Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Demand to translocate Gir lions outside Gujarat picks up, finds "local support" following attack on villagers

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
By Our Representative

With Asiatic lions killing, in all, five persons outside the Gir National Park and Sanctuary area, the demand to translocate the big cat outside Gujarat is beginning to gain momentum. Veteran environmentalist Ravi Chellam, a top lions expert, has already fired the salvo saying this is an “urgent and necessary issue.”
Chellam, who took over as executive director of Greenpeace India following the controversial Government of India decision to withdraw its foreign donations permit in September last year, reportedly said, “The one big conservation action that has not been taken so far is to comply with the Supreme Court judgment regarding the translocation of lions”.
For years, the Gujarat government has made it a “prestige issue” in the Supreme Court, refusing to allow any translocation of the big cat to Madhya Pradesh, as contemplated by wildlife experts. It has argued how increase in its population means the lions are “comfortable” and “safe” in their existing environment.
Chellam says, “Lions have thrived in this region and their population has also increased. But the big problem is the protection of the habitat both within the sanctuary as well as in the surrounding landscapes.”
He insists, “Fairly rapid change in land-use and the construction of highways and other infrastructural projects, including fences and walls, are all fragmenting, degrading and destroying wildlife habitats.”
In a rare support, retired Gujarat forest official HS Singh, who has authored books on Gir lions, and is a member of the National Board for Wildlife, has said, “We’re sitting on a time bomb with such exponential growth of lions outside the protected areas, and this is spilling into the entire Saurashtra region.”
“The challenge is not just about developing new habitats for the lions complete with prey base and water points, which itself is a Herculean task, but also about managing the near impossible man-animal conflict which is already happening”, he declares.
Ironical though it may seem, those upholding the cause of the Gir lion as Gujarat's pride want villagers to kill the wild cat in “self-defence” – thus providing enough ammunition to those wishing to shift the Asiatic lion to Madhya Pradesh.
Ex-Gujarat agriculture minister Dileep Sanghani, known for his closeness to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asked the state government to provide arms to farmers residing on the periphery of the Gir lion sanctuary and allow them to kill lions in self-defence.
He recently shot a letter to state forest minister Mangubhai Patel saying that “attacks on cattle have been happening for long time, but when wild animals have become human eaters, the forest department should form a committee and make arms available to farmers with liberty to kill lions.”
This was preceded by dissident BJP legislator and Patidar agitation leader Nalin Kotadia delcaring against the proposed eco-sensitive zone in villages around Gir forest, advising villagers to kill lions – leading to angry BJP cadre reaction wanting to “uphold” the Gujarati pride, Asiatic lion.
Last December, when in two separate incidents took place on the same day, with lions attacking and killing two people outside their habitat in the Gir forest, the only abode of the Asiatic lion. Gujarat officials classified the incidents as “rarest of the rare.”
Following three more killings, between May 21 and 23, Gujarat forest officials “caged” 16 lions, who allegedly turned carnivorous. Yet, the attacks have not stopped. On May 28, a 30-year-old man was attacked and was rushed to hospital.
Thanks to a sharp increase in its numbers to 523 in 2015 from 411 in 2010, the Asiatic lion has expanded its fiefdom to a staggering 22,000 sq-km across eight of the nine districts in the sprawling Saurashtra region, as against the total area of 1,412 sq km of Gir Sanctuary, known as the Asiatic lion's only abode.
Of the 1,412 sq km, 258 km forms the core National Park, a no-man territory where only wildlife can reside. The 2015 census found just 22 lions in the “fully protected” Gir National Park – a detail which the Gujarat government has still not officially declared. The actual carrying capacity of the Gir National Park is 60 (click HERE).
The lion census also found that there was a very little rise in the number of Gir lions in the forest area (Sanctuary plus National Park) – from 297 in 2010 to 302 in 2015. It suggests, approximately 220 lions are prowling outside the forest area.
The Gir forest's actual carrying capacity, ironically, is just around 250, which means more lions are now prowling outside its designated area!

Veteran of wildlife censuses

| TNN |
Ahmedabad: Since 1984, be it the Leopard, Wild Ass, Asiatic Lion or the Bird Census, especially at Nalsarovar, one man, Uday Vora, the conservator of forest, has been a part of each wildlife census in Gujarat. Not a simple member of the coordinating team for the wilds, Vora has been providing training, and even crunching the numbers when it comes to finalising the count of wildlife.

Vora was also a part of the two day vulture census which ended recently. During the Leopard census which concluded last Monday, Vora was posted in Dang and Narmada districts. He has been associated with five Wild Ass Census, 12-odd bird censuses in Nalsarovar, six Asiatic lion censuses, and an equal number of leopard censuses.

"It all began in 1984 when the Union government ordered a big cat census and it was taken up in Kutch. Since then, I have never looked back. The year next, I got associated with the lion census which was conducted by giving live bait to the lions. This has changed now, and we resort to counting by pug marks and direct sighting method," said Vora.
Vora said during the wild ass census the workers used to come across very rare species, but not many volunteers were aware of those. But things have changed, and according to Vora, the volunteers who are part of the census, now, are aware of other species apart from the main one being counted.

Vora was also responsible for developing a method that increased accuracy in counting of birds. He said earlier, before 1992, a very high number of pelicans and flamingoes were reported in Nalsarovar, but after using the new method, that number fell drastically. Vora's method calculates the number of birds based on the area inhabited by them.

He has also taken part in Gosabara and other wetland censuses, said Vora, observing that eliminating overlapping is a mammoth task. In the Nalsarovar Bird Census one has to check over 8,000 entries to avoid overlapping, he said. It is easier to eliminate overlapping in case of big cats and mammals, said Vora, but one has to take extra precaution during the birds census, he opined.

For example, he said, one would know that a leopard can move up to 8km-12 km and a sloth bear only 3km-4km in a day. Hence errors can be removed by looking at footprints and photo timings.

4 held for entering Gir sanctuary without permission

 gir national park, trespass in national park, trespass gir national park, gir national park trespass, human wildlife conflict, wildlife human conflict, human and wildlife conflict, man entered national park, man jumps into national park, man lion conflict, india news Forest Department of Gujarat has proposed to initiate drone surveillance in the forest areas of the state including in the Gir National Park, the only habitat of Asiatic Lion in the world."They confessed their offence and therefore we showed some leniency and let them go after they paid the fine," said the RFO.

AT A TIME when Gir East division has witnessed lion attacks on human in recent months, four persons were caught for allegedly entering Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary without permission and fined Rs 12,500, forest officers said on Sunday.
“The incident took place on the evening of May 22. Four persons on their way from Jamwala to Shemardi stopped midway, parked their vehicle on the roadside and entered the forest area with a view to watch lions. But they were caught by our staff for illegally entering the sanctuary area. They were let off after they paid Rs12,500 fine,” range forest officer (RF)) of Dalkhaniya in Gir East division, Bharat Parmar said.

  The RFO said that the four men belonged to Rajkot and Nadiad in Kheda district. “They confessed their offence and therefore we showed some leniency and let them go after they paid the fine,” said Parmar.

Entering a sanctuary area can attract imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to Rs 25,000.
Gir forest and other protected areas are the only natural habitat of endangered Asiatic lions. Lakhs of tourists go on official lion safaris conducted in tourism zone of Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary from Sasan every year. But some try to enter the protected forest without premission to watch lions and get caught.

Propagation of 4 species stopped in absence of mates

Anwar Hussain, Chittagong

  • The picture shows the lioness sitting in the Chittagong Zoo. The picture was taken on Thursday morning 
    Photo- Rabin Chowdhury

    • Some mammals of Chittagong Zoo are passing their days in extreme loneliness as they have no mates in their cages.
      Most of the lonely captive animals have already crossed half of their lifespan at the zoo which is now supervised by Chittagong district administration.
      The lonely animals have been deprived from the company of their mates for a long time and consequently the reproduction of four species of animals, including two lionesses, two male bears, two female Sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) and a male Gayal (Bos frontalis) is now at stake.
      The lifespan of an Asiatic Lion is 15-18 years in captivity. The Two lionesses of the zoo ‘Nova’ and ‘Borsha’ who were born in June 16, 2005 have reached their adulthood.
      Laxmi, mother of the duo died soon after giving birth while her spouse ‘Raj’ died in February 13, 2008.
      Two male bears which were brought in from Khagrachhari and Gazipur have already become 13 years and 6 years old respectively. The average lifespan of an ‘Asiatic Black Bear’ species is 20 years.
      On the other hand, the two female Sambar deer of the zoo are also pairlless. The average lifespan of a Samba deer is 20 years.
      Besides, a large semi-domesticated bovine called Gayal has been passing its days without a spouse.
      The zoologists warned that extreme loneliness and depression may shorten the lifespan of pair-less zoo animals.
      “The zoo animals living without a spouse for a long time will naturally turn restless and quick-tempered. The natural agility is not seen in case of a spouse less captive animal. Eventually the lonely animals stop eating food,” Prof Dr Md Farid Ahsan of Chittagong University’s Zoology Department.
      “We cannot discuss the problems of the zoo as the Zoo Executive Committee meeting is not held on a regular basis,” alleged Prof Dr Farid who is also a member of the zoo executive committee.
      Venting anger over the poor animal collection of the zoo, the visitors said that the zoo would not be able to woo the visitors unless they collect animals like giraffe, elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus.
      “My son has been insisting me on visiting zoo. My son was nagging me to show him Royal Bengal Tiger. To my surprise, Chittagong Zoo does not have any tiger. A zoo without a tiger has no lustre,” said Rounaque Jahan, a housewife has come to the zoo with his five-year old boy.
      “Visitors particularly the children feel disappointed when they do not see any tiger after visiting the zoo. Although the zoo authorities erected two huge sculptures of elephant and giraffe to welcome the visitors at the main entrance, the giant mammals are not found inside the zoo,” said Rounaque.
      “I feel utterly disappointed after visiting the zoo. Although the ticket price has been increased from Tk10 to Tk20, the zoo has no ostrich, elephant, tiger, elephant and hippopotamus,” said a visitor.
      Dr Md Mongur Morshed Chowdhury, deputy curator of Chittagong Zoo informed that the last tigress of the zoo ‘Purnima’ died of intestine cancer in 2012 while her spouse ‘Chandra’ died a natural death in 2006.
      “We have been making several attempts to increase diversity of the zoo. We have written letters to different zoos and safari parks of the country seeking tiger, lion and female deer,” said the deputy curator.
      “At present there is no lioness in Rangpur Zoo. An exchange can easily take place between the two zoos for a lion and a lioness,” added the deputy curator.
      Ruhul Amin, member secretary of Chittagong Zoo Executive Committee told the Dhaka Tribune that the procedures were going on for collecting spouses for the lonely mammals at the zoo.
      “The zoo set up over a six-acre area of land does not have enough space to accommodate big animals like giraffe, elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus,” said Amin, adding that they undertaken a mammoth project for bringing about a radical change to the zoo.


      Friday, May 27, 2016

      Lion kills 70-year-old woman near Kodinar

      TNN |
      RAJKOT: A 70-year-old woman died after being attacked by a lion in a farm in Vadnagar village, five km from Kodinar town in Gir-Somnath district, on Thursday.

      The woman, Valay Lakhani, was working in the field when the lion attacked her at around 6pm. When locals rushed to her help on hearing her cries, the lion left her and fled.

      Lakhani was rushed to a hospital in Kodinar but she died on the way. This is the fourth instance of Asiatic lions killing human beings in the last 68 days. The forest department has already caged a pride of 17 lions in Ambardi.


      Thursday, May 26, 2016

      Three people killed, Gir officials cage 13 lions

      Gir, gir lion, gir lion santuary, gir forest, gir forest human killed, gir lion attack, gir lions caged, gir lion attack, gir lion captured, guajrat news, gir santuary, india news, latest news, Three people were killed by lions in as many months in Dhari taluka (Source: Express photo by Bhupendra Rana/ File)Written by Gopal B Kateshiya
      Rajkot Published:May 23, 2016, 2:14

      Gir forest officials on Sunday caged three more lions of a pride that is suspected to have preyed on a teenage boy near Ambardi village of Dhari taluka in Amreli district two days ago. With this, all 13 lions of the pride have been caged following demands by locals as well as politicians after three people were killed by the big cats in Gir region in the last three months.
      According to locals, the pride dragged away Jayraj (14) when he was sleeping beside his father Madhu Solanki at their farm on Friday. The half-eaten body was found 500 m from the farm.

      Following the incident, the forest department set up 12 cages and captured 10 members of the pride on Saturday, said T Karuppasamy, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) of Gir East. “Three more lions were caged in Ambardi on Sunday. We have now caged the entire pride. They have been sent to the animal care centre in Jasadhar for scat analysis,” he told The Indian Express. Forest officers said that scat or excreta of lions generally carry traces of meat they consume. If traces of the boy’s flesh are found in scat of any of the pride members, the lion may remain in the cage for a long time, they added.
      The attack on Friday was the third in as many months in Dhari taluka. Forest officers suspect that one pride was involved in all three attacks.
      After the Amreli incident, former minister Dilip Sanghani, who belongs to the area, wrote to state Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel, seeking killing of lions that attack humans. The sarpanches also wrote to the Dhari DCF seeking action.
      While this is the first time that an entire pride has been enmeshed, experts blamed humans for the man-lion conflicts. “Around 40 per cent of lions are living outside the forest area, therefore such incidents may happen,” said Govind Patel, former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat and former member of the National Board for Wildlife. Bhushan Pandya, member of the state wildlife board, said, “Their (lions) behaviour is not abnormal. If people take basic precautions like not sleeping in the open, such cases can be avoided.”

      Sloth bear, leopard census begins today

      Fri,20 May 2016
      Summary: Ahmedabad: The three-day leopard and sloth bear census will begin from Friday. We have also roped in retired forest officials, volunteers and NGOs to help in the census which will be conducted across Gujarat." "The sloth bear census will be largely reliant on camera traps as the animal's habitat is covered with adequate number of cameras. Only local residents from Junagadh, Gir-Somnath and Amreli will be allowed to be a part of the leopard census in Gir Sanctuary and nearby areas. Apart from camera traps volunteers and forest officials will be keeping a close watch on animal movements," said the official.Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife) JA Khan said, "We have deployed 6000 forest officials for the three-day exercise.
      Ahmedabad: The three-day leopard and sloth bear census will begin from Friday. The forest department has stationed 100-odd cameras across wildlife sanctuaries to record movements of sloth bears and leopards.A senior state forest official said, "This year we have restricted the flow of volunteers and NGOs in Gir and nearby areas. Only local residents from Junagadh, Gir-Somnath and Amreli will be allowed to be a part of the leopard census in Gir Sanctuary and nearby areas.

      The decision to include locals was taken as our previous experience have taught us that volunteers from Ahmedabad, Vadodara and other parts of the state tend to be more interested in their personal photography than movements of the animal."The sloth bear census will be largely reliant on camera traps as the animal's habitat is covered with adequate number of cameras. "Of the 100 odd cameras, 50 are in Gir sanctuary and 10 cameras each in Jambughoda, Ratanmahal, Soolpaneshwar, Balaram-Ambaji and Jessore sanctuaries. Apart from camera traps volunteers and forest officials will be keeping a close watch on animal movements," said the official.Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife) JA Khan said, "We have deployed 6000 forest officials for the three-day exercise.

      Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Sloth-bear-leopard-census-begins-today/articleshow/52353450.cms

      Gujarat:13 lions en-caged after spate of big cat attacks

      Published: 22nd May 2016 03:03 PM
      Last Updated: 22nd May 2016 03:03 PM
      VADODARA: As many as three lives were claimed in attacks by Asiatic lions in eastern Gir forests in the last two months, following which 13 lions of a pride roaming in the area were captured and en-caged in accordance with Gujarat government's orders.
      "An 11-year-old boy, identified as Jayesh Solanki, was attacked by Asiatic lioness in Dhari taluka. He was found dead in a mango orchard owned by sarpanch (village head) of Ambardi village of Amreli district on May 19," Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), Dhari-East range of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, T Karuppasamy said.
      There were pug marks of a lioness near the place from where the body was recovered. His father also got injured in trying to save him, he said. "Prior to the minor's death, two others, identified as 50-year-old woman Labhuben D Solanki and 60-year-old man Jinabhai Makwana, were killed in attacks by Asiatic lions in Bharad village and Ambardi village, respectively, of Amreli district," he said.
      With the capturing of three lions last night, the total number of the big cats caught and caged has gone upto 13. This exercise would continue, J A Khan, Additional Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife) of Gujarat government, said today.
      "Medical examination of the en-caged lions would help in ascertaining as to which of the felines attacked the minor boy (Jayesh Solanki). At this juncture, it can not be said with certainty that the lions have turned into man-eaters," he said.
      The process of awarding compensation of Rs 2.25 lakh to the kin of the victims has been initiated, Karuppasamy said, adding a case of accidental death has been registered by the police in each of the incidents and further probe is on.
      Local residents as well as leaders of Amreli have been demanding action against man-eater lions for quite some time. Man-lion conflicts are rare in and around Gir forests, said to be the last abode of Asiatic Lions, where as per the last census conducted in 2015, the count of the big cat stood at 523.