Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Save lion rallies in 1,500 villages likely


Save lion rallies in 1,500 villages likely

The Times Of India

RAJKOT: The wildlife division of Sasan Gir is all set to launch its biggest ever lion awareness campaign on August 10 -World Lion Day -with rallies in over 1,500 village of Gir-Somnath, Junagadh and Amreli. The campaign is tipped to be the biggest for any single wildlife species.


"Plans are afoot to hold rallies involving school children in 1,500 villages in three districts where lions are found in large numbers. The programme is being organized in coordination with various forest department divisions. The idea is to make people, especially , school children aware about the conservation of Asiatic lions," said Ram Ratan Nala, deputy conservator of forests, wildlife division (Sasan Gir).


"We are coordinating with the Cluster Resource Centre (CRC) and Block Resource Centre (BRC) in these districts for the campaign. School children will take out rallies in each of the 1,500 villages simultaneously on August 10 morning. At the end of these rallies, students and villagers will take a pledge to save Gir lions throughout their lives," Nala added.


"Anybody from across the state, who wants to participate in the event, can fill up online forms available on The pledge form is also available online and person from any part of the state can fill up the pledge form and submit it to us," said an official.


According to latest census, there are 523 lions in Saurashtra region.

Lion enters Savarkundla's housing society, kills cow


Lion enters Savarkundla's housing society, kills cow

The Times Of India

RAJKOT: Spotting lions near their town is not a remarkable sight for locals in Savarkundla town of Amreli. But residents of Khodiyar Park Society woke up to shuddering roars of a lion that had preyed upon a cow right in their lane.

At around 2:30am on Monday, a fully grown Asiatic lion ventured into the society on Mahuva Road that has nearly 55 houses, mostly tenaments. The society is located within the Savarkundla municipality limits.

"We heard the noise of cattle and suddenly there was roar of lion too at around 2:30 am. We couldn't believe our eyes on seeing a lion that was feasting on a stray cow right in front of the gate of a house. People were watching from inside their houses when lion was preying," said Viral Rathod, who lives in Khodiyar Park Society.

This was for the first time that lion not only came so close to the human habitat in Savarkundla but also preyed on a cattle. 


After spending nearly an hour-and-a half on the street, the lion finally left the society and went towards the outskirts.


According to forest department sources, there are around 10 lions around Savarkundla that roam in five to 10 km periphery of the town. But this was the first time that the lion entered a residential locality and preyed.


Earlier on July 11, a pride of three lionesses and cubs had ventured nearly 3.5 km inside Junagadh on a four-lane road which falls in ward number 1 of the municipal corporation.


The last count of lions in Saurashtra in May 2015 had put the official figure at 523, though the number is believed to be much higher. Lions are frequently spotted in residential localities in towns of Saurashtra.

Lioness attacks man in Savarkundla town The Times Of India


Lioness attacks man in Savarkundla town

The Times Of India

RAJKOT: The man-lion conflict that was limited to villages on the fringe of Gir sanctuary area has now come to haunt Savarkundla town in Amreli district close to the protected forests, the abode of the endangered Asiatic lion. A 60-year-old shepherd, Madha Vaghela, was attacked by a lioness near Devla gate on Chalala Road on the outskirts of Savarkundla town on Saturday.

Vaghela was attacked by the lioness, accompanied by two sub-adult cubs, when he was walking with his herd of sheep. Forest officials said that Vaghela could never have imagined that he would become victim of lion attack as the area where the incident took place is surrounded by diamond polishing units and farm land which fall under the Savarkundla Municipality limits.


On August 1, a lion had preyed upon a cow in Khodiyar Park society of the town. This second incident of lion attack within the limits of Savakundla town has raised concerns among locals, especially those residing in the fringe areas of the town.


Forest department sources said that around 10 lions have been spotted recently in the periphery of Savarkundla.


Locals had spotted the lioness with her two cubs fleeing after attacking Vaghela. He was rushed to the civil hospital where his condition was said to be critical.


In July, a pride of three lionesses and cubs had ventured nearly 3.5 km inside Junagadh on a four-lane road in ward No. 1 of the municipal corporation. This was the first instance of lions venturing into urban areas. The last count of lions had put the official figure at 523, though the number is believed to be much higher.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

'Immediate' transfer of lions not sought, Dave tells House, official records show otherwise


'Immediate' transfer of lions not sought, Dave tells House, official records show otherwise


Even as environment and forest minister Anil Dave informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that Madhya Pradesh government had not sought 'immediate' transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur sanctuary, official records show exactly the opposite. Earlier in May, Ravi Srivastava, former Principal Chief Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh, wrote to the environment ministry and stated explicitly for immediate execution of the lion translocation project, to implement orders of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had ordered translocation of lions in April 2013 but a petition of the Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot, challenged the order and the matter is currently sub-judice.

Srivastava's letter, addressed to Roy P Thomas, joint director, wildlife, of the environment ministry, had pointed out that floods witnessed in Amreli and Bhavnagar in July 2015 had killed 1600 blue bulls, 90 spotted deers and 10 Asiatic lions. He added that such natural calamities pose a threat to the lion population and thus requested the ministry to, "immediately kick start execution of Hon'ble Supreme Court's order dated 15th April 2013 without any further delay." Dna has accessed a copy of the letter.

Dave, in his reply, flatly denied having received any request for transfer of lions. Dave's fellow Members of Parliament from Madhya Pradesh Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath had posed the question on translocation of lions.

In his reply to the Parliament, Dave had added that the translocation matter is a long-term action and the whole programme encompasses action for over 25 years. "The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has constituted an Expert Committee for planning and implementation of translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir, Gujarat to Kuno, Madhya Pradesh. The group includes representatives of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat," Dave had informed the Parliament.

dna tried to get Srivastava's reaction to Dave's reply but he did not respond to calls or text messages. dna also tried to contact Roy P.Thomas for a comment but could not reach him.

Bhopal based wildlife activist, Ajay Dube, who had sourced the letter under the Right to Information Act, 2005, told dna, "Anil Dave is lying and it is shameful he is doing so even as belongs to Madhya Pradesh. His ministry should follow Supreme Court's decisions. I will inform the Members of Parliament (Scindia and Kamal Nath) about the letter and the false claims made by the minister," Dave said.

Scientists and activists have long pushed for the translocation as Gujarat is the only place where Asiatic lions are found in wild. There are fears in the conservation community that a big natural calamity or epidemic may wipe out the entire population, thus rendering India bereft of the majestic big cats. It is also argued that since their population has crossed the carrying capacity of Gir forests and adjoining regions, translocating them will be helpful.

Gir's lion population is now spilling into neighbouring human settlements, leading to regular conflicts. As per the latest population enumeration carried out in 2015, there are an estimated 523 lions in the Gir forests.

Lions’ abode gets eco zone cover


Lions' abode gets eco zone cover

The Times Of India

Ahmedabad: The ministry of environment, forest and climate change has notified an area up to a maximum radius of 17.9 km from the current boundary of Asiatic lionsanctuaries in Gujarat as Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).

Sources in the department said that the ESZ has been notified in consultation with the Gujarat forest department, and it will ease the movement of lions along the natural corridor.

In view of the sensitive nature of the movement of Asiatic lions, the Gujarat forest department decided to have the maximum - 17.9 km radius from sanctuary boundary as ESZ.

"17.9 kilometres from the boundary of the Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary, 16.3 km from the boundary of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and up to 14.98 km from the Paniya Wildlife Sanctuary of Gujarat, has been notified as Eco-Sensitive Zone," states the notification.

The ESZ has been created along the river flowing in the area. In the case of Nalsarovar and other sanctuaries the department had fixed an ESZ ranging from 2 km to 10 km. But in case of Gir Sanctuary, the area has been extended to a maximum of 17.9 km.


The ESZ notification will put an end to setting up of industries in the area, curb illegal mining and will regulate the haphazard and unregulated construction activity.


CCF Junagadh, AP Singh, said, "The ESZ will not cause any issue for the farmers; they would be able to carry on their activities without any hindrance. However, the ESZ will bring about an end to illegal and commercial mining in the area." An official close to the development said there are 523 lions spread across an area of around 22,000 sq km. He said that the entire area where lions are mostly present will now come under ESZ area. This is because the ESZ range for Mityala, Paniya and Girnar Sanctuaries will also play a part.


The notification, while declaring the ESZ area stated that important corridors for the Asiatic lion include the Paniya Shetrunjay Hill Zone and the banks of the river Shetrunji. It mentioned that the reserve forest as well as protected forest patches act as important corridors, while the hilly undulating forests and grassland from Mitiyala Sanctuary to Hippavadli and Shetrunji Hills are also used by animals as effective corridors. The Gir-Girnar corridor of hilly terrain between Gir and Girnar Pass is also used by lions.


A Supreme Court order, the National Board for Wildlife and the Union government had stated in a policy decision that in general the width of the Eco-Sensitive Zone could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area, or beyond 10 km, where sensitive corridors are present.

Against lion, sisters show real gau raksha


Against lion, sisters show real gau raksha

The Times Of India

AHMEDABAD: A popular poem by Jhaverchand Meghani hails a 14-year-old girl of the Gir forest who protects a calf from a lion, using only a stick and fearlessness. The heroism extolled in the 20th century Gujarati verse, 'Charan Kanya', was displayed on October 9 in real life in Gir when two sisters repulsed a lion attack to save their cows.

Santok Rabari (19) and her younger sister Maiya (18) live in 
Mendhawas, a hamlet in the Gir sanctuary near Tulsishyam in Amreli district. The sanctuary is the only abode of Asiatic lions. Ten years ago, their father Jehabhai suffered a paralytic stroke. Since then, the sisters have been taking their cattle to graze in the forest.


"When a lion approached their herd, Santok and Maiya stepped between the lion and cattle, holding up their sticks and looking squarely into the lion's eyes," said Mansukh Suvagya, the founder of Jal Kranti, an NGO which works for cow welfare and water conservation. "When the lion backtracked, the sisters pressed ahead, forcing the lion to bolt."


Suvagya said he learnt of the girls' courageous stand from beat guards and local residents. "We joined the girls for five days when they took their cattle into the forest," he said. "We noted their confident body language". Santok, a demure girl clad in salwar-kameez, said their understanding of the big cats helped them. "If you show a lion your back, it will attack you. If you stand firm, it will leave you alone," she said.


Though Santok is modest, forest officials testify to her steeliness. "I have personally documented at least five incidents in which Santok has shooed away a lion," said the range forest officer of Liliya, P A Vithlani. The sisters were feted for their bravery on Monday by Jal Kranti.


Wildlife experts say that people who live in Gir have a way with the big cats. "Lions are generally afraid of humans," said Y V Zala, a member of the Wildlife Institute of India. "If not provoked, they will generally backtrack on coming face to face with a human." H S Singh, a lion expert and a member of the National Board for Wildlife, said: "Most local residents grow up with knowledge of lion behaviour."

Online plea for release of 'innocent' lion into the wild


The Times Of India

Online plea for release of 'innocent' lion into the wild

JUNAGADH: A five-year-old lion from Girnar Wildlife Sanctuarywas caged and termed as 'man-eater' after it attacked a woman who died in December last year. However, on Friday wildlife experts and environmentalists have floated an online petition demanding the lion's release back into the wild on the grounds that the postmortem of the 50-year-old woman had concluded that she died of shock and not due to injuries caused by the lion attack.

The woman was attacked near Samatpar village on the fringe of Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary .

Terming the caged lion as `innocent' animal `jailed for no fault' at Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh, the petitioners have demanded release of the wild cat into its natural habi tat Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary .

"This handsome young lion from Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary , a member of male trio pride, is spending life in zoo, just for being a wild (aggressive) lion in natural course. There was no thorough investigation whether the lion was involved in any conflict with humans and there was no proper order passed by forest department with justifiable reasons to keep the wild cat in captivity for life," the petition stated.

"Please show your concern and ask government of Gujarat to release this young lion to his original habitat, where two of his brothers are waiting for him," petition further stated while urging people to sign it. There are over 35 lions in Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary which is spread over 17,827 hectare area in Junagadh.

Response to the petition was such that within hours of being floated, over 80 people signed it online.


Pranav Vaghashiya, a wildlife conservationist from Junagadh, who has signed the online petition said that the post-mortem report of deceased woman concluded that she had died of `shock' and not because of the injuries caused by lion. "Where was the fault of the lion? A lion in wild would react as per its natural instinct when it encounter hu mans or feels threatened," said Vagahashiya.


"It is a known fact, lions never attacked humans unless they are disturbed. Why do lions face `jail' when humans are responsible for the disturbing the wild cats?" asks Ankit Shukla, another petitioner who has signed the petition.


Wildlife experts also believe that caging a lion after attack on humans was not always correct. "We follow the `unwritten' standard operating produce of releasing the lion into wild after observing his behaviour. If publicly announced it will create hue and cry," said senior official of the forest department.

Latest Comment

Animals are very innocent. Human's need to be jailed and the lion should be set free immiededlyJames Manohar


Priyavrat Gadhvi, wildlife conservationist and member of State Wildlife Advisory Board was of the opinion that since the lion has been in captivity for over 10 months, releasing it back into wild will be a difficult. "In captivity the wild cat's behaviour may have changed," he added.


He was of the opinion that instead of caging lion and sending it to zoo, foresters should observe it at least for four weeks in the wild and if they find it unsafe then only it should be sent to zoo.

'Caging lions after attack on humans needs relook'


'Caging lions after attack on humans needs relook'

The Times Of India

RAJKOT: Wildlife experts' have called for re-look into the present policy of forest department of caging lions immediately after incident of lion attack on humans and sending it to Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadhfor rest of its life.

According to sources, four lions were caged for life in last 10 months alone and a pride of 17 lions have been in captivity in proposed Ambardi Interpretation Zone near Dhari for observation since last six months. The incidents of human-lion conflict have increased as lions have expanded their territory in the Gir region.

However, wildlife experts believe that lions are at receiving end despite the fact that that humans are the ones who harass them.


Latest lion census states that there were 523 lions in Saurashtra of which roughly 50% are outside the protected areas, close to human habitats.


"Even the lion (caged from Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary) can also be released using certain protocol wherein you first release it in an open enclosure like place where lion can get pray and hunt. Forest officials can study lion's behaviour there. And only after the behavioural study, forest officers can take a call whether it should be released back into the wild or should be kept in captivity for life," opined wildlife expert V C 


"I would emphasis on setting up Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) after capturing lions following human-lion conflict," said 
Priyavrat Gadhvi, wildlife conservationist and member of State Wildlife Advisory Board.


"When human death occurs after lion attack foresters identify the lion and cage it. Instead of caging lion, they should observe the wild cat at least for four weeks then take final call. SOP should be laid down in this regard," he added. A state forest official said that the SOP will soon be finalised by the government.

Mobiles of trackers, drivers banned inside Gir sanctuary


Mobiles of trackers, drivers banned inside Gir sanctuary

The Times Of India

SASAN (GIR): The forest department has banned the use of mobile phones for guides,trackers and safari drivers on the eight tourists routes in the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary to control the unregulated movements of the vehicles that often disturbed the Asiatic lions in their natural habitat.

Besides managing the tourists in the sanctuary, the decision is also aimed at breaking the flourishing nexus between some trackers and a few Gypsy drivers that used to result in large number of vehicles crowding at the same spot where lions were seen in good numbers.


"No guides, trackers and gypsy drivers are allowed to take mobile phones with them when they enter the sanctuary with tourists. The objective is to manage the tourists' zones in a way that they don't disturb lions in their natural habitats. We have received good response from this new initiative,'' said Ram Ratan Nala, deputy conservator of forests, wildlife division, Sasan-Gir.


Officials said that there were several instances when guides would contact trackers to know the location of lions in tourists' zone and several Gypsys would gather at one spot. This would naturally disturb the lions as they were surrounded by so many vehicles and chances of 
human-lion conflict would be more.


The sanctuary is witnessing an unprecedented influx of tourists. In just seven days from October 30 to November 6, 50,368 tourists visited the Devaliya Interpretation Zone while 6,835 visited the sanctuary. The department is issuing 90 permits daily to visit the sanctuary. There are 20 trackers inside tourists' zone and eight tourist routes in the sanctuary.


"All 150 Gypsy vehicles are now enabled with 
Global Positioning System (GPS) and it provides real-time monitoring of vehicles and its speed. The mobile ban will only strengthen our vigilance. We have ensured that no vehicle should run on more than 20 km per hour and they do not assemble in large numbers at one spot'' Nala added.

First crocodile census in Gir sanctuary today


First crocodile census in Gir sanctuary today

The Times Of India

Rajkot: Around 300 forest officials and volunteers will fan out across the Gir wildlife sanctuary and the peripheral areas in the first ever crocodile census to be conducted by the forest department on Thursday.

The teams will cover a 10km radius around the sanctuary where crocodiles have been seen in sizeable numbers but never officially counted. Though voluntary wildlife organizations in Vadodara and Kheda districts have been conducting census in their respective areas, this is the first official crocodile count by the state forest department.

Mostly, marsh crocodile species is seen in the Gir forest and nearby regions, particularly in the 
Kamleshwar Dam.


The decision to conduct the census was taken during the national seminar on the crocodile and human conflict held last month in Sasan-Gir. During the meet, various methods to reduce crocodile-human conflict were discussed but the forest department did not have figures of crocodiles in the wild.


"The main objective of the crocodile census is to get exact number of this reptile in the forest and nearby regions. This will help tackle the human-crocodile conflict and minimize it," said a senior forest official associated with the census team.


For counting, the entire sanctuary has been divided into 13 zones and 120 sub-zones. The officials will be using direct and indirect sighting methods for counting the reptiles. The counting will be done for three hours in the morning and then three hours in the afternoon when crocodiles usually come out of water to soak themselves in the sun during winter.


Counting will be done in major rivers, rivulets, check dams and ponds in the Gir region.

Locals say ‘no’ to mobile tower near Gir sanctuary


Locals say 'no' to mobile tower near Gir sanctuary

The Times Of India

AHMEDABAD: Agitated at the setting up of a mobile tower on the outskirts of Gir Sancturary, local residents from Sasan are planning to approach the collector and make representations.

The residents have already made a representation before the mamlatdar at Mendarda but failing to get the desired response, they have decided to march to the collectorate in Junagadh to make their representation.

Salim Baloch, a resident who is leading the movement against setting up of the tower, said that the tower is adjacent to the boundary of the sanctuary. The forest department had sanctioned the tower once it had sent a proposal earmarking the
eco-sensitive zone in the area.


According to the eco-sensitive zone notification, no such tower can be set up as it can affect birds in the area. The radiation from the tower will impact the birds. A study has revealed that sparrows in the cities have all but disappeared because of radiation from mobile towers, said Baloch.


Fakirmohammed Noormohammed, another resident of Sasan, said that if a villager wants to increase the floor of his house, the forest department and the panchayat refused permission citing eco-sensitive zone was not cleared, and hence no new permission can be given.


But in this case, all the rules were disregarded. The panchayat and the forest department gave permission to set up the tower on government waste land, he said.


He demanded that the tower should be dismantled immediately or the residents would launch a stir.


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