Thursday, October 25, 2018

Death of another lioness in Gujarat's Gir forest brings toll to 14; seven injured lions rescued


Death of another lioness in Gujarat's Gir forest brings toll to 14; seven injured lions rescued


Gandhinagar: The Gujarat Forest Department on Wednesday recovered one more carcass of a lioness from the Gir forests, the only abode of the Asiatic Lion, taking the total death toll of the beast to 14 in as many days, even as seven more lions were rescued.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) AK Saxena said a lioness was found dead on Wednesday in the Dalkhania range of the sanctuary. The forest department also received the molecular virology report of the samples collected from two lion cubs found earlier, from the Junagadh Veterinary College.

"The samples ruled out the possibility of Canine Distemper (CD) infection in the cubs," Saxena stated in a press release. According to the press release, the forest department screened 1,740 square km of the Gir protected area and adjoining areas. It found 460 lions, out of which seven hurt lions have been rescued.

The forest officials also rescued three lions and lionesses each and a cub from the Dalkhania and Jasadhar ranges from where the 14 deaths were reported and placed them in Sarasia Virdi of the protected area.

"All the rescued seven lions are in good health now. They are under observation and they will be analyzed for their health", states the release. The forest officials have also rescued a lion with superficial wounds found in the revenue area of Bhavnagar and brought to the rescue centre.

Alarmed by the climbing death toll of the big cats, the Gujarat Forest Department has set up 64 teams to screen the vast forest area of Gir to identify sick and weak lions and move them to rescue centres.

Meanwhile, a Central government team of wildlife experts also flew in to Gujarat to find out the reasons for the sudden deaths in such a short span. As many as 11 carcasses of lions were found from the protected Gir sanctuary between September 11 and 19, of which two carcasses were found from the Jasadhar range while the rest in Dalkhania range.

According to the claims of Gujarat forest officials, the lions were killed in territorial war and infighting. Later, the officials added that besides infighting, some of the big cats died due to infection.

Gujarat's Additional Chief Secretary for Environment and Forests Rajiv Gupta said viscera samples of the dead animals have been sent to Pune-based National Institute of Virology.

Once the institute's report arrives, further course of action would be decided, he said, and added that 64 teams comprising more than 270 personnel had been deployed in the forests. According to the latest census in 2015, the Gir forest region has 523 lions, 109 of which were male and 201 female, besides 140 cubs and 73 sub-adults.

There were 411 beasts in the 2010 survey and 359 in the 2005 census. The state government has, in a written reply in the state assembly, has accepted the instances of unnatural deaths of lions in Gujarat. According to the figures provided, during the last two years, 184 lions have died in Gir, of which 32 were unnatural deaths.

Gujarat's Asiatic Lions can become the pride of the world if Gir Sanctuary is declared a UNESCO natural World Heritage Site


Gujarat's Asiatic Lions can become the pride of the world if Gir Sanctuary is declared a UNESCO natural World Heritage Site


Are Asiatic Lions of Gir a matter of pride only for Gujarat? In fact, the sanctuary can become UNESCO's natural World Heritage Site as it is the only home to Asiatic Lions in the world.

The only effort made to get UNESCO recognition was made in 1992 by then Janata Dal (Gujarat) Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel. However, the application was not upheld by the world body and since then no efforts have been made in this direction.

The benchmark to get global recognition lies very much in Ahmedabad, which got inscribed as India's first World Heritage City by UNESCO on July 8, 2017. Even wildlife experts say that Gir Sanctuary can qualify for the coveted tag provided proper documentation-cum-application is made. If it's successful, then lion conservation efforts can get a major boost.

According to UNESCO, World Heritage sites are selected based on six cultural and four natural criteria. One of the "natural" criterion is: "to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation."

The other criterion says, "to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land use, or sea-use which is representative of culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change."

India already has seven natural sites which have got UNESCO recognition: Great Himalayan National Park (2014), Western Ghats (2012), Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (1988) and adjoining Valley of Flowers (2005), Sundarbans (1987), Kaziranga National Park (1985), Keoladeo National Park (1985) and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985).

The Gir Sanctuary exemplifies conservation of threatened species and harmonious existence of locals with unique natural environment.

Retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) A K Sharma told Mirror, "If Manas and Kaziranga can get the natural heritage site tag then so can Gir Sanctuary which houses endangered species Asiatic Lion. I am not sure whether efforts are afoot to apply to the world body. However, if Gir gets the tag then it will give big boost to conservation of lions."

What the Forest Minister says

When asked why the successive BJP governments have not made any efforts to get UNESCO tag for Gir, Minister of State for Forest Ramanlal Patkar sidestepped the question and said, "The Prime Minister takes keen interest in issues pertaining to Gir. We are preparing a report to be sent to his office. The report will include suggestions made towards conservation of lions since 2001."

First and last application made in 1992

An application was made to UNESCO and the matter pursued between 1990 and 1992. Back then Chimanbhai Patel's Janata Dal (Gujarat) had formed the government, first in alliance with the BJP and later with the Congress.

Then forest minister Mohansinh Rathwa, while recalling the application made during his tenure, told Mirror, "We made great efforts to save lions back then and get global recognition. People were attached towards this magnificent animal. So much grant has come since then, but the current government does not seem be serious enough. If they were serious about conservation, then so many lion deaths would not have taken place."

What the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest says

Confirming that no effort has been made to file an application with UNESCO, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest G K Sinha told Mirror, "We have never applied. But, we are working on it. We are taking inputs from other departments about how Ahmedabad made it to the UNESCO list. We are understanding the process of application and will soon make it happen."

Relief among Gujarat forest officials: Samples of two dead lion cubs test negative for canine distemper virus


Relief among Gujarat forest officials: Samples of two dead lion cubs test negative for canine distemper virus


IN A HUGE relief to the state Forest Department, samples of two Asiatic lion cubs, which had died early this month, tested negative for the feared canine distemper virus even as forest teams completed scanning exercise in 1,740 square kilometres of forest and non-forested areas in Gir looking for any sick lion, which may be in need of medical treatment, on Wednesday.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest G K Sinha, who also heads the forest force, on Wednesday said laboratory tests have confirmed that two of the six lion cubs which had died early this week did no did due to canine distemper virus (CDV) infection.

"Samples drawn from two lion cubs were tested at a veterinary college in Junagadh by deploying molecular virology method. Test reports have come negative for canine distemper (virus)," the PCCF said in an official release.

Forest officers said that negative results for CDV was a "huge relief".

CDV can infect lions and a host of other animals. A CDV outbreak in Tanzania in Africa had caused deaths of hundreds of lions in 1990s. Alarm bells had started ringing on September 20 when it came to light that 11 lions had died the previous week in Sarasiya Vidi area in Dalkhaniya range of Gir (east) forest.

Six cubs, three lionesses and two male lions were among those which had died within the short span of time. However, forest officers had said that the deaths were prima facie a result of a fight between male lions over control of its territory.

The PCCF had said that six of the three cubs had died due to injuries sustained in the infighting while the rest had died due to some infection. Veterinarians had drawn samples of blood and serum of the cubs, which had died due to suspected illness, and sent to the Junagadh lab. Some samples have also been sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune.

After the 11 deaths from a small patch of Gir forest, the Forest Department had launched an extensive scanning drive on Sunday to locate sick lions and give them medical treatment, if required. The department had formed teams of foresters, forester guards and lion trackers to scour all the 16 ranges in which the lion habitat has been divided and scan each and every lion. During the exercise, teams spotted two lionesses and a cub which died later on, taking the number of deaths in Sarasiya Vidi to 14 in two weeks. While two deaths were reported on Monday, one lioness reportedly died on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the PCCF said that the teams had already scanned 1,740 square kilometres (sqkm) of lion habitat by Tuesday. "This includes 1,045 sqkm of Gir protected area and 695 area outside of Gir protected area. During the exercise, 460 lions have been spotted and out of them, only seven were found to have minor injuries. The remaining 453 were found to be in good health," Sinha said.

Among the areas, which has been scanned by 164 teams include Gir National Park and Sanctuary divided in Gir (east) and Gir (west) divisions and adjacent areas.

The release further said that seven lions had been rescued from Sarasiya Vidi, including three male lions, three male lionesses and a cub. "All the seven animals rescued from Sarasiya Vidi are prima facie in good health. They will be kept under observation and their health will be checked," it added.

The lion census of 2015 had pegged the population of the big cats in Gir at 523.

Sinha said that two lions found with minor injuries in Gir National Park and Sanctuary and adjoining areas during the exercise were given treatment on the spot. The release stated that one lion with minor injuries and found in Bhavnagar had been shifted to a rescue centre for its medical treatment.

Officers said that the scouring of remaining forest area will continue until the entire lion landscape is covered and each and every lion has been scanned.

Committee Set Up to Relocate Gir Lions in 6 Months Has Met Only 6 Times in 5 Years: RTI


Committee Set Up to Relocate Gir Lions in 6 Months Has Met Only 6 Times in 5 Years: RTI


New Delhi: The expert committee that had been set up in April 2013 by the Supreme Court to ensure that lions are shifted from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh has only met six times since then.

This is, as per an RTI filed by Delhi-based advocate Gaurav Bansal. In its response, the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest said, "So far six meetings of the Expert Committee have been convened to discuss upon various issues pertaining to translocation of Asiatic lion from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary to Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh."

The Expert Committee had also visited Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary to "overview the preparations of Madhya Pradesh forest department"

The committee was set up by the Ministry after orders from the apex court on April 15 2013. A six-month deadline was set for shifting the Asiatic lions. The delay resulted in a contempt petition, which was discharged in March 2018 after the MoEF assured the court that it would expedite the project.

During this period, the relocation of the lions has been underscored by objections raised repeatedly by the Gujarat government and bureaucratic delays by the MoEF and the Madhya Pradesh government.

For instance, Gujarat insisted on completing over 30 studies as per the relocation guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) before releasing the lions. These are recommended by the IUCN but are not mandatory.

"Everyone the committee, barring the representatives from Gujarat argued that some of these studies could take place while the relocation took place. But the Gujarat government didn't budge," said a member.

The RTI response added, "After intense discussions in various meetings a detailed Action Plan for the reintroduction of the Asiatic lions in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary Madhya Pradesh have been prepared and is under process of finalization."

Did The Failure To Set Up A 'Second Home' For In Madhya Pradesh Cause Lion Deaths In Gir?


Did The Failure To Set Up A 'Second Home' For In Madhya Pradesh Cause Lion Deaths In Gir?

India Times News

Five years ago, the Supreme Court had ordered the shifting of some lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, where a second home was to be set so that the species is saved from extinction, due to catastrophes like epidemic etc.

But, the order dated April 15, 2013, never got implemented as Gujarat government refused to transfer 40 lions to the Palpur Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in MP citing various reasons.

The order gains significance in the wake of the recent mass deaths of lions in Gujarat where 23 big cats have died at Gir Sanctuary since September 12. According to reports, some of the deaths were caused by canine distemper virus (CDV).

The virus, which can spread from dogs in the wild, killed around 1,000 lions in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park.

Lion population in Gir was estimated to be at 523 lions, including 109 male, 201 female, 73 sub-adults and 140 cubs in 2015 census. It is since estimated to have gone up to nearly 600.

With nearly one-third of them living outside the core, which makes them susceptible to viruses relocating at least some of the lion population becomes crucial for the species.

Following the recent lion deaths, Gujarat government has announced the setting up of two safari parks, one in Ahmedabad and in Narmada district to accommodate the growing population of big cats.

"One such park would come up near the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's upcoming 'Statue of Unity' near Rajpipla town of Narmada district and another one near Ahmedabad," Minister of State for Forest Raman Patkar said at Vapi in Valsad district.

In addition, people residing near Barda mountain in the eastern side of the Gir Sanctuary will be relocated elsewhere in a bid to provide a permanent habitat to lions, said the minister.

Meanwhile, in Madhya Pradesh, some locals staged a protest at Sheopur, demanding that some of the lions be shifted to Palpur-Kuno.

'Kuno Abhyaranya me Sher Lao Sangharsh Samiti' (Committee for agitation to bring lions to Kuno sanctuary), led by its chief and Congress leader Atul Chouhan, organized a protest.

"In the last ten years, 100 crores spent to develop Kuno-Palpur as a second home for Asiatic lions. 25 villages were rehabilitated, affecting 10,000 families. But the Gujarat government has not given a single lion to Kuno- Palpur sanctuary," Mr Chouhan told PTI.

"The Vijay's Rupani government had admitted (in Gujarat Assembly) that in the last two years 184 lions died in Gir due to infighting, contagious infections, floods and railway accidents, among other reasons," Chouhan added.


Gir lion deaths: Lots of questions, but few answers


Gir lion deaths: Lots of questions, but few answers


Instead of leaving the park and its animals open to challenges, it's best to look for new homes for the Asiatic Lions. Historically speaking, lions were found in what is modern day Haryana, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. These areas could be ideal for another Gir-type park.

The Wildlife Week celebrations began across the country on Monday. In the same week, it has emerged that within a month, 23 Asiatic lions (at the time of going to press) have died at Gujarat's Gir Forest National Park, which is home to all the world's remaining 525 Asiastic lions. When the first deaths were reported between September 10 and 21, forest officials said it was because of "infighting" (competition for territorial supremacy) between the prides. Since then, another 10 have perished. Now, there is speculation that there is evidence of a "viral infection" in some blood and tissue samples. Some reports have even said canine distemper virus (CDV) has been found in four samples.

Experts say the Gir lions have always been susceptible to a variety of viruses because they share territory with the tribal herdsmen community called Maldharis, their cattle and other domestic animals such as dogs. These deaths, they say, could have been avoided if a long-term epidemiological communicable disease study had been put in place at least 10 years ago to understand the disease load of the different prides. Moreover, animals don't die because of just a virus attack but because of low immunity. There is high chance that lions in Gir have low immunity because of inter-breeding that has been taking place for centuries.

The deaths of lions have also reignited a debate that started in 1993 over the relocation of lions. At a workshop in Vadodara on the issue that year, it was decided that a few prides of lions would be shifted to other park(s) in the country that are geographically and historically suitable for the animals. This could take care of two requirements: ensure enough territory and prey base for prides of lions; and expand their genetic pool. The first for food, and the second to avoid a "genetic bottleneck," which makes the immune systems of animals weak. The Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary was chosen for relocation of prides.

However, the other view is that the virus attack and the deaths of lions and relocation are two different things because all populations of lions have to be taken care of. Moreover, Kuno may be ready with its prey base but the lions of Gir are more used to large, easily available animals such as cattle than other fast-moving wild animals, and that unlike Maldharis, who are economically stronger (and so can absorb losses), the poor population around Kuno may not take to cattle killing very kindly.

But before any final decision is taken, it is very important to make public the exact reasons behind the deaths. Only when there is enough scientific knowledge, the problems dogging Gir can be rectified.

Will Madhya Pradesh CM dare to call on Narendra Modi for 'Gir Lions'


Will Madhya Pradesh CM dare to call on Narendra Modi for 'Gir Lions'

The Times Of India

BHOPAL: Gujarat lions is an issue which Shivraj Singh Chouhan always remained silent in 15 years of his chief ministership.

Now that 23 of Gir lions have succumbed to deadly CDV & babesiosis infection outbreak in Gir, wildlife officials want Chouhan to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rescue these magnificent species by shifting them from Gujarat to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

While MP had won the eight-year-long legal battle with Gujarat in 2013, the latter had been dilly-delaying compliance.

"There is no delay on our part. We are ready. Its centre to decide about when and how to translocate the lions," said Shahbaz Ahmad, chief wildlife warden of MP.

A recent meeting between the MP government and its Gujarat counterparts at Bhopal over translocation of Gir lions to Kuno Palpur sanctuary remained inconclusive. Chief wildlife warden of Gujarat forest department Akshay Saxena who was present in the meeting held at state's wildlife headquarters went away asking more time to examine the 'action plan'. This despite, wildlife Institute of India (WII)- Dehradun's recommendation that Kuno is ready for translocation of lions and has ample prey base.

Questions are also being raised as to why Madhya Pradesh government has never filed contempt against the Gujarat government for not complying with the Supreme Court's order on shifting lions.

Miffed by the court order on its Gir lions, Gujarat had been asking a string of questions regarding MP's suitability to house the big cats for the past years. Among other things, they said that both weather and scarcity of prey in Kuno sanctuary would pose a problem. MP officials claim with an increase in prey base, Kuno has become the most suitable place for shifting Gir lions.

"I don't understand why MP government is not taking strong step in this regard. What we always feared has happened. The only purpose of making an alternative habitat for lions was to save them from disastrous virus attacks. We have lost 23, timely action can save the species. I will move court against the government," says Ajay Dubey, wildlife activist who had filed a contempt petition in the court on the matter.

"Instead of discussing the matter in a closed room, Shivraj Singh Chouhan should dare to discuss this matter with Narendra Modi now. Its high time," he added.

Gujarat lions: Will Madhya Pradesh CM dare to call on Narendra Modi for 'Gir Lions' | India News - Times of India 

Shift Gir lions to Palpur-Kuno sanctuary in MP, local people demand


Shift Gir lions to Palpur-Kuno sanctuary in MP, local people demand

The Tribune

Sheopur (MP), October 4

Following reports of deaths of lions in Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat, local people staged a protest at Sheopur in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding that some of the big cats be shifted to Palpur-Kuno Sanctuary and saved from extinction.

'Kuno Abhyaranya me Sher Lao Sangharsh Samiti' (Committee for agitation to bring lions to Kuno sanctuary), led by its chief and Congress leader Atul Chouhan, held a protest here.

As per the Gujarat forest department, 23 lions have died at Gir Sanctuary since September 12. At least 11 of them have succumbed to a virus infection, officials have said.

Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in MP's Sheopur district is considered a part of the same Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests eco-region.

The protest at Sheopur featured donkeys carrying banners which read "Sher de do, hame le lo" (Take us (donkeys) in exchange for lions) and "Gir ke Sheron-ko virus se bachao, Kuno pahunchao" (Protect Gir lions from virus, sent them to Kuno.)

"In the last ten years, Rs 100 crore was spent to develop Kuno-Palpur as a second home for Asiatic lions. 25 villages were rehabilitated, affecting 10,000 families. But the Gujarat Government has not given a single lion to Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary," Chouhan told PTI over phone.

When the BJP is ruling at the Centre as well as in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, why it was finding it difficult to shift some of the lions from Gir to Kuno-Palpur as the animals are facing the threat of extinction, he asked.

Even the Supreme Court had given its nod for transfer of lions to Madhya Pradesh, he claimed.

"The Vijay's Rupani government had admitted (in Gujarat Assembly) that in the last two years 184 lions died in Gir due to infighting, contagious infections, floods and railway accidents, among other reasons," Chouhan said.

If some of the lions are not shifted to Palpur-Kuno, protesters will not allow the scheduled opening of the gates of the sanctuary for visitors on October 16, he said. — PTI

23 Deaths in 20 Days: How Gujarat's 'Misplaced Pride' is Killing Its Lions


23 Deaths in 20 Days: How Gujarat's 'Misplaced Pride' is Killing Its Lions


New Delhi: Twenty three lions have died in Gir in Gujarat in the last 20 days, while three more are battling for their lives. But these were deaths foretold and with red flags raised as early as the 1950s, conservationists argue that Gujarat's misplaced pride is killing its lions.

The three surviving lions, forest department officials confirmed, are also suffering from the same deadly outbreak of the canine distemper virus (CDV) and tick-borne babesiosis in the Dalkhaniya range.

Of the 21 deaths - four died of CDV, while the 17 were killed by the tick-borne infection that is usually found in canines and cattle in the wild.

The forest department had initially claimed that the lions died due to infighting and not disease. While Dushyant Vasavda, Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), could not be reached for comment, MoEF officials said that the deaths were avoidable.

"It is a question of genetic diversity. When you have a species which is bottle-necked, then they become more susceptible to disease. The risks to population also include catastrophes like a forest fire or an extreme weather event," explained an official of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), who did not wish to be named.

It was on the basis of this rationale that in April 15, 2013, the Supreme Court had directed the MoEF to "take urgent steps for the reintroduction of the Asiatic lion from Gir forests to Kuno" Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh asking authorities to carry out the order in its "letter and spirit" within six months. That order is yet to be complied with and officials of the Madhya Pradesh forest department maintained that Gujarat's unwillingness to part with the lions remained the key stumbling block.

Ajay Dubey, a wildlife activist from Madhya Pradesh, has filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court demanding action for non-compliance.

Trapped in the 1,621 square kilometer area in Gir, the lions are now cramped for space and susceptible to disease.

"A person doesn't get life insurance because they think that they are going to die. It is a question of being prepared. This is similar. It is an internationally accepted scientific protocol that is aimed at the long-term conservation of an endangered species - a species, whose survival is actually a success story for Gujarat. It is now about managing and enduring this success," said Ravi Chellam, conservation scientist.

The warnings

In the 1950s, biologists pointed out that a single population of the species faced threats of epidemics, natural disasters and human hazards. Over half a century later, the warnings have come back to haunt Gujarat.

In September 2011, the Centre for Animal Disease Research and Diagnosis (CADRAD), Bangalore, and Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Uttarakhand, analysed tissues from a 2007 Gir lion carcass. They found the presence of highly contagious peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) - the same species of morbillivirus as the CDV. The PPRV is highly contagious and carries an 80-100% chance of mortality.

This was, as per the researchers, the first report of detection and partial genetic characterisation of PPRV isolated from Asiatic lion tissues. The study had warned, "Greater emphasis should be placed on continuous serological and clinical surveillance of PPR in wild ruminants to better understand the prevalence of PPRV, its impact on wildlife conservation, and the possible roles of different species in PPRV transmission."

Meanwhile, the devastating link between the CDV and potential epidemics has been known since 1994, when within the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of East Africa nearly a third of the lion population died or disappeared. Analysis found the CDV was closely related to the domestic dog in South Africa. The same pattern is being repeated in Gujarat today, with the forest department confirming the spread of the CDV from dogs to the lions.

Gujarat's objections

After early attempts at reintroducing lions outside Gujarat failed, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) began studying the species and its habitat from 1986. In 1990, the WII proposed the creation of a second wild population of Asiatic lions to safeguard the species against potential calamities in Gujarat's Gir National Park. It favoured shifting of about 40 lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh's Palpur Kuno sanctuary.

But while a total of 24 villages, comprising 1,545 families were relocated from Kuno and crores were spent to assess the viability of the habitat. Gujarat, however, remained steadfast in its opposition of the relocation. Mangubhai Patel, former forest minister in 2004 refused to part with 19 animals for an initial relocation plan and said, "There is no need to shift lions from Gir. We will ensure their survival here."

This set the tone for the Gujarat government's objections which were eventually overruled by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Now over five years later, as the lion carcasses pile up, the plan still remains only on paper.

Gujarat had contended that the translocation of the lions couldn't take place because of insufficient prey densis. But the apex court order had cited various surveys conducted by the WII and the Madhya Pradesh government that had found the prey density to be better than at Gir.

The most recent objection by the Gujarat government was to increase the land area of the sanctuary - which has now been done. The Madhya Pradesh forest department's Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) of the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department confirmed that the sanctuary was now over 700 sq kilometer.

"Two wildlife sanctuaries have been notified and the state has increased the size of Kuno-Palpur from 350 sq km to over 700 sq km," explained an official.

For now, there is no word from the Gujarat government. The three remaining lions of the now decimated pride continue their battle for survival.


Gujarat: Carcasses of 11 lions found in Gir forest


Gujarat: Carcasses of 11 lions found in Gir forest


New Delhi: Carcasses of 11 dead lions was found in Gujarat's Gir forest on Thursday. The state government has ordered an enquiry into the unexplained deaths. The carcases of the animals were found on Thursday from Gir (East) division from Dalkhaniya range over the last few days.

"We have found carcasses of 11 lions from Gir forest range," said Deputy Conservator of forest (east) P Purushothama. Initially, one carcass was found in a forest near Amreli district's Rajula on Wednesday, and another three were found on the same day in Dalkhniya range area, a senior official told the news agency PTI. Seven other carcasses were found in the last few days.

"We have collected viscera samples of the dead animals and sent them to Junagadh Veterinary Hospital and are waiting for the postmortem report," the forest official said.

Another forest official Dr Rajiv Kumar Gupta said an inquiry will be conducted by the principal chief conservator of forest at the state level. "Primary information shows that eight deaths have occurred due to infighting. For the rest three, postmortem reports are awaited, Gupta told PTI.

PCCF wildlife A K Saxena said most of the deaths are due to "infighting" and subsequent injuries.

The resultant injuries of the infighting affected cubs and females. It's a trend which is being noticed over a period of three to four years, Saxena said.

Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani said a probe must be conducted to find out if the deaths occurred due to electrocution, poisoning and poaching.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

All big cats died naturally: Guj forest dept


All big cats died naturally: Guj forest dept

The pioneer

Amid lots of hue and cry over the deaths of 11 lions in the Gir Forest — the last abode of Asiatic Lions situated in western Gujarat, the State forest department claimed that the deaths of big cats were natural and not a single death occurred due to viral infection or other disease.

Many eye-brows have been raised following deaths of lions in Dalkhania and Jashadhar ranges situated in eastern part of Gir Forest. During 12th to 19th September as many as 11 lions died due to infighting and territorial war, confirms GK Sinha, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) and Head of Forest Force in Gujarat.

Reasons including aging, disease, injury, weakness and infighting for capturing territory are considered as natural in the case of lion's death. Hence the State forest department is considering these deaths of Asiatic Lions as natural. Despite the fact, 11 deaths within a span of eight days would be alarming for the state forest department considering that International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica) as endangered due to its small numbers and area of occupancy.

"Basically lion is a territorial animal and stay within its pride. As a result of it whenever the leader of a pride becomes weak, mostly due to aging, strong lions from neighbouring prides try to take his place and attack on the weak lion and his progenies. In such attacks, stronger lion not only kills the weaker one but his cubs also," said the PCCF.

Of the 11 lions died due to territorial war, there were six cubs, two lionesses and three matured lions. As on Friday autopsy reports of eight lions have come and prima facie the experts are of the opinion that all eight big cats died of infighting. Post Mortem reports of remaining three Asiatic Lions are awaited, but mostly the cause of the death likely to be the same.

With a view to curb more deaths of lions due to infighting, the State forest department has shifted five mature lions from Dalkhania and Jashadhar ranges to other places in Gir forest. According to Sinha, deaths of lions due to territorial war were considered as natural phenomena and such incidences are occurring time to time. However, such high death toll within a short span due to infighting was alarming, he adds.

Generally, in one lion's territory up to three lionesses reside and after mating season each lioness would give birth up to four cubs. Gestation period of lioness is around 110 days and in normal circumstances lioness become pregnant after an interval of 20 to 24 months. Of the total newly born lion cubs, only 25 to 30 per cent reach to maturity, while 70 to 75 per cent die due to some or other natural and unnatural reasons. 

As per the last census of Asiatic Lions in the eight districts of Saurashtra region, 523 big cats were reported that including 109 mature male, 201 female, 73 sub-adults and 14o cubs (below one year). On and average every year 210 lion cubs born in Gujarat and of these nearly 140 die by the time they reach up to the age of three years. Hardly 70 of them are surviving and reach to maturity. During the year 2017-18 as many as 69 lions died in Gujarat. Of these 51 died due to natural reasons and 18 due to unnatural reasons including accidents, electrocution and other causes.

Artificial insemination can help breed healthier lions - scientists


Artificial insemination can help breed healthier lions - scientists


A step towards tackling inbreeding is being celebrated by scientists‚ who have successfully used artificial insemination on a lioness in the North West.

The lioness‚ at the Ukutula Conservation Center and Biobank‚ has given birth to two cubs conceived via non-surgical artificial insemination (AI)‚ using fresh semen collected from an adult male lion at the same facility. These are the first lion cubs to be born by means of artificial insemination‚ according to a team of scientists from the University of Pretoria (UP)‚ who are studying the reproductive physiology of the female African lion.

The development of artificial insemination protocols for this species could be used as a baseline for other endangered large wild felids‚ the team said in a statement.

Explaining the need for these protocols‚ the team said: "Although African lions normally breed quite well in captivity‚ the wild population is highly fragmented and suffers progressively from isolation and inbreeding. Indiscriminate killing and prosecution‚ habitat loss and prey depletion‚ epidemic diseases‚ poaching‚ and trophy hunting threaten the extinction of these existing wild populations."

In just two years‚ the African lion population is estimated to have decreased from about 25‚000 (in 2016)‚ to 18‚000 in 2018. A decline of more than 60% has been noted over the last 25 years.

The African lion is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species‚ with the West African lion subpopulation considered critically endangered. The Asiatic lion is also considered endangered in the wild.

According to Dr Isabel Callealta‚ a qualified veterinarian from Spain and PhD candidate at UP‚ the team now has novel data for the African lion's reproduction physiology.

"This‚ together with the success of the AI births of the lion cubs‚ not only celebrates a world first achievement‚ but has laid the foundation for effective non-surgical AI protocols for this species‚ using both fresh and frozen-thawed sperm‚" said Callealta.

According to the researchers‚ the application of these new techniques could provide a faster and broader diversification and distribution of the genetics‚ and a reduction of disease transmission.

The owner of Ukutula‚ Willi Jacobs‚ said: "There can be little doubt that wildlife conservation through education and ethical scientific research is the most suitable‚ long-term solution for our planet's conservation challenges and dwindling wildlife populations."

Kuno Palpur Sanctuary area to be extended by 413 sq km


Kuno Palpur Sanctuary area to be extended by 413 sq km

The Hitavada – The People's Paper

By Ankita Garg,

If the proposal sent by wildlife wing of Forest Department sees the day light then Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary will be preparing to extend its limits. The proposal sent by Wildlife Wing envisages extension of sanctuary by another 413 square kilometres.

This will not only increase the area of Kuno Palpur Sanctuary but will also make it fit to stake claim for national park status as well. Moreover, if its area is increased then it will be also fulfilling the condition of Gujarat government for translocation of its world famous Asiatic Lions.

After extension of its area, Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, which has been developed for translocation of Asiatic Lion, will spread over 1,288 sq km of area. There is proposal to de-notify the 202 sq km area of Karera Wildlife Sanctuary under district Shivpuri and 80 sq km of area of Ghatigaon Sonchidiya Sanctuary under Gwalior.

After de notification of both areas, Government would add them into Kuno Palpur Sanctuary.

Karera Wildlife Sanctuary was established in year 1981 to protect the population of Great Indian Bustard in the area. Now the area is being notified by Government due to protest by the local people and extinction of the Great Indian Bustard bird locally.

"We proposed Government to extend the area of Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary by another 413 sq km and also provide it status of National Park. Sanctuary has been developed for translocation of Asiatic lion project which is pending from over the years," said Alok Kumar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF).

Talking to 'The Hitavada, he said the biggest condition set by Gujarat government was to extend the area of Kuno Palpur sanctuary for translocation of Asiatic Lions and if the area of sanctuary is increased by another 413 sq km then automatically, Gujarat demand would get fulfilled. At present, Kuno Palpur Sanctuary is spread over 345 sq km of area and now proposal has been come up to add another 413 sq km area into it. If sanctuary gets national park status then this 413 km of area will be developed as core area and 530 sq km of additional area will be buffer zone. He said that at present Asiatic lion is only in Gir National Park of Gujarat. In year 1991, proposal came up to translocate few Asiatic Lion in Madhya Pradesh to save the endangered species from extinction.

Madhya Pradesh Government selected Kuno Palpur area for the project and started preparing the jungles of Kuno Palpur Sanctuary. In year 2003, State Government staked claim for translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat by saying that Kuno Palpur sanctuary is ready in this regard. However, Gujarat Government had certain objections over the issue and still issue pertaining to translocation of Asiatic lions which is in doldrums.

He said after getting final nod in Cabinet meeting, proposal will be sent to the Central Forest, Environment and Climate Change Ministry. The proposal will also be presented before National Wildlife Board for final nod.


Monday, October 01, 2018

Gujarat: Lion cub barges into house in Junagadh village, ransacks household goods; injures woman


Gujarat: Lion cub barges into house in Junagadh village, ransacks household goods; injures woman

The Times Of India


RAJKOT: A female lion cub barged into a house in Khambhalia village of Malia Hatina taluka in Junagadh district of Gujarat after killing four cows. The wild cat injured a woman and created the mess inside the house.

Later, the forest team rescued the lioness after hours of struggle.

According to the forest department, the cub, aged two years, barged into the house of Punabhai Nandania around 3am in the morning after killing four cows and injured his wife who has been shifted to Chorvad hospital. The cub also ransacked the house.

Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) Junagadh Sunil Berwal said, "As the lion entered the house, people locked the house from outside and informed the forest department. Our team was already patrolling and immediately rushed to the village. The team tranquilized the wild cat and rescued it."

The lioness was then caged and taken to the Sasan Animal Care Centre. According to forest department, the animal will be released after some treatment.

lion injures woman: Gujarat: Lion cub barges into house in Junagadh village, ransacks household goods; injures woman | Rajkot News - Times of India

Previous Posts