Monday, July 31, 2017

Born Free Is Saddened To Learn Of The Death Of Xanda, Cecil The Lion's Son

Tragically, Cecil the lion’s son, Xanda, was killed by a trophy hunter outside of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Xanda's death comes almost exactly two years after Cecil's killing by an American trophy hunter, which generated public outrage at the cruelty of the trophy hunting industry.
Prashant K. Khetan, CEO and General Counsel for Born Free USA, says: "The killing of Xanda is a tragedy, simply put. We need no other statistic than that there are now fewer than 20,000 wild lions left in Africa. And, trophy hunting, absurdly called a "sport"—as though it were the same as putting a rubber ball through a basketball hoop—has played a major role in the dwindling of this incredible species. In the U.S., I hope that Congress will see this latest act of atrocity as an indication that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) should not be gutted; rather, we need to reintroduce and pass laws like the CECIL Animal Trophies Act to afford protections to wild animals so that tragedies like the killings of Cecil, and now his son Xanda, do not become a routine and forgotten occurrence."
Born Free USA has long fought to put an end to trophy hunting. We pushed for at-risk species to be listed on the ESA, which, among other things, restricts trophy imports. Thanks to our efforts and those of our partner organizations, West/Central African and Asiatic lions were listed as 'endangered' and East/Southern African lions were listed as 'threatened' in early 2016, making it far more difficult for American hunters to bring lion trophies back to the U.S. Following Cecil's death, we were at the forefront of efforts to develop and promote the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act, which aims to extend import and export prohibitions to sport-hunted species that have been proposed for listing, but are not yet listed under the ESA. We will keep you updated as this story progresses and what you can do to help.

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Gir: The charm and the challenge

By Chief of Bureau Rajnish Mishra
Gir: The charm and the challenge
Ahmedabad: Even as the abode of Asiatic lions is still three years away from the next census, the carnivores’ roar is getting louder. Many newer areas in its vicinity known as Greater Gir, which includes parts of Bhavnagar District – have witnessed increased presence.

As per the 2015 Census, Gir had 109 lions and 201 lionesses besides 213 cubs and sub-adults compared to a total 411 in 2010. In the words of the Chief Conservator of Forests (Jun gadh Wildlife Circle), the number was below 200 in the late sixties!

Though there are reports every year of lion deaths owing to varous reasons, it’s heartening that the pecentage declined to 0.7 % from the earlier 4 to 5%. Wells have been a major reason for such fatalities but parapets were constructed around 19,000 such structures.

However, the enhancement in lion population has posed challenges the biggest being a spree of attacks on humans. The animals killed at least five persons and injured a large number in Amreli and Gir Somnath districts within a period of three months last year. In Amreli, the Forest Department had to trap more than a dozen beasts following three incidents in which they also consumed parts of victims’ bodies.

Though the occurrences were puzzling, the official denied speculation that these resulted from dearth of natural food in the jungle.

Another problem is to protect lions from nature’s fury and other dangers. In 2015, the maximum 120 deaths were reported and at least 10 perished owing to extremely heavy rain. Though numerous cubs die every year, which is not uncommon, some are also claimed by road and train mishaps.

Gir is also home to over 300 leopards, the sambar and the chowsingha. It boasts 40-plus species of reptiles and amphibians. ‘Sinh Darshan’ is conducted in open jeeps throughout the year barring the monsoon months.


Leopard injures three of a family

The villagers contacted forest department officials of who rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation, the DCF said, adding that traps have been laid in the area and effort is on to nab the leopard

ahmedabad, Jul 23 Three members of a family were injured after a leopard attacked them at Chakrava village in Khamba taluka of Amreli district in DHARI forest division late last night, a forest department official said.
Dinesh Chauhan, Manga Chauhan and Ajay Chauhan, three brothers, were sleeping in their thatched house in the village when a leopard entered and attacked them, leaving them injured, deputy conservator of forests (Gir East division), T Karuppasami said.
"The leopard entered the house at around 2 am when the three brothers were sleeping and attacked them, leaving them injured," Kuruppasami said.
As they raised alarm, villagers woke up and ran after the leopard, which escaped taking advantage of the darkness, he said.
The villagers contacted forest department officials of who rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation, the DCF said, adding that traps have been laid in the area and effort is on to nab the leopard.
"Meanwhile, the injured were taken to Dhari primary health centre, and from there to Amreli hospital," he said.
The village is located near Gir Wildlife Sanctuary which is also home to lions.

The problem of diminishing wildlife habitats

Overpopulation of tigers in their reserves, rhinos in Kaziranga and lions in Gir, compounded by the reduction of habitat is alarming
Tigers are very tough to relocate as they cause conflict in the new areas—with tigers in residence and peripheral villages. Photo courtesy: Mithun Hanagund
Tigers are very tough to relocate as they cause conflict in the new areas—with tigers in residence and peripheral villages. Photo courtesy: Mithun Hanagund
The biggest threat to wildlife conservation is inadequate habitat. Some people realize this, but it’s not in our face like the photo of a dead rhino bleeding, with its horn chopped off, and hence the major concern is on poaching instead of the larger threat of habitat destruction. More rhinos are born than are killed by poachers.
Conservation efforts are paying off, with sightings of tigers in most parks having gone up dramatically. The effort on rhino conservation in Kaziranga has been phenomenal. From being practically extinct, we now have over 2,500 rhinos. Normally one should say “Wow”; however, Kaziranga cannot support these growing numbers due to the lack of habitat.
Similarly, a limited habitat with the growing population of tigers is leading to territorial fights, causing more tiger deaths and also increasing man-animal conflict as tigers are forced out of protected areas. Each tiger needs to establish its own territory, and some tigers have been known to migrate over 200km. Wildlife conservation organizations are studying how corridors can be created to link habitats for tigers so that they can establish new territories.
Overpopulation of tigers in tiger reserves, rhinos in Kaziranga and lions in Gir, compounded by the reduction of habitat, especially for rhinos in Kaziranga, is alarming. The silting of grasslands, and woodlands gradually spreading into grasslands, needs to be urgently addressed as grasslands are needed for the rhinos. The practice of jhumming (burning grass to remove small trees, and to provide softer green shoots for rhinos) needs to be supplemented with other solutions.
One answer lies in relocating rhinos from Kaziranga to other areas where they exist or existed earlier, such as Manas, Orang, Jaldapara, Dudhwa etc. Interestingly, rhinos once thrived throughout the Indo-Gangetic plain. They are shown in Indus Valley civilization and Harappan drawings, and there are also references to rhino skins being used for bowstrings by the Moghuls.
Experts have opined that there is a need to initially identify suitable habitats with grasslands and water bodies, and then develop a national plan for the relocation, with an administrative set up and manpower to secure and manage such areas effectively. Subsequently, pilots could be conducted and, based on the learnings, there could be larger relocations. As forests are a state subject, coordination would be important. Fortunately, huge tracts of pristine forests still exist, and these can be converted into national parks.
It is reported that the cost of translocating just one rhino from Kaziranga to Manas, an existing rhino sanctuary, would be approximately Rs8 lakh, and the cost of relocating one tiger is approximately Rs10 lakh. Ongoing organizational, administrative and monitoring costs would be an addition. It is believed that over the next five years, large numbers would need to be relocated. Attempts at relocation have been made and continue, but the numbers required are daunting, as also the funding requirements.
Tigers are very tough to relocate as they cause conflict in the new areas—with tigers in residence and peripheral villages. Rhinos are easier to relocate. However, both are in danger of being poached when left without being monitored. There is a need for all stakeholders to get together to ensure successful relocation.
Karbi Anglong, which borders Kaziranga in Assam and has more than double the area, was declared a protected area in 2000, when authorities realized that animals crossing the road from Kaziranga into Karbi Anlong were no longer protected. The administrative set up for ensuring protection to animals in Karbi Anglong is still wanting, and animals are poached more easily there. Moreover, despite a Supreme Court order instructing the forest department to remove unauthorized construction inside the designated reserve areas, we see only scattered demolitions mainly on the Kaziranga side but very few on the Karbi Anglong side. Fortunately, we have large areas like Karbi Anlong where habitats can be increased with effective administration.
Can roads and rail tracks be realigned to skirt the periphery of parks rather than cutting through them? Where this is not possible, both over and under passes for animals could be constructed to connect the two sides. Internationally it has been seen through camera traps that over a period of time, animals use these passes, thus increasing their habitat and preventing accidents.
The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, established sanctuaries, national parks, and tiger reserves numbering over 660 till 2015. This Act and Project Tiger have not only benefited tigers but also conserved the biodiversity of the forests and all the species residing in those parks. By creating national reserve forests, we have also protected water bodies and rivers that are part of these areas.
Interventions require proper studies and adequate time for evaluation through pilots, as there could be unintended consequences—e.g. sometimes flyovers on highways have altered the discharge routes for water, resulting in flooding. Ecological processes take centuries to evolve. Numerous “highlands” are being planned to provide animals safety above flood levels in Kaziranga. Though highlands sound logical, some experts question the requirement, as some animals die in the floods but the majority survive because of well-honed natural instincts. There is also a fear that on highlands, animals may remain marooned and not be able to survive till water levels recede.
An example of initiatives without proper studies and research having unintended negative results was the offer by some parks of a bounty of Rs50 for every wild dog killed till the early 1980s. The idea was to preserve prey like spotted deer for tigers. However, this meant there were no wild dogs to force the spotted deer from the open spaces back into the forest, where tigers found it easier to prey on them. Since the bounty was renounced, it has been noticed that spotted deer are now much more evenly spread through the forest. Most parks have an uphill task of addressing threats from weeds which are also affecting habitats—wild rose and water hyacinth in Kaziranga, hedge blossom or besharam as it is locally known in Satpura and lantana in several parks.
The good news is that solutions exist to increase habitat and conserve our wildlife.
Naina Lal Kidwai is chairperson, FICCI Sustainability, Energy and Water Council and Rashid K Kidwai is coordinator, India Sanitation Coalition.

India losing 135 hectares of forests daily, wildlife crisis at hand

| | Jul 29, 2017, 11:14 PM IST|
(L to R) Prerna Singh Bindra, Dia Mirza and Praveen Pardeshi at the BNHS event on Friday evening.(L to R) Prerna Singh Bindra, Dia Mirza and Praveen Pardeshi at the BNHS event on Friday evening.
MUMBAI: On the eve of Global Tiger Day, the Bombay Natural History Society held a thought provoking event in the city to discuss the wildlife crisis at hand, as the country continues of loose forest land for further development and expansion of human habitation. Worldwide, it is already a known fact that earth is on the verge of 'sixth mass extinction' as we are losing 1000 to 10,000 species annually due to human activities.

"If we were to put a price tag on India's entire natural forest resources, then it comes to Rs 6 lakh crore. Yet, our country is losing 135 hectares of forest land every day for various developmental and other purposes. So we cannot afford to be complacent now to these facts and dare to hope and plan properly for the conservation of wildlife and forests,'' said author and former member of National Board for Wildlife, Prerna Singh Bindra.

She was joined in a panel discussion on the topic by the additional chief secretary to Chief Minister's Office, Praveen Pardeshi, and actor Dia Mirza. Bindra has authored the new book, The Vanishing, which delves on the wildlife situation in India. It's not just in forests, but common species like sparrows and fireflies too seem to dwindling in our backyards.
It is shocking that currently there are only three great Indian bustards left in Maharashtra, pointed Bindra.

"I have often wondered why it is so difficult for people to understand the interdependence between ecology and economy. The fragile link between our human wellbeing and the wellbeing of our shared planet with eco-systems that cradle our life is vital,'' said Dia Mirza, who is also actively involved towards the cause of saving India's Asiatic elephants.
Mirza also remarked that it is a near "miracle'' that around 22 leopards live within the big metropolis of Mumbai at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which makes it among the highest density of leopards in the country.

IAS officer Praveen Pardeshi noted: "It's been observed that wildlife including tigers and leopards tend to survive and thrive better within forest sanctuaries like SGNP. For example, the Tadoba tiger reserve in Maharashtra is barely one-fifth the size of neighbouring Gadchiroli core forest area. However, there are more tiger numbers in Tadoba, and barely any in Gadchiroli. This is something we must all think about why this is so.''

Pardeshi also stressed that there has to be a healthy balance between wildlife protection and necessary development so that there is proper application of mind to serve the purpose.

''India is a great conservation success story, and has done a remarkable job of saving tigers, with over 60% of the world's wild tigers, even as we are the second most populous country in the world. We also have with the largest number of Asiatic elephants, the only population of the Asiatic lion and is refuge to species like gharial, Ganges dolphins, lesser floricans which exist only in small numbers elsewhere. This has been possible because of strong protectionists laws, political will as the strong cultural connect we have with nature," said Bindra, while talking of the positive aspects. At the same time, she cautioned that how India's rapid growth is ravaging our environment, forests and wildlife. "Which is why we must all have that audacity to hope, so that what we have now is not lost in near future,'' she said.

The Vanishing takes an unflinching look at the unacknowledged crisis that India's wildlife faces, bringing to fore the ecocide that the country's growth story is leaving in its wake — laying to waste its forests, endangering its wildlife, even tigers whose increasing numbers shield the real story of how development projects are tearing their habitat to shreds. It tells us why extinction matters, linking the fate of wildlife to ours.

Wildlife photographer bitten by selfie bug, gets seriously bitten by a Wolf while trying to take a selfie with the animal

29, Jul 2017 By RT
Gir Forest National Park. A wildlife photographer got seriously bitten by a Wolf while trying to take a selfie with the animal. The incident happened in the morning hours, when the selfie loving photographer got close to the animal trying to take a selfie, it is learnt by Faking News.
“I don’t know what kind of a photographer this guy is. He was going from enclosure to enclosure, taking selfie with birds, rodents and monkeys. Everything was OK until he got closure to a wolf, against the advice of fellow travellers. The animal was not aggressive until the flash. The light from the camera must have irritated the wolf. Before the guy looked down on the phone to check the quality of the newly taken selfie, the animal attacked,” an observer to the incident told Faking News.
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“People go to monuments and take selfies; visit restaurants and take selfies; In buses, trains, malls, movie theatres and just about everywhere else take selfies. But, a wildlife photographer taking selfie with animals is something extraordinary. Even the regular tourists were taking photos of the birds and animals and not selfies with them. The wolf had bitten on his shoulders and also on the selfie arm,” he further commented on the general behaviour of selfie lovers and how it worked against this photographer, in this incident.

I am not a crazy guy as most of the people who carry a mobile phone with 4 cameras. As a wildlife photographer, I used to just take photographs of wildlife and never a selfie. Only recently, I have seen some people having a wilder life, more wild than the jungles, taking selfies  and looking unbearably wild in the photos. The bug got into me and I started this new thing,” the photographer admitted on his weird behaviour to Faking News.

Prior to leaving the hospital, our reporter politely obliged to a selfie taken with the heavily bandaged photographer.

Lie-in with the lions Spend a night feeling like the king of the jungle in a cabin next to prowling lions at London Zoo

Sleep yards away from the lions in en-suite cabins inside London Zoo's Land of the Lions experience

No respite from rain in Amreli, Jamnagar

| Jul 18, 2017, 11:19 AM ISTRAJKOT: Heavy rains continued to pound several parts of Saurashtra on Monday with Babra town of Amreli getting the highest 108mm since 6am.

Amreli, Kutch, Jamnagar and Valsad districts received more than 60mm rainfall. However, no untoward incident was reported from any of these districts.

Besides Babra, Vapi town was lashed by 93mm rains followed by Kaprada 82mm, Dhrol 78mm, Jodiya 74mm, Gandevi 63mm, Chikhli 70mm and Lathi in Amreli that got 67mm, according to state flood control room sources.

The Amreli-Palitana state highway was blocked after a causeway on Gagadiya river near Nana Liliya overflowed due to incessant rains. In Babra, the rivulets were overflowing and rain waters gushed into several houses in the town.
Also, an Asiatic lion was seeing feasting on an ox that got stuck on Dhari-Tulsishyam highway that resulted in sudden swelling of Vekrala river near Sarasiya village. It was a sight to behold as commuters stopped their vehicles before the forest department staffers reached the spot and shifted the carcass to the jungle area.

The rescue operation launched by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to trace four persons, who were swept away in Alia Bada village near Jamnagar, was suspended due to dark. The four were in the car when they got stranded in the flood waters and swept away.

In Jambuda village of Jamnagar, nearly 200 goats were found dead after flood waters receded.

Late in the evening, heavy rains also lashed Surendranagar, Vadhwan, Limbdi as well as Adipur in Kutch. Gandhidham and other parts of Kutch also received significant rainfall.