Wednesday, February 28, 2018

4 lionesses check into Junagadh GIDC

4 lionesses check into Junagadh GIDC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 26, 2018

Forest department to start wildlife awareness drive

Forest department to start wildlife awareness drive

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 22, 2018

PIL filed against night stays at Kankai temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Video shows trucker chasing lions in Gujarat forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Video: Video shows trucker chasing lions in Gujarat forest

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Forest dept's apathy towards injured lions irks Gujarat villagers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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