Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gir's lion numbers rise, may touch 500.

The first round of Asiatic lion census in Gujarat's Gir forest ended on Tuesday and it showed that population of big cats has jumped, touching around 500.

This is an increase of 15-22% in the last five years. The officials involved in the census said that the number of sightings of the lions was very encouraging, adding that their population outside the Gir sanctuary had risen substantially.
According to forest department officials, it was encouraging to see the increase in the number of cubs in the age group of 0-3. They were sighted in good numbers and this was a sign of healthy conservation. The officials said that in the sanctuary area, including the core area of Gir National Park, the count remained constant.
"This was because the sanctuary was saturated and had more lions than its carrying capacity. According to a study, the carrying capacity of sanctuary and the national park was around 250 lions and cubs but around 290 lions were estimated to be there in Junagadh and Sasan Gir Sanctuary," said an official.
Sources claimed that big cats were sighted more in the area of Amreli, Bhavnagar and even coastal areas and it is expected that their population would be higher in these areas.

Why is mining allowed in eco-sensitive zone, HC asks govt.

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Tuesday asked the state government why it permits mining activity in an eco-sensitive zone around the Gir sanctuary.

A bench headed by Justice Jayant Patel said that if the villages of Kekraj, Sanwada, Lavki and Bheswadi on the banks of Shetrunji River near Liliya in Amreli district fall in the eco-sensitive zone near the Gir sanctuary, the government must not grant mining permission. The court made it comments after a map presented by the state forest department showed the area in the eco-sensitive zone.

The government later claimed that the map appeared to be flawed and it would come up with another map on Wednesday.
The map of this area was prepared to respond to a PIL that alleged that due to mining activities and lighting of fires by labourers, wildlife was being harmed. Around 35 to 40 lions have made this area their home, but they are disturbed due to the fires on the banks of the river. The PIL also said that this is the proposed eco-sensitive zone and measures should be taken to protect wildlife.

High Court shuts down 67 sandmining units in Gir sanctuary.

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 
Last Updated at 23:07 IST

The Gujarat High Court today ordered shutting down of 67 sandmining activities units which continued to operate without renewing their leases in the Gir Sanctuary which is the only abode of Asiatic lions.

A two-judge bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Jayant Patel and Justice G B Shah, passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL).

The order came after the Gujarat forest department submitted that the 67 units would not be given 'No Objection Certificates (NOC)' to mine on the banks of the Shetrunji river in the Gir Sanctuary area.

Lease periods of all 67 units ended in 2014 and their proposals to extend their leases were pending before the state government.

The High Court acted in response to a PIL filed by a Surat city-based citizen Rajkumar Sutaria who alleged that illegal mining in the area threatened the lives of wild animals like Asiatic lions, bears, hyneas and golden jackals.

"Though the Gir Asiatic lion sanctuary is protected as an eco-sensitive zone where no construction or development activities can take place in a radius of 10 km, mining in the Shetrunji river has been going on, threatening the existence of wildlife," the petition alleged.

Gir eco-tourism: Govt forms 8-member panel.

Actions were taken on the HC directions issued during the hearing of a PIL that was taken up suo motu in response to an anonymous letter opposing the proposal of a new eco-tourism zone in south-east of Gir sanctuary, Chikhalkuba in Dhari division. The court took up the issue of encroachment around the existing eco-tourism zone and began reviewing the situation there.

The issue of contradictions in the forest department resolution of June 25, 2009 and the home department resolution of February 8, 2010 also came up. While the forest department permits hospitality units built before a particular date to exist in the buffer zone, the home department issued a prohibitory order. However, the owners of hospitality units obtained NOC from local village panchayats and put up constructions. The eight-member committee is tasked to remove these contradictions from the policy by considering all aspects, including the legality of permissions granted by village panchayats.

Lions census begins, 2700 out to track wild cats in Gir Sanctuary, Gujarat.

Map Guj Nat Parks Sanctuary.png
Distribution of lions in India: The Gir Forest, in Gujarat, is the last natural range of about 400 wild Asiatic lions. There are plans to reintroduce some lions to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. (
After a five-year gap, India has kicked off enumeration of lions in Gir Sanctuary of Gujarat, the last habitat for the endangered big cats.
The census will reveal whether there is any growth or decline in the number of lions from the last recorded 411 in 2010. In 2005, there were only 359 lions in the sanctuary. Officials hope to find more numbers this time, in the range of 500.
The four-day census operation is being conducted in 5 districts of Gujarat and enumerators, mostly volunteers and forest officials, are spreading over the sanctuary to count the wild cat, whose number is declining alarmingly around the world. This time, “the lions which have migrated outside the sanctuary will also be counted,” said principal chief conservator of forests C. N. Pandey.
The enumeration methodology is a combination of direct sightings, photographs and corraborate with the GPS tracking to avoid double counting, said officials.
About 2300 forest department employees have been deployed, said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest AC Pant. The census of lions has been in vogue since since 1936 and the current one is the 14th in series. From 287 recorded in 1936, the number has gone up to 411 in 2010 and it is expected to have gone up this time.
Officials said the lions are spread over in an are of 16,000 sq km and the current census will be carried out in 22,000 sq km area, covering  8 regions, 21 zones and 106 sub-zones and 625 census units, under the supervision of senior forest officials.
In zones, DCF-rank officers are overseeing the operation in which 625 pelple have joined since Friday. The census will go on till Wednesday. For the first time, 150 women are participating in the enumeration process.  Also, 18 medical teams are on stand by, besides a control room and computer lab.
With the GSP location of lion, this time a map is being prepared to pin point the exact location of lions. Recently, India conducted census for tigers too.

As jungle sheds its leaves, lion census to start in Gir today.

Most of the trees in Kali Chhipardi area of Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary have shed their leaves. (Source: Express Photo by Javed Raja)
lion census, gujarat wildlife, GNPWS, DCF, wildlfie, lion wildlife, ahmedabad news, city news, local news, Gujarat news, Indian Express

River Hiran still has life while other streams have run dry.

Written by Gopal B Kateshiya | Sasan Gir | Published on:May 2, 2015 12:55 am
Gir, abandoned studies after Class XII and started working as a guide two years ago.
Nagesh Ratadiya, a safari driver, said it would be an opportunity to see parts of forests usually not accessible to the public. “I don’t know much about wildlife but I am interested in it. So, I am pretty excited about the census, hoping I will be selected for some role in it,” Ratadiya, a history graduate said.
For Shekh and Ratadiya, it will be their first-ever experience of census. But enthusiasm is not any less among those who have been part of previous exercises. “I have seen much of around 250 square kilometre tourism zone as I have been driving gypsy for the last 12 years. But I am still excited about the census as this can give me an opportunity to explore new parts of lion territory. It was a unique experience when we finally managed to track down a lioness on the sea cost of Una during 2010 census after two days of efforts. I hope I am assigned some new area this time,” said Imtyaz Bloch, a gypsy driver.
There are 75 tourist guides and 150 gypsies. Forest officers said they would take help of guides and drivers and have already initiated process to requisition 125 safari vehicles.
It’s around 5.30 pm and the sun has turned a little mild. Hearing warning calls of a spotted deer, a guide asks driver to stop the gypsy in Navi Raidi area. Soon, other vehicles also line up. Two trackers are sitting under a bush waiting for the lions to move out from the bed of a small stream. Tourists wait for almost half an hour but the jungle king refuses to show up. Finally, impatience gets to the tourists and they decide to end the safari.
“At this time of the year, trees shed their leaves and therefore visibility increases. More importantly, lions become localised due to shortage of water and this helps covering almost each and every animal during the census. The exercise will be conducted during full-moon night when lion activity remains high,” said Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) at Sasan wildlife division. The DCF is executing census drive.

Lion census, 2015: Checking out the pride.

The biggest-ever exercise to count the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world begins on Saturday.

Written by Gopal B Kateshiya | Updated: April 30, 2015 6:36 am
The biggest-ever exercise to count the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world begins on Saturday.
Count a sight
Enumerators will employ the ‘Total Block Counting Method’, which is based on the direct sighting. Indirect evidence — pugmarks or scat — will not be considered. Once spotted, lion will be photographed, and its unique identification marks — scars on face, shape of ears, tuft of hair on tail, colour, belly folds — will be recorded. The exact spot of the sighting will be pinned using GPS.
Preparing the ground
Pre-census activities ongoing for the past 9 months. Enumerators have been studying behaviour of animals, patterns of distribution of prides, etc. Lions’ movements have been tracked through GPS, GIS, and trap, still and video cameras. Information such as location of kills has been collected. Based on this data, 30-odd maps have been plotted, defining census area.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The big cat census.

Gir-3When I visited the Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat recently, my tour guide was very excited about the upcoming census of the Asiatic lion population in Gir which is the only home of the Asiatic lion outside Africa. The census exercise is conducted every five years, the last being in 2010. This year the census will be held from May 2 to 5. I was told that this time to make the census more scientific, the Gujarat Forest Department will be using global positioning system (GPS) and geographical information system (GIS) to record lion sightings. The last census result which was announced by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi on May 1, 2010 showed the lion count as 411 (97 males, 162 females and 152 cubs).
Gir-1Gir-2The census area will be divided into 30 zones and will have 625 counting booths and is expected to involve more than 2200 people. Instead of counting pugmarks, direct sighting method will be employed and body marks will be used to identify a lion. All sightings will be captured on camera and will be uploaded on a GPS device provided to each team. The census is done in summer to makes it easier for the sightings as due to the heat, water bodies are favourite hangouts of lion prides and the heat also restricts their movement so makes the sightings easier. The guide was definite that the lion count has increased over the last five years as many new cubs have been born since the last census.