Thursday, October 30, 2014

Akhilesh battles leonine challenge.

Lucknow: If Vishnu and Lakshmi pull through this crisis, it would be because some men had proposed — and determined — that they should live.



For those who believe man is the master of this universe, Vishnu and Lakshmi are no gods but a lion and lioness taken ill at a breeding centre in Uttar Pradesh. Nobody, not even veterinary experts, can tell what the two are suffering from.

Both have symptoms of paralysis, but it’s not only their distressed roar that is ringing in chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s ears. It’s the barbed words of another man that has hit him hard too.

The Asiatic lions — under treatment for over a month now — are of the same breed as six lions that the Gujarat government, then headed by Narendra Modi, had gifted to Uttar Pradesh in 2012.

Earlier this year, Modi had taken a dig at Akhilesh for caging the lions when they should have been roaming at a safari park coming up in the Samajwadi leader’s home district Etawah. The park is not ready yet, so the two lions had been kept in Kanpur zoo for over a year before being moved to the breeding centre with the six others, where they fell ill.

The state government has now sought help from London’s Zoo Society and the Born Free Foundation, UK, named after the 1966 film Born Free, where a lioness, Elsa, is reintroduced to the wild.

Sources said Modi’s comments had made Akhilesh wild too. “Your chief minister asked for lions from me,” Modi had told a rally in Bareilly ahead of the summer national elections. “We gave his government lions. We had hoped his officials would demonstrate some boldness in running the government after seeing the lions. But they could not handle the Gujarat lions. The lions had to be caged.”

That wasn’t all. India’s future Prime Minister then went on to invite Akhilesh’s father, Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, to visit Gir “to see how lions roam freely”.

That was in April, when the two lions — brought from Hyderabad Zoo, which had got them from Gir forest in Gujarat — were still in the Kanpur zoo. Akhilesh had hit back, saying the comment was uncalled for as the lions had been gifted as a “political courtesy”.

Then, in September, the lions fell ill.

Official sources said the challenge for the state government now was not only to save the two but also its image. They said Akhilesh, who last week visited the safari park — being built on the lines of Britain’s Longleat Safari and Adventure Park — instructed wildlife officials to take help from international experts.

“We have interacted with experts from the Born Free Foundation and sent the medical reports of the lions. We are in touch with the Zoo Society too. It is a big challenge to save the two and we have gone all out,” Rupak De, chief wildlife warden, Uttar Pradesh, told The Telegraph today.

“The two cannot move, their appetite is decreasing. What they are actually suffering from is not known. The symptoms are that of paralysis and viral infection. We have consulted all the leading vets in the country, including those from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly. As a last resort, we have approached the Born Free Foundation.”

Etawah Lion Safari director K.K. Singh said the two, “now inmates of a captivity centre at Etawah, have been segregated”.

Some veterinary experts said inbreeding within fragmented lion populations could be to blame for the illness.

- The Telegraph, Calcutta

High air fares force Amdavadis to hit road this Diwali.

 

AHMEDABAD: As the Diwali weekend approaches, air fares are touching new highs. With plane seats getting fewer or almost booked, Amdavadis are planning to take road trips to nearby locations to beat the out of reach air travel. The fares for regular as well as holiday destinations are almost 10-12 times higher over the Diwali weekend than what they are otherwise. This has forced people to take short road trips with their families to destinations such as Mount Abu, Gir-Somnath, Diu and Udaipur among others.

"Like in the US where families go for short trips over the weekend, people here too are taking that route to make the most of the holidays. It is not only cheaper, but one also gets to explore different areas and families spend more time together," said Manish Sharma, city-based tour operator.

Destinations like Gir-Somnath-Diu and Mount Abu-Udaipur are being preferred the most by Amdavadis for 5-day weekend starting Thursday. "Every year, I along with my family go for holidays once we are done with Lakshmi Puja on Diwali. This year I am going to Pavagadh and Saputara. Some of my friends have opted for nearby destinations in Rajasthan," said Deven Patel, businessman.
"All the hotels in the city, especially 3-star and above are almost booked. More than 60% of the crowd that will be coming here is from Gujarat only," said Sanjay Singhal, a hotelier in Mount Abu.

With Gir forest also opening up, many people are taking wildlife tours coupled with trip to Somnath temple and Diu.

Some people who were unable to get bookings in hotels have rented out farm houses for 5-6 days. "I am going with my extended family to Mount Abu and also taking my cook along with me. We have booked a farm house so that the whole family can stay together and have some great time," said Harshil Patel, a businessman.

Mother's pride as cub joins zoo baby boom.

Wayne O'Connor

Published 23/10/2014 | 02:30
The new lion explores the lion enclosure at Dublin Zoo
The new lion explores the lion enclosure at Dublin Zoo
DUBLIN Zoo's baby boom has continued - with the latest member of its lion pride being unveiled.
The cub made her first public appearance yesterday alongside her mum Sita, after she was born in August.
The as yet unnamed Asian lion is considered significant to an international breeding programme for the endangered species.
Currently, there are only 350 Asian lions in the wild - all of which live in the Gir Forest in India.
This new arrival is the second female cub to be delivered at the zoo this year after another, Kuno, arrived there in May. A male cub was also born there in August.
Team leader at Dublin Zoo Ciaran McMahon said the new addition is doing well.
"At two months old, she now weighs an estimated 6kg and has developed a strong bond with mum Sita," he said. "We are excited to see how the relationship between the female cub and Kuno develops."
The zoo is inviting the public to help name the new arrival. Suggestions can be submitted through its Facebook page.
The lion is the ninth arrival at the zoo since May - following a Rothschild giraffe, a Goeldi's monkey, two meerkat pups, three elephants and a zebra foal.
Sita came to Dublin from Mulhouse Zoo in France in 2012 as part of the lion breeding programme, while "experienced father" Kuman came from a zoo in Rotterdam last year.
Mr McMahon said: "These lions are endangered and it is of great conservation importance that zoos maintain a viable population of Asian lions."
Irish Independent

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/mothers-pride-as-cub-joins-zoo-baby-boom-30686347.html

Forest department orders study of fluorosis among lions.


AHMEDABAD: Gujarat forest department has taken up a study on fluorosis among the lions in Lathi Liliya area. Anand Veterinary Institute has been entrusted with the task. The department decided to take up the study following a finding by two doctors, Dr Jalpan Rupara and Dr Purvesh Kacha.


The doctors in their report, "Ecology of Lions in Greater Gir Landscape," had cited ailments plaguing humans and lions alike. The report revealed that in Amreli, a region with contaminated ground water, both humans and lions seem to be victims of fluorosis — a disease characterized by tooth decay and deterioration of bones and joints due to high content of fluoride in ground water.

Forest officials said that after the issue was highlighted, the department decided to carry out a study of the fluorosis in the area. The officials said that the lions are being supplied with water through tankers. "We are examining post-mortem reports of the deaths from the area, monitoring the decaying of bones and scrutinizing the number of teeth found on dead lions."

"In case of lions, the water is supplied through tankers and no underground water is being used. If the study concludes that the lions are suffering from fluorosis, a management plan will be drawn up," said C N Pandey, chief wildlife warden.

The doctors undertook the study in 250 sq km of Lathi Liliya area having a population of 40 lions, which threw up surprising findings.

"Out of eight lions studied, tooth decay was found in three. One lion has lost all but two of the 26 teeth, second has lost four and third has lost three. These lions were not reported to have met any accidents. This is intriguing as lions are not recorded to lose teeth in their lifetime. Minor deformities in bones were also recorded," said Dr Jalpan Rupara, a radiologist.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Forest-department-orders-study-of-fluorosis-among-lions/articleshow/44881986.cms

TUI India to focus more on tier-II, III cities.

Tour operator TUI India sees greater business opportunity in tier-2 and tier-3 cities in the country. The company plans to increase its presence from current six to 15 stores by the end of next year, informed a top company official here.
Speaking at the launch of its Ahmedabad store, Vishal Sinha, Chief Operating Officer, TUI India said, “Gujarat is currently one of the fastest developing states of our country and we have seen a rise in the number of Gujaratis travelling abroad for their holidays. Research has shown that over 30 per cent of Indian tourists are Gujaratis.”
The company, an Indian arm of international leisure travel group, TUI Travel PLC will also focus on local tourism. “About 30 per cent of our business comes from domestic travel. And with states focusing more on developing their local tourism spots, we see this business to grow more,” Sinha told BusinessLine. He mentioned that India’s outbound tourism is expected to witness a jump in summers with tourists’ traffic likely to increase by about 15 to 20 per cent.
Encouraged by Gujarat government’s travel promotion under Khusbu Gujarat ki, several tourist spots are set to emerge as short-trip holiday destinations. “We are developing packages for domestic travel of Rann of Kutch and blackbuck sanctuary for travel packages.” Within India TUI offers tour packages in Kashmir, Rajasthan and Kerala besides Gujarat.
Interestingly, a study conducted by trade body, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) recently revealed that tourist spots in Gujarat and Rajasthan like Ambaji temple, Gir forest, Kutch, Udaipur and Mount Abu besides Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli are being preferred as a getaway destinations. Working couples from cities are increasingly flocking to such destinations for a quick holiday.
TUI, which started Indian operations in 2006 is also eyeing travellers from India rushing for abroad trip. Quoting an industry report, Sinha mentioned that India has emerged as the world's fastest-growing outbound market and in absolute numbers it is second only to China. “The number of Indians travelling overseas is set to rise from around 15 million today to 50 million by 2020. It states that 67 per cent of outbound travellers are from Western India, mainly Gujarat and Maharashtra,” he said.
Correction: The percentage share of TUI India's business from domestic travel has been changed from 70 per cent to 30 per cent
(This article was published on October 10, 2014)

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/tui-india-to-focus-more-on-tieriiiii-cities/article6489188.ece

Narendra Modi appealed to send Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh.


BHOPAL: Prime Minister Narendra has been appealed to send Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh in compliance of the Supreme Court order.

In a letter faxed to Modi, a day before his scheduled visit at Indore for inaugural session of Global Investors Summit (GIS), wildlife activist Ajay Dubey said that Madhya Pradesh government will take care of lions like they had been taking care of families who migrated from Kutch (Gujarat) and settled around Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Sheopur district.

"Forest department has given land rights to the Kutch migrants. Gir lions will also get the best care here," said Dubey adding that Supreme Court has already dismissed Gujarat government's curative petition against shifting Gir lions to Kuno in Madhya Pradesh and there is no other option other than shifting it.

The Gujarat government under Modi opposed the transfer tooth and nail in an eight-year legal battle.

Recently, three-judge bench headed by CJI R M Lodha rejected the curative petition filed by Gujarat government against apex court's April 15, 2013, verdict allowing shifting of lions from Gir to Kuno.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/Narendra-Modi-appealed-to-send-Gir-lions-to-Madhya-Pradesh/articleshow/44717872.cms

London Zoo Is Building A New Home For Lions.

All images (c) ZSL
London Zoo is building a new, £5.2million lion exhibit, with the aim of breeding extremely endangered Asiatic lions.
Land of the Lions is set to open in Spring 2016, and at 2,500sqm, the lions’ den will be more than five times the size of the current lion space at the zoo.
Although we reckon captivity isn’t exactly comparable to being in the wild, ZSL says zookeepers and conservationists have been heavily involved in planning the exhibit, “to ensure that the welfare and needs of the animals are at the forefront of the design”.
The new design will feature a mock Indian village and enable visitors to get up close to the big cats. The aim is to highlight the often fraught relationship between humans and lions in the wild, as the animals’ natural habitat is moved into by humans.
It’s all part of ZSL’s ongoing Lions400 campaign, a conservation project which aims to protect the Asiatic lion species. Only 400 remain in the wild, in a small section of the Gir Forest in India, with poaching and disease posing a major threat to the survival of the species.
In advance of the building work, Lucifer, the zoo’s male lion, was moved to a new home at Paignton Zoo earlier in the year:

http://londonist.com/2014/10/london-zoo-is-building-a-new-home-for-lions.php

African Lions knocking on the Door of Extinction.

African Lions knocking on the Door of Extinction
On Monday, the US Fish and Wildlife service revealed that African lions are facing threat of extinction and may be wiped out soon. The department has recommended listing the African lion under endangered species act to give maximum protection.
A new rule has also been proposed by the state department to save the African lion. If the rule gets approved, selling products related to hunting of lions in United States without prior permit will be a criminal activity. The rule is not applied to zoos.
In the United States, sports hunting is very popular and the hunters import the lions killed in Africa as trophies, according to a report. The report also states that sports personnel from the US hunt maximum lions, elephants and rhinoceros in Africa.


The reason behind the decline in population of African lion is the loss of habitat, human conflict and poaching. In 1980, the population of African lion in Africa was recorded to be more than 76,000 and now it has reduced to 30,000.
Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dan Ashe, said that the population of lion is decreasing. If no urgent action is taken, they will become endangered in the foreseeable future.
"It is up to all of us, not just the people of Africa, to ensure that healthy, wild populations continue to roam the savannah for generations to come", he added.
According to Ashe, African lions are normally violent than Asiatic lions and measure 4.5 to 6.5 feet in length and the length of the tail is measured to be 20 to 40 inches long.
By listing a species as endangered, the service said that it could provide benefits mainly by prohibiting activities including import, export, interstate commerce, commercial activity, and foreign commerce.

http://uncovermichigan.com/content/21656-african-lions-knocking-door-extinction