Sunday, November 30, 2014

The moment Indian farmer grabs an injured lioness by the TAIL and pokes it with a stick 'to prove to his friend it was still alive' Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • Cattleman found lion wounded on ground in India's Gir wildlife sanctuary
  • Realising it was hurt, they reported their find to local conservationists
  • Forestry officials could not find the animal and they called the farmer back
  • He found the lion again, grabbed its tail and poked it to prove it was alive
  • Film taken by his friend was initially mistaken for them taunting the animal 
  • But officials confirm animal was only recovered because cattlemen had contacted them 

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lion Safari to host a bird sanctuary too.

Apart from Asiatic Lions, visitors to Lion Safari in Etawah would also be able to watch wide variety of local birds as well as winged guests. The Samajwadi Party government is all set to develop a bird sanctuary at the safari.

Safari's director KK Singh said, "Nearly three hectares within the Fisher forest area has been identified for the project. National Chambal Sanctuary is already a home to a host of migratory birds coming from all parts of the Asiatic region. The bird sanctuary at the safari will create a natural ambience for willdlife lovers."

Winged visitors, including 'Brahmini' Duck, Rosy Pelican, Grey Leg Geese, Bar-Headed Geese and Fowler Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Common Coot, White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail, make the region their home every year, so it was only logical for the government to create a safe environment for the avians, he said.

Talking to TOI, Chambal's divisional forest officer (DFO) Anil Patel said, "We have already sent the proposal to Central Zoo Authority (CZA) through senior state forest authorities and, if all goes well, this would be one of the best bird sanctuary in the state," said Patel.

"A major plantation drive was carried out in Lion Safari. After acquiring full growth, the plants would provide shelter to local as well as migratory birds. We have decided to place artificial nests on the trees to attract avians," said another senior forest department official.

He said a team is already working to identify feasible spots to create artificial ponds to attract winged guests from October to March. "We are in the process of collecting data on migratory birds so that we can customise the area to suit requirements of winged guests. Famous ornithologists would also be brought to treat the birds and study their nesting, breeding and feeding habits." he further said.

The team would take steps for installation of sign-boards stating the importance of local and migratory birds in the region.

Inquiry ordered into allegations of cruelty to sick lioness in Gir forest.

Last Updated: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 21:24

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Forest Department has initiated an inquiry into an alleged incident of cruelty to a sick and helpless lioness by an unidentified man in Gir forest in the state, which is home to more than 400 Asiatic lions.
A video clip which went viral through WhatsApp and other social media platforms a few days ago had raised the eyebrows of many animal lovers.
In this three-minute clip, a young man with a stick in his hand is shown getting close to a sleeping lioness in forest, which appears to be the Gir forest.
The clip showed the man first trying to wake up the lioness by prodding her with the stick.
However, after the lioness didn't respond, he pulled her tail several times, which angered the lioness.
It appeared that the lioness was sick, since she failed to even stand up on her feet despite repeated provocations by the man.
Since the clip was labelled as cruelty to wild animals in social media, the Gujarat state forest department took cognisance of the matter and initiated an inquiry.
It has been claimed that the clip was shot in the Gir forest near Dhari range of Amreli district, though a primary investigation seems to suggest that the man in the video clip was actually helping forest officials identify such sick animals in deep pockets of the forest.
"We learned that the person shown in the clip is a local living in Gir forest. If you look carefully, he actually took forest officials to that lioness suffering from disease. To find out what has happened to her, he lifted her tail and prodded her with a stick," Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF-Wildlife) R L Meena said, refuting the 'cruelty' angle as claimed on social media platforms.
Since it has been claimed that the clip was shot in the Dhari range in the eastern part of Gir forest, the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF-East Gir) Anshuman Sharma has begun an inquiry to find out the truth.
"There are many locals in the forest who help forest officials. It seems that the video was shot an year back. To find out the truth behind allegations of cruelty, we have begun an inquiry. By tomorrow, the picture will be clear," Sharma said.

Maldharis who shot lioness video helped rescue it, say Gir forest officials.

Maldharis who shot lioness video helped rescue it, say Gir forest officials.
Express News Service | Rajkot | Posted: November 25, 2014 1:32 am
A DAY after a video showing a man “teasing” a lioness went viral on social media, the Gujarat forest department said it was no mischief and was shot by two maldharis (herdsmen) who had helped forest officers track the carnivore.
“The video was shot by two maldharis on December 30, 2013 in Jasadhar range of Gir East division. They found the animal paralysed. While one of them tried to assess the its weakness by touching its tail, the other one shot the action on his cellphone. They informed forest officers and the lioness was taken to Jasadhar Animal Care centre late that evening,” chief conservator of forests in Junagadh wildlife circle R L Meena said, adding that media had misunderstood the clipping.
In his report to higher authorities, Anshuman Sharma, deputy conservator of forests of Gir East division, identified the two maldharis as Kanu Vala and Shiva Lakhantra. The report said that Vala found the lioness in Tarbheti Taliya area of the forest and concluded that it was ill. He informed his uncle Lakhantra, who contacted forest officers. However, a trackers party from Jasadhar could not locate the big cat, the report states.
“In the evening, Vala took Lakhantra to the spot where the lioness had been lying. They found the lioness at the same spot. Lakhantra went closer to the lioness and checked with it with his stick. To assess its condition, he lifted its tail. Vala shot all this on his cellphone,” Sharma said, referring to Vala’s statement.
After local dailies reported on the video, state forests Minister Mangubhai Patel ordered an inquiry and sought a report within three days.
The DCF has forwarded his report to the state’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and a copy of the same is available with The Indian Express.
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Personal Journey: Face to face with the king: The elusive lion strikes the pose.

To most people, lions are symbolic of Africa. However, in one forest on another continent, the Asian lion has made its last stand. Once upon a time, lions roamed in large numbers across a vast swath of Europe and Asia. But hunting and habitat destruction have greatly reduced their numbers. Gir Forest National Park in the state of Gujarat, India, is the last stronghold of the Asian lion. There are only about 200 left in the wild. On a trip to India in January, I decided to visit Gir to see these elusive Asian lions and the deer, wild boars, monkeys, and peacocks that inhabit the forest.
I traveled by car from Ahmedabad, the former capital of Gujarat, and stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of the forest. The evening was spent talking to the inhabitants of the local village and making arrangements for a safari the following day.
Very early in the morning, when the animals are active, I entered the forest in an open Jeep with a driver and a forest guide. It was still dark with a gentle cool breeze. Scent travels far under such conditions, ideal for lions to locate their prey. There was no sound except that of the Jeep engine and the indescribable background noise of the jungle. Every rustle would set our hearts racing.
Gradually, the inky darkness yielded to a glorious dawn. Shafts of golden sunlight filtered through the jungle canopy and lit up patches of the forest floor covered with dry brown leaves. Our ears and eyes strained to catch sound or sight of the lions. After some driving on jungle tracks, we heard muffled roars in the distance. We stopped and listened, senses stretched to the breaking point, trying to gauge the direction and distance of the roars.


'Fear of extinction of Asiatic lions from Gir not scientific'.

Last Updated at 16:00 IST
MP Parimal Nathwani said here that scientific facts do not support the fear of extinction of Asiatic lions from Gir national park in and emphasised on the need to create awareness among stakeholders in this regard.

Addressing a gathering of activists and students at a wild life photography exhibition held yesterday, Nathwani said people and the state government are opposed to the idea of translocating some Asiatic lions from Gir forest (in Somnath district) to Kuno wild life sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

Supreme in April 2013 had ruled that some lions in the Gir forest be shifted to Kuno wild life sanctuary in MP within six months.

"The apex court and Centre's fears, that a second home is needed to save Asiatic lions from extinction, were not supported by scientific proof. Kuno is not suitable for Gir lions owing to presence of tigers there, its eco-climate is different from that of Gir forest," he said.

The MP said that there were 25 tigers in Kuno forest at one time but in July 2009, there was no significant tiger population.

Translocation of lions from Gir will cause an irreparable damage to the sociology of lions in the state, he added.

He also said the Kuno sanctuary has witnessed a rise in number of incidences of poaching in the recent past and claimed that there are more than 400 gun-licence holders in the region.

The Gir national forest park is boasted as the pride of Gujarat which is the only natural habitat of the Asiatic lions.

How safe are Etawah safari lions?

After reports that lion Vishnu died of canine distemper in Etawah safari, threat of this viral disease also looms over the six Asiatic lions housed on the sprawling safari campus.

Although senior sate forest officials claim that the area where Vishnu and Lakshmi had been quarantined and treated has been disinfected and necessary precautions taken to prevent the spread of the disease, experts said, "The threat of the virus does not completely end if it makes its reach in a particular area."

A senior forest department official revealed that only after a few days of treatment of the lion and lioness ailing with paralysis, veterinarians had come to know that it was none other than the canine distemper disease due to the symptoms that the two showed. But, this fact could never be accepted till the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly submitted its initial report. For face saving, it was officially said that the lions were infected with some unknown viral disease but the veterinarians who were successful in diagnosing the disease through its symptoms gave all possible medication to save the animals, the official added preferring anonymity.

An expert said canine distemper can spread through air and body fluids in animals and according to documented facts, it can affect other animals surrounding susceptible hosts. The disease has been reported to spread from as far as 32 kms from an affected animal to another. It is mainly a dogs' disease which spreads easily in the felines (cat family) including lions and tigers. Going by the logic, the lions at the safari are at risk and should be screened properly, he claimed.

However, principal chief conservator of forests Rupak De denied that the remaining lions can contract the disease. "As soon as Vishnu and Lakshmi displayed signs of paralysis, they were segregated and hospitalised for treatment. Also, all necessary precautions had been taken."

But the fact is that the ailing lions were treated on the same safari campus where the six other lions had been housed, keeps the bomb ticking.

According to official sources, immediately after the death of the lion Vishnu, the area where he had been quarantined was disinfected. The exercise is still in progress, realising the fact that lion safari is a major project of the state government and to prevent other lions from the deadly disease.

A top forest official said on condition of anonymity that the cell in which Vishnu lived has been sanitised properly and now the process has come to an end. He said that the veterinarians treating the lions were also not allowed to go towards the breeding centre where six other lions were housed. "All necessary precautions have been taken as a standard procedure. Also, the six lions are hale and hearty and have adapted to the safari environment," he added.

Interestingly, the thickly populated surrounding area of the safari is home to a large number of dogs and this has been one of the reasons for the spread of canine distemper in the lions. Though forest department officials told TOI that the safari area is a dog-free zone, they could not deny dogs' presence outside safari.

According to the experts the death of the lions is a bad omen for the safari before its start. The death of the two lions has also reduced their already dwindling numbers. According to 2010 lion census, India is house to only 411 Asiatic lions, with Gir housing most of them. The death of the lions due to canine distemper virus is a matter of a serious concern and underlines the importance of their conservation, a veterinarian said.

Now this remains to be seen how the forest department will compensate the loss of two lions in Etawah safari. "Loss of two lions means a loss. This cannot be compensated with other lions. Their death means two lions now less in the total lion population which is a national loss," said Neeraj Mishra, a wildlife enthusiast.

Another ailing lion dies at Etawah.

PTI [ Updated 16 Nov 2014, 19:11:21 ]

A lion who was ailing for over a month died today due to multiple organ failure at the Lion Breeding Centre in Etawah, officials sources said. A forest department spokesman said that advice from experts from across the country and abroad was taken for the treatment of the lion, named Vishnu, who was taken ill since the last one and a half months.
Vishnu died of cardiac arrest due to multi organ dysfunction this morning, he said. It is the second feline to die at Etawah Safari.
On October 30 an ailing lioness, named Lakshmi, who was ill for past one year, died due to multi-organ failure at the breeding centre, Etawah.
The Asiatic lion pair—Lakshmi and Vishnu—sent from the Kanpur Zoo to Etawah Lion Safari in September were suffering from ‘multiple infections’, including a viral infection that led to paralysis.
Both of them were later segregated and hospitalised in the safari soon after they showed symptoms of paralysis. They were brought to Kanpur Zoo from Hyderabad in April 2013.