continued to be in the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and hence, "must be relocated and reintroduced in an area which would be suitable alternative habitat for its survival in the event of outbreak of any epidemic".

On the suitability of Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, MP said it was the historical range of Asiatic Lion, though the modern habitat was limited to Gujarat's Gir forests. To avoid any disease posing grave threat to lions concentrated in one location, there was consensus among experts and scientists for setting up of a second free-ranging population of Asiatic Lions, it said.

MP said effort to establish second home for Asiatic Lions was first made in 1957 by examining the suitability of Chandraprabha Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, but later in 2008, the National Board of Wildlife on February 18, 2008, unanimously recommended translocation of lions from Gujarat to Kuno Palpur, which was reiterated in December, 2009.

"With the highest technical body National Board for Wildlife taking a decision and confirming it after a review, the parties/stakeholders are required to implement the same and in the event of their non-implementation, it is open for the Supreme Court to direct the same," it said.

Gujarat had also objected translocation of lions to Kuno Palpur on the ground that the state was planning to reintroduce cheetahs there and that the cats could not co-exist.

MP said, "As far as introduction of cheetah is concerned, the said project is in its initial stage and is yet to be panned out. In view of the stay order passed by the Supreme Court on May 8, it is clear that presently the project of introduction of cheetah is not to be implemented, and thus, the said objection (of Gujarat) is infructuous."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lion family come in Bhakshi

Lion family come in Bhakshi
Divya Bhaskar

રાજુલાથી પાંચેક કિમી દુર આવેલા ભાક્ષી ગામના પાદરમાં આજે સાંજના સુમારે બે સિંહ પરિવાર પાણીની શોધમાં આવી ચડતા મોટી સંખ્યામાં ગામલોકો તેમજ રાજુલાથી પણ લોકો સિંહ દર્શન માટે ઉમટી પડ્યા હતા. આ વિસ્તારમાં તળાવ આવેલુ હોય અવારનવાર જંગલમાંથી સિંહો પાણી પીવા આવી ચડે છે. આ અંગે પોલીસને જાણ થતા પોલીસ પણ દોડી આવી હતી. અને લોકોને સિંહ નજીક ન જવા અનુરોધ કરી સિંહને જંગલ તરફ હટાવ્યા હતા.

ભાક્ષી ગામે સાંજના સાતેક વાગ્યાના સુમારે બે સિંહ અને બે સિંહણ ગામના પાદરમાં આવી ચડતા આ વાતની જાણ થતા મોટી સંખ્યામાં ગામ લોકો સિંહ દર્શન માટે ગામના ટિંબે આવી પહોંચ્યા હતા. અને સિંહ દર્શનનો લ્હાવો લીધો હતો. સિંહ પરિવાર ડુંગર ઉપર લટારો મારી હતી. આ વિસ્તારમાં તળાવ આવેલુ હોય અવારનવાર જંગલમાંથી સિંહો પાણી પીવા માટે આવી ચડે છે. સિંહ દર્શન માટે મોટી સંખ્યામાં લોકો ઉમટી પડ્યા હોય રાજુલાના પીએસઆઇ વાગડીયા, પીએસઆઇ ગોદિંયા સહિત સ્ટાફ પણ દોડી આવ્યો હતો. અને લોકોને દુર હટાવીને સિંહ પરિવારને હાકલા પડકારા કરી જંગલ તરફ ધકેલી દીધા હતા.

Monday, August 20, 2012

For Lucknow zoo, lions to be brought from Gujarat

For Lucknow zoo, lions to be brought from Gujarat
The Indian Express

UP will be getting two Asiatic lions from Rajkot zoo in Gujarat as part of the animal exchange programme between the zoos. "Instead of approaching different state governments, the UP Forests Department has asked its zoos to directly approach zoos in different parts of the country for procuring the lions. The deliberations are also going on with some other zoos, including with the authorities of Junagadh zoo," said a senior Forests Department official. The lions from Rajkot zoo will be procured through a barter system. In exchange for two lions — one male and one female — some animals from Lucknow zoo, including two ghariyals, four hyenas, four kalij pheasants, four silver pheasants, four golden pheasants and some other birds and animals, will be given to the zoo in Gujarat. The state zoos will also be getting two lions from Hyderabad zoo. They will be exchanged with some rhinos from Kanpur zoo.

Director of Lucknow zoo, Renu Singh, said the four-year-old lioness named Heer will be relocated to Lucknow zoo within six months while the lion, which is a cub right now, will be transferred once it reaches maturity.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lion pair avidly awaits younger associates

Lion pair avidly awaits younger associates
Times of India

Get ready to have a closer look at Asiatic lions. The ageing lion pair of Prince and Shubhangi at Lucknow zoo is set to get a 'much younger' company soon. The enclosure adjacent to them will house a new pair of lions coming from Rajkot zoo in Gujarat.

The new pair, besides being young, will also be genetically superior as it will be of pure bloodline.

At present, Lucknow zoo has two lions. The male lion Prince is almost 18-year-old and has lived its prime while the lioness Shubhangi too is almost of the same age as Prince. Prince and Shubhangi were brought to city zoo from Chandigarh zoo in April 2003.

They are hybrid lions - a cross between Asiatic and African lions. Another lioness, Baby, also a hybrid, died in May this year.

Given the law which does not allow propagation of hybrids, zoo authorities never paired the male and the females.

As a result, no cubs were born in the zoo and the number of lions remained stagnant.

"Both the lions which we have right now are very old," said zoo director Renu Singh. In such a situation bringing in a new pair of lions was almost necessary. With the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) giving its consent to the exchange of animals between Lucknow zoo and Rajkot zoo, a four-year-old lioness, Hir, and a year-old lion cub will soon be part of Lucknow zoo's extended family.

Hir was born to Viral and Masti, a pair of asiatic lions at Rajkot zoo, in February 2008.

While the cub was born to Moj and Arjun, another pair of Asiatic lions at Rajkot zoo in October 2011. CZA has given six months to complete the exchange of animals. While Hir will be brought in first, the cub will be brought in only after he is weaned to nourishment other than his mother's milk.

While cub is too little right now, Hir is a fertile female as she gave birth to three cubs during her stay in Rajkot zoo. Hir and the cub will be kept separately at Lucknow zoo. Rajkot zoo will be getting ghariyals, hyenas, palm cevit cats, pelicans and several types of pheasants from Lucknow zoo in exchange of lions. When the lions of pure bloodline breed, they give birth to cubs of pure bloodline.

A four-year-old lioness, Hir, and a year-old lion cub will soon be part of Lucknow zoo's extended family. Hir was born to Viral and Masti, a pair of asiatic lions at Rajkot zoo, in February 2008. While the cub was born to Moj and Arjun, another pair of Asiatic lions at Rajkot zoo in October 2011.

Friday, August 17, 2012

500 artificial ponds to be filled up for thirsty lions in Gir National Park

500 artificial ponds to be filled up for thirsty lions in Gir National Park
Times of India

Junagadh district has received only 10 per cent of the rain it normally gets, forcing the forest department to put in place its contingency plan to ensure that lions' thirst is quenched.

The forest department has to keep replenishing more than 500 artificial waterholes in the Gir National Park and its periphery. However, the department is worried because there are no such arrangements for lion zones in Amreli, Bhavnagar and coastal areas.

Scarcity forces Maldharis to leave cattle at lions' mercy

Scarcity forces Maldharis to leave cattle at lions' mercy
Times of India By Vijaysinh Parmar

Maldhari from Piplava village in Khambha taluka of Amreli district Akan Mobh recently abandoned his seven cattle heads in nearby Gir forest area as he was unable to provide fodder to them. The only means of his family's livelihood will soon become prey of lions or other carnivorous wild animals.

"With no fodder available in nearby area and the inability to purchase it at a very high cost, my nephew Akan finally abandoned the animals and he is now engaged as a casual laborer in the village,'' says Akan's uncle Jasu Mobh, who resides in adjoining Mobhnesh village. Mobh's family belongs to Maldhari community that primarily depends on cattle milk as the main source of income.

Pride of 7 lions kill 8 cows inside Jeera village near Dhari

Pride of 7 lions kill 8 cows inside Jeera village near Dhari
Divya Bhaskar

ગામની શેરીઓમાં રખડતી ગાયો પર સાત સાવજો તૂટી પડ્યા

- ધારીના જીરા ગામે સાવજોનો આતંક આઠ ગાયોને ફાડી ખાધી
- લોકોમાં ભયનો માહોલ સર્જાયો

ધારી ગીરપુર્વના જીરા ગામે બુધવારની વહેલી સવારે સાત ડાલામથ્થા સાવજો ગામમાં ઘુસી આવ્યાં હતાં અને ભારે આતંક મચાવ્યો હતો. ગામમાં રખડતી આઠ ગાયોને આ સાવજોએ ફાડી ખાધી હતી. ગામમાં એકસાથે સાત સાવજો ઘુસી આવતા લોકો થરથરી ઉઠ્યાં હતાં.

ગીરકાંઠાના ગામોમાં અવારનવાર જંગલમાંથી સિંહ તેમજ દીપડાઓ ઘુસી આવીને દુધાળા પશુઓના મારણ કરે છે. આ ઉપરાંત માનવ પરના હુમલાની ઘટનાઓ પણ વધી રહી છે ત્યારે બુધવારની સવારે એક્સાથે સાત સાવજો બચ્ચા સાથે જીરા ગામમાં આવી ચડ્યા હતા અને શેરીઓમાં લટાર મારી હતી.

આ સાત સાવજોએ ગામમાં આઠ ગાયોને ફાડી ખાધી હતી અને મિજબાની માણી હતી. ગામમાં સાત સાવજો આવી ચડતા ગામલોકો થરથરી ઉઠ્યાં હતાં. ગામની આઠ ગાયોને શિકાર બનાવતા ખેડુતો ફફડી ઉઠ્યાં હતાં. આ બનાવની જાણ થતા વનવિભાગના આરએફઓ એ.વી.ઠાકર સહિતનો સ્ટાફ ઘટનાસ્થળે દોડી ગયો હતો અને મારણને જંગલમાં મુકી દેવાની કાર્યવાહી તેમજ ગાયોના માલિકની શોધખોળ આદરી હતી.

- વધુ એક ગાયનું મારણ

હજુ તો બુધવારની સવારે જ સાત ડાલામથ્થા સાવજોએ આઠ ગાયના મારણ કરતા લોકોમાં ફફડાટ ફેલાયો હતો. ત્યાં આજે સવારના સુમારે પણ વલ્લભભાઇ ગેડીયાની ગાયનું સિંહે મારણ કરતા તેઓએ વનવિભાગને જાણ કરી હોવાનું જાણવા મળેલ છે.

Lioness attacks youth at lions Rampara

Lioness  attacks youth at lions Rampara

રાજુલાના રામપરાની સીમમાં આહિ‌ર યુવાન પર સિંહણનો હુમલો

બચ્ચા નાસી જતા સિંહણે પણ ઘાયલ યુવાનને પડતો મુકી ચાલતી પકડી

રાજુલા તાલુકાના રામપરા ગામે એક આહિ‌ર યુવાન સીમમાં ઢોર ચરાવતો હતો ત્યારે બે બચ્ચા સાથે આવી ચડેલી એક સિંહણે આ યુવાન પર હુમલો કરી તેને ઘાયલ કરી દીધો હતો. જો કે બચ્ચા ભાગી જતા આ સિંહણ પણ યુવાનને મુકીને નાસી ગઇ હતી. જેના કારણે યુવાન બચી ગયો હતો.

અમરેલી જિલ્લામાં રેવન્યુ વિસ્તારમાં સીમમાં માલઢોર ચરાવતા માલધારીઓ સાવજોના હુમલાનો ભોગ બની રહ્યાં છે. અમરેલી જિલ્લામાં સાવજોની સંખ્યા સતત વધતી જતી હોય આ સાવજો દ્રારા માણસ પરના હુમલાની ઘટનાઓ પણ વધતી જાય છે. આવી જ એક ઘટના રાજુલા તાલુકાના રામપરા ગામે બની છે.

રામપરા ગામનો નકા બાઘાભાઇ વાઘ (ઉ.વ.૨૨) નામનો આહિ‌ર યુવાન ગઇકાલે સીમમાં પોતાના માલઢોર ચરાવવા ગયો હતો. આ સમયે બે બચ્ચા સાથે એક સિંહણ ત્યાં આવી ચડી હતી. અને સીધો જ આ યુવાન પર હુમલો કરી તેને ઘાયલ કરી દીધો હતો.

આ યુવાને દેકારો કરતા સીમમાં કામ કરતા બે યુવાનો તેને બચાવવા દોડ્યા હતા. જો કે દેકારો થતા સિંહણના બંને બચ્ચા નાસી ગયા હતા. જેને પગલે આ સિંહણ પણ યુવકને છોડીને નાસી ગઇ હતી. ઘાયલ યુવકને સારવાર માટે રાજુલાના સરકારી દવાખાને ખસેડવામાં આવ્યો હતો. આ વિસ્તારના ધારાસભ્ય હિ‌રાભાઇ સોલંકી રાજુલા હોસ્પિટલ દોડી ગયા હતા. ગામલોકોએ તેમને પાંજરૂ મુકી સિંહણને પકડવા રજુઆત કરી હતી.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Condition of lion cub improves

Condition of lion cub improves
Times of India

Two weeks ago, when Asiatic lioness Gowri refused to feed her day-old cub, the Mysore zoo authorities panicked. They consulted experts, decided to hand rear it and managed to rescue it from the jaws of death.

The cub, which is now 17 days old, has responded to the special treatment rising hopes of the authorities that they can pull it off. The zoo staff, who lost the three tiger cubs of Kaveri, are taking special care to save Gowri's cub. A vet has been assigned to monitor the cub, attend to its needs, moderate temperature at its holding room in the zoo hospital and the ward is sanitized.

The zoo received two Asiatic lions Gowri and Shankara a year ago from the Sakkarbaug Zoo in Gujarat. Gowri gave birth to the cub in July end, but within a day, she refused to take care of her litter. After consulting with their counterparts at Sakkarbaug zoo, the zoo vets removed the cub from her mother and started hand rearing it. "This is first time that an Asiatic lion has sired in the zoo and we were particular that we should save it," Zoo Authority of Karnataka chairperson M Nanjundaswamy told TOI. 

The cub is being fed with cow milk and its intake has increased. The cub will continue to be hand-reared for the next three months.

Shankara is six years old, while Gowri is a year younger to him. The zoo staff banked on the expert advice from Gujarat zoo as they had similar challenge some years ago and also because the vets there have extensive knowledge after having worked in Gir national park, he said.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

People attack on leopard

People attack on leopard
Divya Bhaskar

હુમલો કરનાર દીપડાને લોકોએ પતાવી દીધો 

- ન્યપ્રાણી અને માણસો વચ્ચે ટકકરની વધતી ઘટનાઓ: વનવિભાગનો સ્ટાફ દોડી ગયો

ખાંભા તાલુકાના દલડી ગામે આજે સવારે મુસ્લિમ આધેડ કુદરતી હાજતે ગયા હતા ત્યારે એક દીપડાએ તેમના પર હુમલો કરી ઘાયલ કરી દીધા હતા. મુસ્લિમ આધેડને બચાવવા ગયેલા તેમના ભાઇ પર પણ દપિડાએ હુમલો કરી ઘાયલ કરી દીધા હતા. બાદમાં ઉશ્કેરાયેલા ગામલોકોએ દપિડાને પતાવી દીધો હતો.

દલડી ગામે મુસ્લિમ શખ્સોને દીપડાના હુમલામાં ઇજા પહોંચી હતી. જ્યારે સામાપક્ષે દીપડાએ જીવ ગુમાવવો પડયો હતો. ખાંભાના દલડી ગામના હાજીભાઇ અભરામભાઇ નાયા (ઉ.વ.૪૮) આજે સવારે છ વાગ્યે ગામની સીમમાં કુદરતી હાજતે ગયા હતા ત્યારે દીપડાએ તેમના પર હુમલો કર્યો હતો. ઘરથી થોડે દુર દપિડાના આ હુમલાના પગલે તેમણે દેકારો કરતા તેમના ભાઇ મહંમદભાઇ નાયા પણ ત્યાં દોડી આવતા દીપડાએ તેમના પર પણ હુમલો કર્યો હતો.

એક્સાથે બે વ્યક્તિ પર દીપડાના હુમલાના પગલે ગામમાં દેકારો બોલી ગયો હતો. અને ગામલોકો ત્યાં એકઠા થઇ ગયા હતા. અહી ગામલોકોએ મોકો મળતા જ દીપડાના રામ રમાડી દીધા હતા. ઇજાગ્રસ્ત હાજીભાઇ ગીર નેચર યુથ ક્લબના સભ્ય છે. ક્લબના પ્રમુખ ભીખુભાઇ બાટાવાળા પણ ખાંભા દવાખાને દોડી ગયા હતા. સ્થાનિક આરએફઓ પરડવા સહિતના અધિકારીઓ સ્ટાફ સાથે દલડી દોડી ગયા હતા. દપિડા પર હુમલો કરી તેને કોણે મારી નાખ્યો તે અંગે સાંજ સુધી વનવિભાગ સ્પષ્ટ ન હતું.

- દીપડાને કોણે માર્યો વનવિભાગ અવઢવમાં

દલડીમાં દપિડાના રામ રમાડી દેવાયા બાદ આ દીપડાને કોણે માર્યો તે અંગે વનવિભાગ મોડીસાંજ સુધી અવઢવમાં જોવા મળતુ હતું. વનવિભાગે અનેક ગામ લોકોની પુછપરછ કરી હતી આમ છતા દપિડા પર હુમલો કરનારા વિશે કોઇ જાણકારી મળી ન હતી. આરએફઓ પરડવાએ જણાવ્યું હતું કે આ અંગે હજુ તપાસ ચાલુ છે.

- પી.એમ. રિપોર્ટ માથામાં ઘા ફટકારી પતાવી દીધો

આ ચકચારી ઘટના બાદ ધારીના પશુચિકિત્સક રીતેશ વામજા અને જેસરના ડૉ.નયન પટેલની પેનલ દ્વારા દીપડાના મૃતદેહનું પી.એમ. કરાયું હતું. જેમાં દીપડાને માથામાં લાકડી જેવા પદાર્થથી માર મારી પતાવી દીધી હોવાનું ખુલ્યું હતું.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

'Poaching threat to Gujarat lions in Madhya Pradesh'

'Poaching threat to Gujarat lions in Madhya Pradesh'
Times of India

The Gujarat government has reiterated it stand that some of Gir's lions can't be shifted to Madhya Pradesh because of rampant poaching in the neighbouring state. In the written submissions to the Supreme Court on Thursday after the final arguments were completed, the Modi government has said Madhya Pradesh has been unable to protect the tigers from poaching in Kanha and asked if it can be trusted with the safety of Gujarat's pride.

At the root of the fraternal fight between two BJP-ruled states is wildlife experts' concern that the concentration of the Asiatic lions in Gir at one site makes them vulnerable to extinction by epidemic of the kind that has been the cause of decimation of several other species. The Shivraj Singh Chauhan government reacted to the fear by offering to take the lions to MP's Kuno National Park that had been prepared to host tigers.

While the offer may have been motivated simply by the desire to boost MP's tourism potential, the Gujarat government sees it as a potential threat to its unique branding around the world as the sole sanctuary of the Asiatic lions in wild.

"At the time when Madhya Pradesh was filing affidavits in this court supporting direction for translocation, the tiger population in Madhya Pradesh was being decimated. Tigers were being poached regularly and the Madhya Pradesh forest officers and wild life staff were grossly negligent in protecting tigers," the Gujarat government has told the Supreme Court which is seized of a petition seeking safety of lions.

In an affidavit filed by Modi government's counsel, Hemantika Wahi, Gujarat has cited the finding of a special investigation team (SIT) report in 2009 to say "MP has no institutional capacity to protect existing tiger population which was being poached at several locations."

"The tiger population at Panna in Madhya Pradesh was around 25 in 2002. In seven years, the tiger population at Panna in April 2009 was 'zero'," the Gujarat government said as it sought to impress upon the Supreme Court that safety of the species must be considered paramount before implementing translocation project.

In Gujarat, the lions have been thriving - their population has risen from 180 in 1974 to 411 in 2010. The area of Gir's protected habitat has also expanded from 1,412 square km in 1974 to 10,500 square kilometers in 2010, argued the Gujarat government.

While "deplorable track record of MP" in protecting tigers as its chief objection, the Narendra Modi government has objected to MP's proposal by arguing that comprehensive scientific studies have not been carried on to assess whether Kuno can be the alternative location. It has called for a detailed assessment with the regard to availability of prey, suitability of conditions and other scientific and technical aspects ought to be carried out before the final call is taken.

It said the SIT report of 2009 recorded a finding that the maximum decline in the tiger population occurred between 2003 and 2005 which continued till 2008 and quoted section 12 of the Wild Life Act, which mandated that translocation may be done to "an alternative suitable habitat".

The Gujarat government said, "The notion of suitable habitat in the context of big cats includes a safe habitat where big cats are not poached. Given the recent record of the state of Madhya Pradesh were poaching has been rampant, no mandatory directions for translocation ought to be passed until a satisfactory track record over a number of years is proved by Madhya Pradesh."

"The facts on record establish the deplorable track record of Madhya Pradesh and it is too early to gauge whether there has been a systemic improvement and institutional change that would ensure the protection of big cats in Madhya Pradesh," the Modi government said.

It said the "self-certification" of the Chauhan government that "all is well" in its protected areas was insufficient basis for the Supreme Court to decide whether there had been real improvement in protection given to big cats in the wild from poaching.

Scotching apprehensions of those advocating translocation on the ground of wiping out of the lion population because of some unforeseen disease if they were kept concentrated in one area, the Modi government said world's leading international wildlife body - International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - had termed the Asiatic lion population as healthy.

"IUCN has noted that the current population of the Asiatic lions though vulnerable is 'a large, healthy population, and a recent population and habitat viability analysis workshop in India (Walker 1994) predicted 0 per cent chance of extinction over the next 100 years, based on their population model'," it said.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Courting the king

Courting the king
Deccan herald

Conservationists have hailed the Supreme Court's recent judgement favouring translocation of native Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Rajasthan. Because the lion population at Gir is more than the sanctuary's carrying capacity, it strays out in search of its own home range and creates trouble in other areas. The lion population is also vulnerable due to its homogenous gene pool, observes Arefa Tehsin

The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the last remaining home of the Asiatic lion and has throngs of tourists, all trying to catching a glimpse of the lion. Till 1850, the Asiatic lion population extended from Iran till the Indian subcontinent.

The lion found a place in mythology, historic emblems and tales from Iranian to Indian civilisations and kingdoms, from ancient times. By the beginning of the 20th century, the lion had already vanished from many parts of India. The last lion reported from Iran was in 1930.

The Asiatic lion was wiped away from its entire range, except the Junagarh forests of Gujarat. The far-sightedness of the Junagarh Nawab saved them from extinction. He requested the British Governor General to ban the hunting of lions quoting their numbers much less than actual figures. British officers were prohibited from hunting lions.

Much has changed since then and much remains the same – among them is Sinh Sadan. Made into a forest rest house, Sinh Sadan, with its beautiful cottages and gardens, celebrates its centenary this year. Tourists and guides line up early each morning in the guest house compound, which has a small but good information centre.

A limited number of safari permits are given for eight routes inside the sanctuary. Trackers, well-versed with the forest, start before the advent of tourists to locate the movement of lions. They inform guides about the presence of lions on different routes and early tourists are generally graced by a retreating lion or pride. The ones who come later can only catch the lions resting during the day.

Of the many tribal villages inside the forest, there is one that belongs to Africans who were brought here by the Nawab of Junagarh. Don't be surprised if you find an African in a tracker's uniform, speaking in Gujarati and walking behind a lion named Maulana.
The sanctuary management, especially the involvement of tribals based inside the forest, is commendable.

The well-protected and increasing number of lions (presently 411, which is more than its carrying capacity) wander outside the sanctuary in search of their own home ranges and create trouble in other areas.

If a natural disaster or an epidemic like canine distemper strikes, there is little hope for these last remaining Asiatic kings. The Wildlife Institute of India has found that the lion population of Gir, which has risen from a very small base, is additionally vulnerable due to its homogenous gene pool.

Though the efforts of the Gujarat government are admired and the point well-understood that the lion is their USP, for long-time conservation, it is required to build alternative homes for the lion.

The Bio-diversity Conservation Trust of India has fought a gruelling battle with the Gujarat government in this connection. Conservationists across India have hailed the Supreme Court's recent judgement to put on hold the African Cheetah re-introduction programme in Kuno, Madhya Pradesh, in favour of translocating native Asiatic lions from Gujarat.

Moving to Kumbhalgarh

The judgement has given hope to wildlife conservator Raza H Tehsin's proposal to the government of Rajasthan in April 2009 to introduce the Asiatic lion in Kumbhalgarh, a historical site which was recently declared National Park.

The Kumbhalgarh fort was built in the 15th century by Maharana Kumbha. The strong high wall of the fort is 36-km long, the second largest in the world after the Great Wall of China.

The wide enclosure of Kumbhalgarh Fort is lying vacant, except for the entrance, which has the chief structures of archaeological value – the fort and the main temple.
The rest of it is only a high parapet wall with a small human habitation, which will need to be relocated since it has been declared a national park.

The old wall can be repaired and a small wall can be constructed a few 100 meters from the entrance to separate the archaeological monuments from the enclosure. Once this is done there will be a 12-sq-km-wide enclosed area where the Asiatic lion can be preserved in semi-wild conditions. The wall will ensure that it is not able to leave the protected area.

Water holes can be made within this enclosure and ungulates already found in the national park released here. Once they are settled and their population increases, a pride of lions can be introduced. To ensure proper food to the lions, some buffaloes can also be released.

Boost for tourism

Lion safaris organised there will make the project self-sustaining and provide employment opportunities to the locals. Kumbhalgarh is located near Udaipur, the 'City of Lakes' and many tourists visit the fort. The lion safari will provide an additional attraction, thereby increasing tourists and revenues.

Once the Forest Department repairs and maintains the wall, it will lead to greater care of the archaeological site, which has suffered due to Archaeological Survey of India's lack of resources. The enclosure will ensure less human interference and reduce thefts of idols from the temples.

After testing it for some time, the Asiatic lion can be introduced in wild conditions inside the sanctuary, where it will not have competition with the tiger for food, like the forests of Madhya Pradesh.

The fort is located at a height of 3,500 feet but lions are found in Africa at 5,000 feet and above as well. Reintroducing lions in Kuno is an excellent initiative.

But our knowledge of wild Asiatic lion is limited. Lions were released before in the forest of the then Central Province and United Province (now Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh). Most of them didn't survive, and those who did, became man-eaters and had to be killed.  

It is evident that the high walls of Kumbhalgarh and the wide enclosed area are safe, cost-effective and an entirely workable proposition for the conservation of the Asiatic lion.
Learning lessons from history and making use of the initiative of BCTI, we should develop more homes for the last remaining gene pool of this majestic being. Today, the king of the forest sadly has to depend on mankind, the un-benevolent dictators of the planet, for its survival.

Monday, August 06, 2012

World's last Asiatic lions may suffer under tight grip of Indian state that saved them

World's last Asiatic lions may suffer under tight grip of Indian state that saved them

Ambar, an Asiatic lion, snarls in his open enclosure at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad. India's Gujarat state government in 2010 reported that some 411 Asiatic lions were sighted in the Gir forest - the only place the species is found in the wild - from 359 in the last census conducted in 2005.
Photograph by: Sam Panthaky , Getty Images

A peacock shrieks. A monkey scrambles higher into the fire-colored canopy of a kesudo tree. And an Asiatic lion — one of the last few hundred in the wild — pads across the dusty earth of a west Indian sanctuary that is its only refuge from the modern world.

Within the guarded confines of this dry forest in Gujarat state, the lions have been rescued from near-extinction. A century ago, fewer than 50 remained. Today more than 400 fill the park and sometimes wander into surrounding villages and farmland.

But the lions' precarious return is in jeopardy. Experts warn their growing numbers could be their undoing. Crowded together, they are more vulnerable to disease and natural disaster. There is little new territory for young males to claim, increasing chances for inbreeding, territorial conflict or males killing the young.

Conservationists agree these lions need a second home fast, and far from Gir. Government-backed experts in the 1990s settled on a rugged and hilly sanctuary called Kuno, where lions historically roamed with tigers in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh. Millions were spent preparing the park. But Gujarat rejected the plan. And no lions were sent.

Now, the uncertain fate of the Asiatic lions — once dominant in forests from Morocco and Greece across the Middle East to eastern India — rests in the hands of bureaucrats, and the case has reached the Supreme Court.

"We are the only ones who have lions. We have managed without interference until now," Gujarat's environment secretary, S.K. Nanda, said proudly from behind an enormous desk in an office complex decorated with lion posters reading: "Gujarat's pride; World's envy."

"Can we humans be arbiters of where these lions should live? Should we move the mountains and the rivers, too?" Nanda said. "If the lions want to move, let them move on their own."

The subject of saving lions is an emotional one in India. The lion also holds iconic status in religions and cultures. The multi-armed Hindu warrior goddess Durga is traditionally shown with a lion as her mount. Four lions make the national emblem — symbolizing power, courage, pride and confidence. Even the common Sikh name "Singh," shared by the current prime minister, means "lion" in several languages.

The Asiatic lions, a subspecies, are nearly as large as their African cousins, though the males' manes are less fluffy and their tails have larger tufts.

By the 20th century, they had nearly been wiped out by trophy hunters. The last Asiatic lion outside Gujarat was gunned down in Iran in 1942.

Within India, hundreds of thousands of lions, tigers, leopards and wolves were killed over decades of frenzied hunting, encouraged by British colonials. Three years after independence, the country's Asiatic cheetahs were extinct.

But the lions in Gujarat got a reprieve. A princely ruler banned hunting of the few dozen lions left in 1901.

The state created Gir Sanctuary over more than 1,400 square kilometres (540 square miles), relocating all but a few hundred buffalo herdsmen who lived peaceably with the predators, mainly by giving them wide berth.

The sanctuary became a model in conservation, with constant patrols against poachers and cultivated grasslands for the lions' prey: spotted deer and blue-hued antelope. A veterinary hospital was built. The lions thrived.

Tourists from India's newly minted middle class now flock to the park, riding open-topped jeeps to see lions lazing under trees or teaching their butterfly-chasing young to stalk small prey.

A few dozen trackers keep count of the animals and fill artificial water holes.

"Not everyone gets a job like this," said Raju Vajadiya, idly swinging a stick, the only defence he and his colleagues usually have or need. "It is a godly thing to give a lion water on a hot day."

Protecting the lions has been popular with locals, who consider the predators docile when not harassed. Farmers welcome them in their fields. Newly married couples visit them for good luck. Families break park rules to picnic by Gir's streams, unaware or unconcerned that they are water sources for the big cats.

"The lion is like a god to us," peanut farmer Sadik Hasein Chotiyara said. "If the lion attacks, it's because that person made a mistake."

At the same time, locals in general are more open to sharing the lions with other states than Gujarat's leaders are.

Gujarat officials insist lion attacks on humans don't happen. Nonsense, say scientists and residents.

Research indicates confrontations are increasing, as the growing cat population has pushed one in four lions into new mini-sanctuaries they get to by riverbeds that snake through farms and villages.

Droughts that kill prey can make matters worse. After a drought in the 1980s, there were 120 lion confrontations in 1989-91 killing 21 people — five taken as lion food, said biologist Ravi Chellam.

Most of the estimated 15 lion attacks each year happen outside the park, where people are less lion-savvy, scientists say. In April, a lion killed a 35-year-old man who was reportedly pelting it with stones.

Gujarat's conservation laurels now teeter on its next move. Experts say Gujarati officials can best show their devotion to the lions by letting some go. The lions urgently need a second sanctuary, they say — one outside Gujarat to ensure genetic diversification and protection from disease or natural disaster.

Evidence suggests the gene pool is dangerously shallow, meaning a disease that affects one Gir lion could quickly affect many. Tanzania's Serengeti National Park saw a third of its 3,000 lions wiped out in 1994 by canine distemper, likely brought by tourists' dogs. Decades earlier, Tanzania's Ngorogoro Crater lions were decimated when rains spawned swarms of blood-sucking flies that left the cats with festering sores.

But Gujarat denies any need to move lions from the state. It dismisses the idea that disease or calamity could pose a threat.

To give the lions more space, Gujarat recently opened a small second sanctuary on its coast. Conservationists say the two populations are still too close together.

To address gene pool concerns, Gujarat is breeding them in a zoo, but conservationists say it's ridiculous to think those could be a substitute for lions raised in the wild.

"From a scientific perspective, this is the worst thing they could do. If they really cared about the species' survival, they would want this second home," said conservation biologist William Laurance, of Australia's James Cook University.

The central government and Madhya Pradesh state have already prepared the second lion home in Kuno, relocating villages and hiring specialists to build up a prey base for the cats. In 2006, an ecologist on the project filed a lawsuit challenging how such a plan could be enacted but no lions ever sent.

The Supreme Court is now deliberating on the messy dispute and could — if it wants — resolve it within weeks.

"India risks becoming a champion of extinction," said Faiyaz Khusdar, the ecologist who filed the lawsuit. "People would never forgive us if we lose these beautiful cats."

Gujarat also doubts that other states will keep lions safe. And here, they echo global concern.

Environmentalists increasingly question India's commitment to its endangered wildlife, including half the world's remaining tigers, its only black tigers, and more than half the world's Asiatic elephants and one-horned rhinoceroses.

As the country heaves with 1.2 billion people, it has quickly industrialized its countryside, destroying most of its forests along with wetlands and mangrove stands.

More than 40 animal and plant species have gone extinct in a half-century and 134 more are critically endangered. Poaching and poisoning are rampant, despite a 1972 law criminalizing such killings. A recent study in the journal Biological Conservation counted 114 species being poached, including elephants and rhinos for their tusks, and tigers for body parts used in Chinese medicine.

Many sanctuaries have been powerless to stop the killings. There are not enough rangers, and some may take bribes. Some exasperated states like Maharashtra and Assam have told rangers they can shoot poachers on sight.

While Gujarat's lions have been spared the worst, they still face the same threats. The International Union for Conservation of Nature changed their status to "endangered" from "critically endangered" based on their numbers in 2008, but noted they were still falling to hunters and poison traps and drowning in village wells.

Statistics are difficult to find, but a reported 34 of Gujarat's lions were poached in 2007. Another 10 were hunted in 2009 by criminals who passed the cat bones off as tiger parts. Tigers also came under attack that year, disappearing from two sanctuaries in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

"They are not able to conserve their own wildlife. How can they protect ours?" said R.L. Meena, a Gujarat district wildlife warden.

He insisted the state would defy any court order not in its favour. "They will not take our lions."

Conservationists say dangers outside Gujarat are an argument for better wildlife protection nationwide, but not an excuse for resisting the Kuno lion home in Madhya Pradesh.

"Gujarat is fiercely proud of the lions, and rightfully so," said biologist Luke Hunter of Panthera conservation group based in New York. "You would think they'd want to take the next logical step in conservation and establish other populations."

Some accuse Gujarat of using its hold on the lions as a tourism draw. Gujarat fires the same allegation at states willing to take lions in.

The central government supports moving lions to Kuno, but notes that Indian wildlife laws leave decisions to the 28 states. "We will not interfere," environment secretary Tishya Chatterjee said.

But New Delhi has intervened to protect wildlife before. It launched a nationwide tiger-protection project in the 1970s. In a situation similar to the lions, it ordered the northeastern state of Assam to contribute rhinos for a second population to boost that gene pool in faraway Uttar Pradesh state.

Environmentalists say the need for the central government to protect species is not declining but rising as India's population and economy soar.

"Conservation in India is not about managing animals anymore," said Divyabhanusinh Chavda of the World Wildlife Fund in India.

"It's about managing people."

Eco-sensitive zones to now shield Asiatic lions in Gujarat

Eco-sensitive zones to now shield Asiatic lions in Gujarat
The Pioneer

The home of the world's last population of Asiatic lions in the wild, Girnar Forests in Gujrat will now be surrounded by eco-sensitive zone. The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has also declared the setting up of similar zones around the wildlife sanctuaries of Purna in Dangs, Narayan Sarovar in Kutch and Vansda National Park in Valsad. Mining, industrialisation and tourism activities here will also have to be regulated.

As per the MoEF notification issued recently, Girnar eco-sensitive zone will occupy an area of 9,318 hectares covering a span of five-km radius around the sanctuary that covers 27 villages. The area will have development that would henceforth be regulated through a zonal master plan expected to come up within two years.

The eco-sensitive zone around the Purna wildlife sanctuary will have an area of 25,036 ha covering a two-km radius, that also includes 61 villages. Purna has above 3,000 species of plants and animals..

The notification further states that the zone around Narayan Sarovar wildlife sanctuary will occupy 22,588 ha, of which about 60% is non-forest land. It will stretch up to 2.5 kilometers throughout the sanctuary's periphery, covering 28 villages.

The sources pointing to the  specialty of  Narayan Sarovar  said it falls under "a separate biotic province of the country" and thereby has a distinct gene pool, that include grasslands in arid regions, mangrove forests along the coastal stretches and wetlands.

Vansda National Park that once took pride in flaunting tigers today takes pride in bird species that are typical to the Western Ghats are . The area also abounds in various kinds of medicinal shrubs and herbs with orchids, litchens and ferns.It also hosts nine mammalian species and some rodent species, as well as reptiles and amphibians. The eco-sensitive zone in the National Park will spread over five kms of its total periphery and covering about 13 villages.

Gir to have second safari centre at Chikhalkoba

Gir to have second safari centre at Chikhalkoba
Daily Bhaskar

In an attempt to reduce the tourist burden on Sasan, and to tap the rise in visitors to the Gir Sanctuary, the forest department is planning to develop a tourist centre at Chikhalkoba, in Tulsishyam range. The range also has a sizeable number of lions.

The centre will host jeep safaris similar to the one being hosted at Sasan right now. Interestingly, the idea is also to tap the tourists, who often club together visit to places like Diu, Somnath, and Gir and for whom Sasan may prove to be too far.

"We are planning to come up with an orientation centre and will later have cottages and reception centre as well similar to the one at Sasan. With the new centre, tourists can take gypsy rides to Raval dam from where they can choose either to go on the Tulsishyam route or the Rajasthali route," said principal secretary, forest and environment, SK Nanda.

At present, safari to take tourists into the heart of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is only available at Sasan. These safaris take tourists to the forest area in the Sasan range alone. With the new centre, tourists will be able to explore forests in the Tulsishyam range as well. Tourists are allowed only to pass through the area and stop at the Tulsishyam temple right now. Nanda also said that given the rise in the number tourists to Gir, it was important that a new route be developed.

The plan is likely to materialise within a year or two. "On an average, around 1,000 people visit the sanctuary daily during the season. It was necessary to ensure that the rise in tourists did not end up disturbing the lions of a particular range. Moreover, with the further rise in tourists, there will be a rise in pollution level by way of dust and noise," said Nanda. With the setting up of a new centre, the forest department envisages to provide a livelihood to the locals living in the area. "With a new centre, locals in and around the Tulsishyam range in which Chikhalkoba falls, will get better employment opportunities," said Nanda.

Dosti dissolves distance in the wild

Dosti dissolves distance in the wild Times of India

For the wild animals,friendships are born out a need to survive.During the safaris at Gir,one often notices a group of monkeys near a herd of herbivorous.These close friends warn the herd in case of a leopard or lion attack.

Officials said that these two animals share a unique friendship.Monkeys throw fruits and leaves on the ground for the herbivorous animals to feast upon.
Deputy conservator of forest Sandeep Kumar says that during the time of summer the friendship is for food,while in the monsoon it is for the safety of the herbivorous animals.During summers,the peacock also becomes friendly with monkeys and herbivores.

He said these friendships are symbiotic relations born out of compulsion.A fortnight ago,a peacock and fowl was seen moving together as the fowl was isolated from its herd.It was found that the peacock on the tree would warn him in case of danger.In another incident during April-May,when peacocks are establishing their territory and dance to attract the peahens,the monkey comes to their rescue incase a leopard,lion or wolf closes in.Usually it becomes difficult for the peacock to close its feather quickly while dancing and a timely warning by monkey saves him.

King needs buddies too

King needs buddies too
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

The King of the Jungle does not usually associate easily with a lion from another pride.There is animosity between two subadults group,but in Dhari region two sub-adult lions have become the subject of interest among beat guards as they are generally joined at hip.

The two do not only move together but also make a kill together on several occasions.Hasmukh Patel,a resident of Dhari says,These two are always spotted moving together.First we thought them to be brothers.But later the beat guard on duty told us that they are from different prides.

One sub-adult belongs to Gir group while the other subadult is from Khamba.The two were forced to leave their homes.But since they were isolated,they teamed up and have now become best friends.

The beat guard,recalling an incident,said that a fortnight back,one of the lions went to hunt a neelgai.But the animal proved to be stronger than him so he had to move back.Sensing trouble the other sub-adult too jumped on the neelgai.With support from his friend,the two finally succeeded in hunting it down.Their kill lasted for nearly two days.

The two are setting up their new territory and are now attracting young females from the nearby areas.Soon the two would be having their own,new territory, the guard further said.The two are seen going to the ponds and resting in the fields,close to each other.

Deputy conservator of forest,Sandeep Kumar said that such incident of males from different groups getting together is out of compulsion.Sandeep came across an incident where two brothers captured the largest territory in Gir,and made friends with the old lion who was in that territory.Such friendship is more common among females, he said.

Sub-adult lions from different prides have become friends in Gir

Lioness attacks shepherd atPatla village near Dhari

Lioness attacks shepherd at Patla village near Dhari
Divya Bhaskar By Dilip Raval

ધારીનાં પાતળા ગામની સીમમાં ભરવાડ યુવક પર સિંહણનો હુમલો

-ઢોર ચરાવતા માલધારી પર સિંહણનાં હુમલાથી લોકોમાં ફફડાટ

ગીરપુર્વ જંગલ વિસ્તાર નજીક આવેલા ગામડાઓમાં અવારનવાર વન્યપ્રાણીઓ દ્રારા માણસ પરના હુમલાની ઘટનાઓ વધતી જાય છે. હજુ તો ગઇકાલે સાંજે જ પાતળા ગામની સીમમાં એક માલધારી યુવક પર સિંહે હુમલો કર્યો હતો. ત્યારે ગતરાત્રીના પણ આ જ વિસ્તારમાં ઘેટાબકરા ચરાવતા એક ભરવાડ યુવક પર સિંહણે હુમલો કરી ઘાયલ કરી દેતા આ વિસ્તારના લોકોમાં ફફડાટ ફેલાયો છે.

ધારી તાલુકાના પાતળા ગામ જંગલ વિસ્તારની તદ્દન નજીક આવેલ ગામ હોય અવારનવાર સિંહ તેમજ દિપડાઓ અહી આવી ચડે છે. અને દુધાળા પશુઓ તેમજ માણસ પર હુમલો કરી દે છે. હજુ તો ગઇકાલે સાંજે સાડા છએક વાગ્યાના સુમારે ગોબર બાઘાભાઇ મેવાડા (ઉ.વ.૩૦) નામના માલધારી યુવક માલઢોર ચરાવી રહ્યો હતો. ત્યારે સિંહે તેના પર હુમલો કરી ઘાયલ કરી દીધો હતો.

ગતરાત્રીના એકાદ વાગ્યાના સુમારે બોઘાભાઇ દુદાભાઇ ભરવાડ નામનો યુવાન ઘેટા બકરા રાખીને ખુલ્લા મેદાનમાં સુતો હોય ત્યારે અચાનક એક સિંહણ ત્યાં ચડી આવી હતી. અને ઘેટાનું મારણ કરવા જતા તેને ભગાડવાની કોશિશ કરતા સિંહણે બોઘાભાઇ પર હુમલો કરી દેતા તેને હાથના ભાગે ઇજાઓ પહોંચી હતી.

આ બારામાં વનવિભાગને જાણ કરવામાં આવતા એસીએફ એમ.એમ.મુનીની સુચનાથી આરએફઓ પરડવા સહિત સ્ટાફ ઘટના સ્થળે દોડી ગયો હતો. યુવાનને સારવાર માટે અમરેલી દવાખાને ખસેડવામાં આવ્યો હતો.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

MoEF declares eco-sensitive zones in 4 state sanctuaries

MoEF declares eco-sensitive zones in 4 state sanctuaries
The Indian Expres

The 9,318 hectares of Girnar eco-sensitive zone will occupy a five-km radius that covers 27 villages in Bhesan and Junagadh talukas.

Development inside Girnar buffer area to be regulated through zonal master plan

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has declared eco-sensitive zones around the wildlife sanctuaries of Girnar in Junagadh, Purna in Dangs, Narayan Sarovar in Kutch and Vansda National Park in Valsad where mining, industrialisation and tourism activities will be restricted.

The 9,318 hectares of Girnar eco-sensitive zone will occupy a five-km radius that covers 27 villages in Bhesan and Junagadh talukas. Development there is to be regulated through a zonal master plan that is expected to be ready in two years.

Besides being home to the world's last wild population of Asiatic lions, the sanctuary hosts plant and animal biodiversity besides being a catchment area for rivers Sonrakh, Gudajali and Loi. The eco-sensitive zone is expected to preserve this status.

The 25,036 ha zone around the Purna wildlife sanctuary will cover a two-km radius, including 61 villages. Purna hosts almost 3,300 species of trees, herbs, shrubs, climbers, mammals, reptiles, insects and birds.

According to the notification issued this week, the zone around Narayan Sarovar wildlife sanctuary will cover 28 villages in three talukas and occupy 22,588 ha, 62% of which would be non-forest land. It will stretch up to 2.5 kilometers throughout the sanctuary's periphery.

Narayan Sarovar falls under "a separate biotic province of the country" and therefore hosts a distinct gene pool, including grasslands in arid regions, mangrove forests along the coastal stretches and wetlands.

The sanctuary is also home to several rare and threatened species, including chinkara, caracal, wolf, leopard, spiny-tailed lizard, desert cat, the great Indian bustard, lesser florican and the houbara bustard. It also hosts rich mineral deposits, including limestone, lignite, bentonite and bauxite.

The notification said that the Vansda eco-sensitive zone will spread over five kms of the national park's total periphery and cover up to 13 villages.

While tigers once roamed Vansda, it currently hosts nine mammalian species and some rodent species, as well as reptiles and amphibians. Bird species typical of the Western Ghats are found there, as are various kinds of medicinal shrubs and herbs with orchids, litchens and ferns.

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