Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mysuru zoo gets new additions from Lucknow under exchange programme

Apart from rosy pelicans (in picture), Mysuru zoo has received a pair of swamp deer and a female stripped hyena from Lucknow zoo under an exchange programme.— PHOTO: M.A.SRIRAM
Apart from rosy pelicans (in picture), Mysuru zoo has received a pair of swamp deer and a female stripped hyena from Lucknow zoo under an exchange programme.— PHOTO: M.A.SRIRAM
People visiting the famous Mysuru zoo will get to see new animals and birds as the zoo has received fresh pedigree from the zoo in Lucknow in a bid to prevent inbreeding.
A pair of swamp deer, four pairs of rosy pelicans, and a female stripped hyena arrived here recently from Lucknow under an exchange programme.
In return, Mysuru zoo sent a pair of black swans, a pair of silver pheasants, and two pairs of hog deers to Lucknow zoo.
Mysuru zoo Executive Director K. Kamala told The Hindu that the animals and birds arrived here on August 13 and are quarantined.
“All of them have been exhibited,” she said.
This exchange is meant for adding new bloodline since the zoo here is already home to such animals and birds.
“We have three male and eight female hyenas. We also have a swamp deer. The new bloodline will discontinue inbreeding and result in fresh stock of animals and birds,” she said, adding that inbreeding may also result in diseases.
Renitha, a lioness from Sakkarbaug zoo in Junagadh in Gujarat, which arrived here under an exchange programme recently, will be displayed to visitors from Wednesday, she said.
Mysuru zoo gave a pair of black swans, two Indian grey wolves and a pair of sun conure birds to Sakkarbaug zoo.
Sakkarbaug zoo is known for breeding Asiatic lions— an endangered species found only in Gir forest in Gujarat— and later releasing them into Gir forest. Five years ago, Mysuru zoo received a pair of lions from Sakkarbaug zoo.
Mysuru zoo had Asiatic lions in 1989 but they could not breed. Rakshitha and Darshan, both of whom were cross-bred, are the two other lions in Mysuru zoo.

Zoo dreams big, planning to bring in stars

Even as the city zoo’s efforts to bring in a pair of Himalayan bears from Nagaland continue, it is setting its sights higher to bring in some ‘star’ animals from abroad.
Giraffe, zebra, white lion, and black jaguar are the animals the zoo is looking to bring over from Africa. The proposal has the State government’s backing, but sanction from the Central Zoo Authority and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change is needed before other procedures get under way.
Also on the cards is acquisition of an Asiatic lion from Hyderabad. The lions at the zoo here are a hybrid of African and Asian, but the zoo is looking to bring in a pure Asiatic lion. A decision on this is expected at a meeting of the CZA the coming week.
The meeting is also likely to give the green signal to a proposal to bring white peacocks and reticulated python from the Vandalur zoo in Chennai.
The Himalayan bears will take another month to arrive, Zoo Director K. Gangadharan said. “We need to book an SLR coach to bring them here. Papers have been sent to Southern Railway in Chennai, and one we get their go-ahead, the bears can be transported here.”
The plan is to bring them over on the direct train from Dimapur.
At the zoo, the enclosures of various species are in for an overhaul. The exotic birds aviary near the zoo hospital, which has been in a bad shape owing to lack of maintenance, not to mention the onslaught from the birds themselves, is to get a makeover. The Public Works Department has been asked by Zoo Superintendent T.V. Anil Kumar to submit a revised estimate for the enclosure while taking into account better visibility for visitors. There are also plans for the crocodile and otter enclosures, besides the one for the Indian bison.
When the zoo does welcome the jaguar, it will need a new enclosure for the animal in keeping with the master plan.
Work on the aquatic aviary is expected to be finished by Onam.  
Another important initiative is greening of the enclosures. “A number of enclosures look barren. The idea is to have lots of plants and trees to mimic the natural environment of animals,” zoo officials said.

Lions showered with sisterly love!

RAJKOT: In a unique symbolic gesture to send out a message of lion conservation, hundreds of women from the state sent out 'rakhis' for Asiatic lions in Sasan Gir on Rakshabandhan!

The scenes at the office of deputy conservator of forests in Sasan were heartening as people applied the traditional tilak on a lion poster, performed the 'aarti' and prayed for the protection of Gujarat's pride.

The forest department had launched this unique programme to bring people closer to lion conservation. They had invited rakhis from school girls and women from the across the state for the lions. Officials said the programme got an overwhelming response as they received large number of rakhis through posts.

"This year, we decided to celebrate Rakshabandhan in a unique way and appealed to school girls and women from across the state to send rakhis for their beloved Asiatic lions. People in Gujarat are emotionally attached to the Asiatic lions and their role in the conservation has been remarkable," Ram Ratan Nala, deputy conservator of forests, wildlife division, Sasan-Gir, told TOI.

The rakhis will now be tied to the cages at Sasan-Gir rescue centre, said Nala.

Nala said the women can send in rakhis at the deputy conservator's office, wildlife division at Sasan-Gir village till August 31.

"This is an attempt to bring people closer to lion conservation in the state and it will go a long way in their protection," Nala added.

Top Comment

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Azam Khan tied Rakhis to their Buffaloes.Mark Quinn

Earlier, on the occasion of World Lion Day on August 10, nearly 4 lakh people from 1,500 villages across Saurashtra had taken out rallies in support of lion conservation.

According to the latest census, there are 523 lions which are spread across Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts of the Saurashtra region.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lion cubs the mane event

The cubs made history at Wildlife Park as the first ever triplets born in its forty-six year history. Picture: Natasha Jefferies

A cubs plays with its mother. Picture: Natasha Jefferies

They are picture purr-fect and oh so cute — lion cub triplets born at a wildlife park in Britain.
It was the first litter for rare Asiatic lions Rana and Kanha, who reside at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire.
The three female cubs — Kali, Sita and Sonika — were shown off to the public for the first time at the weekend.
The cubs immediately took to their surroundings, exploring the grassy slopes and nuzzling up to their mother Kanha.
It was also the first time they had met their father Rana and they took full advantage to practise their roars, which came out as high-pitched yelps.
The cubs were the first lion triplets born at the park in its 46-year history.
Asiatic lions, also known as Indian lions or Persian lions, are a small subspecies that live in western India.
As of last year, there were just 523 Asiatic lions in the wild.

Kuno sanctuary can support 40 lions, says expert report

dna Correspondent | Tue, 16 Aug 2016-06:55am , New Delhi , dna
The WII's is carrying out a longer study on the Kuno habitat to assess the status of prey, predators, disease prevalence among carnivore communties, human impacts and people's perceptions to lion reintroduction.
Even as the ministry of environment and forest drags its feet on translocating lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, a Wildlife Institute of India report has said that the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in MP has the potential to support about 40 lions. Bhopal based wildlife activist Ajay Dube, who has been campaigning for translocation of the lions, obtained the report under Right to Information Act. Dna has reviewed copies of the documents.
The WII's is carrying out a longer study on the Kuno habitat to assess the status of prey, predators, disease prevalence among carnivore communties, human impacts and people's perceptions to lion reintroduction. The study is as per directives of the Supreme Court, which in April 2013, order translocation of lions. The SC's order though was challenged by Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot.
The WII's report to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change said that even as they were carrying out a long-tern study, "Lion reintroduction within the sanctuary part of Kuno (345 should not wait for the completion of the current study since earlier ecological assessments by WII had already validated the potential of that area to support about 40 lions."
The report goes on to add, "The current study in concurrence with the lion reintroduction exercises would serve as a benchmark for post-release long-term monitoring of lions, prey and other predators and would be mostly helpful in quantifying social and ecological status of landscape outside the sanctuary boundary which lions are likely to explore once the population reaches its carrying capacity of 40 lions inside the sanctuary after about 15 years."
The translocation of the world's only thriving Asiatic Lion population from Gir national park in Saurashtra to Kuno in MP has been at the centre of a raging debate.

Pride of Gujarat

Gujarat, throughout Narendra Modi's tenure as Chief Minister, made it clear that it was not willing to part the lions, which is the symbol of Gujarati asmita (pride) and is firm on this stand. Wildlife biologists and activists on the other hand have stressed despite the fledgling population, Gir is an island for lions and reintroducing them in a new habitat will aid long-term conservation. Last year, stormy rainfall and ensuing floods killed 10 lions and hundreds of ungulates such as Nilgai.

Poaching threat to lions outside Gir, warns IUCN

| TNN |
AHMEDABAD: Stating that the lion population outside the protected area of Gir Sanctuary has increased by around 400%, the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its latest report for the year 2016 has raised an alarm that lions in Gujarat are under threat of illegal trade in body parts similar to that of their counterparts in Africa.

The IUCN in its report states that "Asia is home to a single contiguous sub-population in the Indian state of Gujarat. While the population has stabilized inside the Gir reserve, the socalled 'satellite population' in the surrounding countryside has expanded by over 400% in the past 21 years."

On the other hand, the report points out that "lion population in Africa is inferred to have undergone a reduction of approximately 43% over the past 21 years (approximately three lion generations, 1993-2014)". Forest minister Ganpat Vasava said the department will study the IUCN report in depth. "We will initiate whatever action is best needed for conservation of Asiatic lions which are the pride of Gujarat."

The Asiatic lion census in 2015 had shown that there are around 523 lions in Gujarat of which over 168 lions have moved out in un protected parts of Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir-Somnath, Rajkot and Junagadh districts.

Their actual number is said to be much hig her than the cen sus count. The 1990 census had revealed only 284 lions in Gir and nearby areas, of which around 250 were in the Gir Sanctuary.

The IUCN report states that "illegal trade in lion body parts for medicinal purposes is considered a threat to African lion sub-populations as well as to the small sub-population in India's Gir forest". The apex conservation body has stated that there is a need for Africa, India and other countries to prohibit trade in lion bones and other parts and products.

CID (crime) investigations into the case of poaching of the eight lions in Saurashtra in 2007 had revealed that the poachers gang from Madhya Pradesh had killed lions for selling skin and bones. Lions have become targets of poachers as the tiger population is falling. Body parts of lions and tigers are in great demand in China. There have, however, been no known cases of lion poaching in Gujarat in the last 10 years.

Whose lion is it anyway? 23 years into plan, not one Gir lion shifted to MP

Shailendra Tiwari @shailendra_mona | First published: 13 August 2016, 9:19 IST
On paper, the process of bringing Asiatic lions from the Gir forest in Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh has been continuing for 23 years now. But, till date, not a single lion has been shifted.
This is despite the fact that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency for this transfer.
According to the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Anil Madhav Dave, the MP government has made no such request. The state government, on its part, claims the latest reminder for the transfer of lions was sent as late as May 2016.

Replying to a query, Dave had recently told Parliament that the Madhya Pradesh government had never asked for lions in the first place. However, it is important to note that Dave's own ministry had started the process of shifting lions to the state.

History of the plan

The MoEF had started looking for a new abode for the lions of Gir in 1993. Documents accessed by Patrika prove that the ministry wanted to shift some of the lions from Gir to the Kuno wildlife sanctuary in MP.
According to these documents, the Wild Life Institute of India had initiated a detailed research on the future of the Gir lions in 1986. The purpose of this study was to suggest measures for long-term conservation of the lions.
The idea of shifting Asiatic lions from their only abode in the Gir forest to MP emanated from this research.
In October 1993, the findings of the research were made public in Vadodara. It suggested three new locations for the lions, namely the Darrah-Jawahar Sagar and Sitamata sanctuaries in Rajasthan, and MP's Kuno wildlife reserve.
An expert committee, comprising famous scientists Ravi Chellam and Justus Joshua, among others, studied the climate of these three places and found Kuno to be the most appropriate habitat for the lions.
On 24 July 1996, the then-Madhya Pradesh forest secretary wrote a letter to the MoEF, asking to notify the Kuno sanctuary area as a habitat for lions. The Central government took four years to give its nod. A 20-year work plan was chalked out for the relocation of the lions.
As per the work plan, all the technical issues like area notification were to be sorted out in the time period between 1995-2000. The actual shifting of the lions, their research and monitoring were to take place from the year 2000 to 2005.
On 10 March 2004, the Central government constituted a high-power committee to complete this task in a time bound manner.
Yet, the relocation has not even begun, as of now.
"The ministry, which is acting as a nodal agency in this matter, is now asking who has asked for the lions. It is laughable," says social activist Ajay Dubey.
Ravi Shrivastava, Madhya Pradesh's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life), sent a reminder to the Union Ministry on 12 May 12.
Pointing out that 10 Asiatic lions had died in the Gir forest in July 2015 because of floods, the PCCF stressed on the urgent need to shift the lions to Madhya Pradesh.

The timeline

1986: The Wild Life Institute of India begins its research on the life and future of the Gir lions.
1993: Consensus emerges on finding an alternative habitat for lions. Two sanctuaries in Rajasthan and one in MP are shortlisted, of which MP's Kuno is finalised as the alternate location.
1995: Madhya Pradesh asks the Centre for the notification of the Kuno sanctuary as a lion habitat.
1996: The MP government sends its proposal to the Central government.
2000: The Central government notifies the Kuno sanctuary as a lion habitat
2004: The Union government forms a high-power committee for the monitoring of the relocation process.
2005: The deadline for relocation of lions passes.
2016: Union Minister of State MoEF Anil Madhav Dave says in Parliament that the MP govt never asked for the lions in the first place.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma

The need to increase public awareness about preservation of fauna

By Jamshid Parchizadeh August 10, 2016

Nowadays specific symbolic days are celebrated in order to increase the awareness of the public to preserve animal species across the globe. In this article, I am going to describe briefly the importance of these symbolic days for the conservation of fauna.

Let us take the August 10, “World Lion Day,” as an example. Lions are found only in Africa, (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), and India in Asia. Every year those who are interested in conserving lions celebrate “World Lion Day” to increase awareness about the necessity of conserving the “king of the jungle.” Unfortunately, the number of lions is decreasing each minute, and as such they need to be conserved.
The Persian lion (scientific name: Panthera leo persica – common name: Asiatic lion) has always been a symbol of greatness, strength, and courage for Iranians, and that is why we can see the symbolic Persian lions on the walls of ancient monuments, porcelain, coins, handmade carpets, jewelry, stamps, and even architecture in Iran. This subspecies was first seen in Persia in 1826 by an Austrian zoologist, Johann N. Meyer, and therefore the scientific name of Felis leo persicus was selected. However, the scientific name was changed to Panthera leo persica afterwards.
The Persian lion was once distributed across the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, northern Greece, Turkey, and Iran to the Indian subcontinent, including the present-day Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. In Iran, the Persian lion was distributed across the forests around the Karkheh, the Dez, and the Karoon Rivers as well as Masjed Soleyman and Ramhormoz in Khuzestan, Bushehr, and Kazeroon and Dasht-e Arzhan in Fars.
The Persian lion’s habitat in Iran used to be grasslands, marshlands, brush, woodlands, and plains close to the waters. Deer, wild boar, Persian zebra and Persian fallow deer were the main prey of the Persian lion. Most unfortunately, this subspecies became extinct in Iran in 1942 due to habitat loss, prey loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. It turned into an eternal myth in Iran. Today, there are only 523 individuals in the Gir Forest National Park, Gujarat State, India.
It is vital to increase the awareness of the public in order to conserve the animal species of our planet. Most unfortunately, not only the Persian lion is being forgotten in Iran, but also the attention towards other animal species is decreasing every day. Most Iranians do not care for fauna, and the Department of the Environment (DoE), which is in charge of preserving Iran’s flora and fauna, has focused only on the conservation of the Asiatic cheetahs. However, the DoE has been even unsuccessful in conserving cheetahs as they get killed repeatedly by poachers or in car accidents, etc.
It is indeed necessary to pay attention to all animal species instead of paying attention to only one. No one wishes that brown bears, Asiatic black bears, Persian leopards, Asiatic cheetahs, etc. go extinct in Iran. Thus, celebrating symbolic days such as “World Lion Day,” which is missing from Iran’s calendar, could be a great boost to increase public awareness about the conservation of Iran’s fauna. That is the task that falls to the DoE.
Hence, I would like to bring this important issue to the attention of the authorities in charge. Please use the public’s power to preserve Iran’s fauna. Fauna do not only belong to the current generation. They also belong to the future generations, and as such they are to be preserved at any cost.