Friday, July 31, 2015

Seven reasons to love lions.

Very intresting article.


Opinion: Should we be glad that Cecil the lion is dead?

Date 30.07.2015
Author Sonya Angelica Diehn

The killing of a well-known wild lion in Zimbabwe by a US dentist and amateur trophy hunter has spread rapidly on the Internet and sparked the public's ire. But can this have any lasting impact?
Cecil the lion is dead.
When I first heard the news - on Tuesday - I thought: Another rare and beautiful animal, killed for no good reason.
There was a smattering of news about it. And then, the floodgates really opened. I watched as the topic went viral: first on Twitter and Facebook, then across other media. The story was suddenly everywhere - and everyone seemed to have an opinion about it.
And I thought to myself: So now suddenly everybody cares about lions? The news that 10 lions died the week before during monsoon flooding in India's Gujarat didn't make the headlines. Since there are only around 500 Asiatic lions left in the world, that's a big hit.
But the Cecil story, of course, is much more palatable than some abstract, deadly weather pattern that may or may not have to do with climate change.
Cecil, it turns out, was something of a wildlife celebrity. He had strutted his stuff in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, showing off his pride for safari-goers and researchers, for 13 years.
Lion in Africa Perhaps people care too little about the intrinsic value of all that is wild and free
The rest of the story unfolded gradually. First, he went missing. Then, his skinned and decapitated body was recovered - just outside the national park boundaries.
But the whole world seemed to sit up and pay attention when it emerged that a dentist from Minnesota had paid $55,000 to hunt Cecil down as a trophy.
It's alleged that with the assistance of two local guides, the American lured Cecil away from the park - where it would have been illegal to kill him - to first wound the big cat with a bow and arrow, then finish him off nearly two days later with a gun.
Horrific killing, suspicious circumstances, greed and hubris - it has the makings of a riveting murder mystery. But it seems the twist that money was involved, along with an apparent power struggle between the global North and the global South, have "made the story."

Lion-killing dentist becomes online prey

Yet like all other viral news, this will gradually fade from the public eye.
Hunting and poaching, however, will not fade away. In fact, poaching on a global scale is growing, placing entire species at risk of extinction. Like some say: Extinction is forever.
But the fact is, hunting and poaching are big business. Trophy hunting is a multi-million-dollar racket, operating in the grey shadow between state-sponsored permits and illegal smuggling. And poaching, though often conceived of as a crime of the poor, is usually perpetrated by large and extremely well-armed organized crime networks.
Poaching fulfills demand for animals and animal parts, often in parts of the world very far from the last shreds of wild habitat on Earth whence the animals came.
The result of both, however, is the same: The death of innumerable wild creatures - great and small - for human entertainment or some subjectively perceived benefit.
Cecil's killing has shined a spotlight on how disgusting this can be.
But will it matter?
Environment Team Leader Sonya Angelica Diehn at DW Sonya Angelica Diehn heads DW's environment desk
Poaching continues to be driven by demand - and so, until the people who want to do things like use rhino horns to try and get an erection finally realize that's a big waste, the illegal wildlife trade will continue.
Aside from education, legislation can be an effective tool against poaching - if it is enforced. Unfortunately - as is the case so often with environmental crimes - the political will to pass and impleement laws against poaching and illegal hunting is lacking.
Cecil's death could result in a push to tighten these laws. Public awareness of the problem of poaching and illegal hunting, aside from having an educational effect, is also an important element in generating the public pressure that can stimulate political will.
So, in one sense, the fact that this happened and has gained so much attention is a good thing. In death, Cecil can continue his celebrity status as something of a trophy hunting martyr.
But if we just continue to be a bunch of hypocrites who only care about lions when some rich dentist shoots a famous one to hang on his wall, Cecil's death will have been in vain.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rasila Vadher: The woman who rescued the leopard.

Rasila Vadher: The woman who rescued the leopard
Since her enrolment in the forest department in 2008, Rasila Vadher has taken part in over 800 rescues in and around Gir.
Vadher’s skills in handling individual animals in tricky situations have helped in mitigating human-wildlife conflict in villages around Sasan Gir
Ananda Banerjee
One balmy morning in March 2013, residents of Jalandhar village in Junagadh, Gujarat, woke up to a commotion around an under-construction well. In the night, a leopard had fallen into the well.
The village we are talking about lies on the periphery of the Gir National Park, recognized as the last abode of the Asiatic Lion. People living here are used to spotting big cats in their backyards. In this case, like many others, the crowd around the well kept increasing and everyone was talking about the fate of the leopard.
The wildlife rescue team from the forest department was quick to respond, but then there was the question of who would go down the narrow shaft of the well. Rasila P. Vadher, 29, the only woman in the rescue and rehabilitation team of the forest department in Gir, volunteered.
“The leopard had fallen to a depth of about 40-50 feet. There was very little light inside and space to manoeuvre for tranquilising the animal,” says Vadher.
A parrot cage, a specially designed metal cage in the shape of a traditional bird cage used by the forest department for rescue operations, was brought in for the job. These types of cages are built to accommodate a human being and Vadher snugly fitted into it; slowly and steadily she was lowered into the dark pit. The leopard was by now in a frenzy.
When Vadher was just 10 feet away from the leopard, she fired her dart gun and tranquilised the big cat. After making sure the tranquiliser had taken effect, she got out of the metal cage and secured the animal, which was pulled out. Vadher came the same way she went in. The leopard was then taken back to the national park and released in the wild.
Since her enrolment in the forest department in 2008, Vadher has taken part in over 800 rescues in and around Gir. Rescues from wells, pits, people’s homes, farms and other places—the number includes over 400 leopards, 200 lions, crocodiles, pythons and and birds. But she particularly remembers this particular rescue mission.
Ask Vadher how it feels like to encounter a lion on foot and she calmly replies, “The lion is like a family member, it never attacks; if it doesn’t want you to come closer it will give a warning for you to go away. We understand the mood of the animal by the twitch of the ear or tail. ”
Vadher’s knowledge of different species and her skills in handling individual animals in tricky situations have helped in mitigating human-wildlife conflict in villages around Sasan Gir.
Each rescue mission is a new challenger. Whenever duty calls, Vadher also joins anti-poaching patrols nabbing poachers. She also participates in awareness programmes and nature camps to sensitise villagers living along the periphery of the Gir National Park.
Vadher’s exemplary courage and dedication has been lauded by not only the forest department and locals but also Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. Modi took the initiative to appoint women staff as Van Raksha Sahayaks (forest guards) in 2007, and praised their exemplary role in wildlife conservation.
Vadher grew up in Bhanduri village, Junagadh. After her father’s death, her mother worked as a daily labourer to make ends meet. In spite of the hardships, she saw to it that her two children went to school. Vadher went on to graduate with a first class bachelor’s degree in Hindi, from Saurashtra University. Today she is the only earning member in her family and takes care of her mother and younger brother.
In 2007, Vadher got an opportunity to join the State Reserve Police Force but decided to stick to her job as a forest guard. “Everything in the forest interests me—from the scorpion, trees and birds to the big cats.”
Apart from her duty as a rescue forester, Vadher loves sports and photography. “I love to play chess; I once played at the national level in Goa and came fourth in the competition. I look forward to our department’s annual sports day on 26 January. This year, I participated in long jump, 100-200 metre run, badminton and chess,” says Vadher.
Brij Bihari Sharma, Dev Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Rasila Vadher have been recognized through Hem Chand Mahindra Wildlife Foundation and Saevus Wildlife Warriors Awards, 2014.
This year, seven people will be felicitated with the Wildlife Warrior Awards. They are:
1. Biraj Barman, forester – Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Assam
2. Babu Rathod, forest guard – Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
3. Pan Singh Gaunia, watcher – Nandhour Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttarakhand
4. Mangal Kachhap, ranger – Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, Jharkhand
5. Kauleshar Bhagat, forest guard – Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, Jharkhand
6. Joint award to: Atulkumar Bhanusankar Dave – (range forest officer) & Isha Hasan Sumra (watchman) of Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat.
This is the second blog in a two-part series profiling two of the winners of Wildlife Warriors 2014 awards, this year’s edition of which will be presented on Monday at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai. The awards have been instituted to honour the foot soldiers of India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Akhilesh Yadav’s office watches, officials sweat as UP lion safari nurses cub, hopes.

The cub struggling for life was born to Girishma. It has been separated from its mother, and is being fed goat milk.

elephant safari in Etawah, Etawah safari, animal safari in Etawah, Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lion Safari, Cubs death, lioness Girishma, Lion Safari project, Girishma cubs death, Etawah animal safari, UP zoo authority, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, UP CM, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, UP news, India news, Indian express Mulayam’s pet project has so far lost all cubs born here.

Etawah Updated: Jul 27, 2015, 7:38
Etawah Updated: Jul 27, 2015, 7:38
The lions sleep tonight. Four days after two cubs died at the Etawah Lion Safari, taking the toll to six in nine months, it has gone into lockdown mode.
Chief Wildlife Warden Rupaq De, Director, Lion Safari, K K Singh and other senior officials have locked themselves inside, trying to figure out the problem, all entry has been banned, and among those closely watching the CCTV footage for clues is the Chief Minister’s office.
The immediate priority is a four-day-old cub that is fighting for survival.
“Nobody is to be allowed inside. Upar sey order hai,” says a forest guard at the main gate.

District Magistrate Nitin Bansal said senior forest officials are not talking to the media.
The safari is a pet project of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is a regular visitor, though the 350-hectare enclosure (with the safari area 50 hectares), located around 240 km from Lucknow, hasn’t yet been thrown open to public. He last visited on June 26. Currently abroad, Akhilesh is said to be in touch with the officials concerned.
Experts working on saving the cub include two from Gujarat — Dr R S Kadiwal and keeper Saleem. They have been brought in after all the other cubs born here so far have died.
The cub struggling for life was born to Girishma. It has been separated from its mother, and is being fed goat milk. Delighting the officials, it has opened its eyes. All depends on how the coming week goes.
Admitting that no one is being allowed in the safari right now, Principal Secretary, Forests, Sanjeev Saran said, “We have got a specialist doctor from Gujarat who is looking after the cub. We are trying hard and we are trying our best.”
Four pairs of Asiatic lions had been brought to the safari between April and September 2014. The first to die were the pair brought from Hyderabad — Lakshmi on October 30, 2014, followed by Vishnu on November 16. Then, on July 18 this year, two cubs of lioness Heer died, followed by Girishma’s two four days later.
The three lion pairs remaining — Manan and Kunwari, Heer and Gigo, Girishma and Kuber — are all from Gujarat.
With Heer and Girishma not likely to deliver any time again soon, and Kunwari reportedly hospitalised, the survival of the ailing cub is crucial for the safari. Should it recover, it can be released into the safari only two years later.
That could also hit Mulayam’s plans for a grand opening of the safari, located in his native district, before the 2017 Assembly polls.
Currently, there is a single full-time vet A K Tripathi at the safari, which also plans to host leopards, antelopes, bears etc.
A corpus of Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned, and Akhilesh himself heads one of the three committees set up for the safari’s smooth functioning. As many as 88 posts have been sanctioned, including of four senior forest officers. Search is on for an environmentalist, a biologist and a naturalist.
Sources blamed the “lax attitude” shown towards the lions at the time of delivery for the cubs dying. A safari employee said even the CCTV footage was checked only after three-four hours and no senior forest official was around when the lionesses had the cubs.
Earlier, Lakshmi’s death had been blamed on “multi-organ dysfunction followed by cardiac respiratory failure”. However, sources said both Lakshmi and Vishnu had received injuries during their transportation from Kanpur Zoo, and couldn’t recover due to the lack of a tiger specialist.
Among those who paid a visit to the ailing Lakshmi was Akhilesh. Experts from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly; Veterinary College, Mathura; Sakkarbaug Zoo, Junagadh, Gujarat; Bear Rescue Facility, Agra; and veterinarians from the Zoo Authority of Karnataka were also consulted.
Later, the state government turned to the Zoological Society of London, and Born Free Foundation of the UK. However, Lakshmi and Vishnu could not be saved, and had died within 16 days of each other.
More worryingly for Akhilesh and Mulayam, questions are being raised now over the viability of the project itself, and whether lions can survive in Etawah’s topography. Old gazetteer records show animals like neelgai, panther, fox, sambhar, bear, wolf, hyena, hare etc in Etawah but no mention of Asiatic lions.
However, wildlife experts play down these fears. “There is not much climatic difference between Gujarat and Etawah. Lions can survive in Etawah. The two adults died due to infection last year. We have conducted the postmortem of the four dead cubs and sent their viscera for examination. The report is awaited,” Dr A K Sharma, Incharge, Wildlife Conservation, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, said.
Incidentally, Narendra Modi had used the Gujarat lions sent to Etawah to target the SP during the general elections last year. “Your chief minister was asking us for lions, we gave them lions. We had hoped they may draw some strength from seeing the lions. But they could not handle the Gujarat lions. The lions had to be caged,” Modi had said, while inviting Akhilesh and Mulayam to visit “Gir forests (in Gujarat) and see how the lions roam freely” there.
That bite may have just got teeth.

Another setback for Etawah Lion Safari: Two more cubs die shortly after birth.

In a major setback to Mulayam’s dream project Lion Safari at Etawah, two of the three cubs born to lioness Girishma died within 24 hours of their birth on Wednesday. With this, four cubs have died since Sunday besides the two Asiatic lions — Vishnu and Lakshmi — that lost their lives last year, leaving the officials clueless on how to protect the felines.
On Saturday, lioness Heer had given birth to two cubs but both died in quick succession in the next two days.
Following the deaths on Wednesday, senior Forest officials, including Chief Wildlife Warden Rupaq De, rushed to the Lion Safari and based a camp there to take stock of the situation.
Principal Secretary, Forest, Sanjeev Saran confirmed that senior officials are camping at Etawah. “Doctors have been called in from Gujarat and all efforts are on to save the sole remaining cub,” he said.
Even Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is reportedly keeping a close watch, seeking regular updates from the officials camping at the Safari. These officials did not respond to several attempts made by The Indian Express to contact them, with officials having restricted the entry of media persons inside the Safari until further notice.
The Lion Safari was conceived in 2005 by then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and taken to its current shape by his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Spread over 50 acres of land with another 300 acres being kept as buffer zone, the project has been marred by the consistent deaths, raising serious questions on the infrastructure being used in maintaining the Safari.
At present, the Safari has three pairs of Asiatic lions — Heer and Gigo; Manan and Kunwari; and Girishma and Kuber — with only one surviving cub which was born on Wednesday.
- See more at:

Expanding lion kingdom, shrinking manpower.

Besides keeping tabs on lion’s movement, the beat guard is also supposed to carry out spot investigation of cattle killings by the lions. Officials said that majority of these staffers are from the social forestry division and their main job is planting saplings and saving trees.
AHMEDABAD: Lion census 2015 has pegged that the empire of the king of jungle is spread over 22,000 sq km — 2,000 sq km in Gir sanctuary and the rest outside. Out of 20,000 sq km area that is outside the sanctuary, almost 15,000 sq km is in three districts — Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir Somnath — and there are only 80-odd beat guards to take care of 170-odd lions. Effectively, this comes to one beat guard to keep tabs on lion movements in 200 sq km. This is in sharp contrast to the situation inside the sanctuary where one beat guard monitors lion movements in 700 hectares.

Besides keeping tabs on lion's movement, the beat guard is also supposed to carry out spot investigation of cattle killings by the lions. Officials said that majority of these staffers are from the social forestry division and their main job is planting saplings and saving trees.

S C Pant, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), said, "The state has formed a five-member task force to look into the conservation aspect of the lions outside the sanctuary and based on the report of the task force, the department will take suitable action. However, the first thing that we are planning is to bring the entire lion habitat area in the jurisdiction of the wildlife division from the social forestry division. This will help the department to have more focused approach for conservation of wildlife. We are going to train villagers and van mitras in the villages and even the non-government organizations on how to conserve and track lions in their villages."

H S Singh, a member of the National Board for Wildlife, says, "With the growing density of lions in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath, there is a need for more manpower. For effective conservation, the government should take support of local villagers."

Officials from the forest department said that in Amreli, Gir-Somnath and part of Bhavnagar, there are only 123 sanctioned posts of beat guards and of these 45 are vacant. Two sanctioned posts of assistant conservator of forest are also vacant. According to the officials, one beat guard covers about 26 villages in Amreli.

Experts say that the 123 posts were sanctioned soon after the poaching incident of 2007. Since then, the lion density and lion territory outside the protected forest have increased but the sanctioned post has not increased. May 2010 census revealed that 411 lions were found in an area of 10,000 sq km but according to the latest census, 523 lions were found in an area of 22,000 sq km.

RBI arm adopts two giraffes, lion and tiger at Mysuru zoo.

Mysuru zoo executive director B.P. Ravi handing over a memento to an official of BRBNMPL in front of the giraffe enclosure at the zoo.
Shankar Bennur
Mysuru zoo executive director B.P. Ravi handing over a memento to an official of BRBNMPL in front of the giraffe enclosure at the zoo.
Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Ltd. (BRBNMPL), Mysuru, has displayed its commitment towards wildlife conservation by adopting two giraffes, a lion and a tiger at the Mysuru zoo under the popular animal adoption programme.
Under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, the BRBNMPL adopted the animals for one year by paying the adoption fee of Rs 4 lakh.
The management of Mysuru zoo has thanked the BRBNMPL for its gesture.
“The interest shown by Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Ltd., Mysuru for adopting these large mammals is commendable. Their valuable contribution to this novel scheme will inspire other corporate bodies and charitable institutions for taking part in this animal adoption scheme,” said Chief Conservator of Forests and Executive Director B.P. Ravi.
Adoption certificate
H.S. Thakur Desai, General Manager, B.V. Pagar, Assistant General Manager, and H.L. Puttalinga, Assistant Manager, Welfare, visited the zoo recently and received the adoption certificate after completing the adoption formalities.
The total adoption amount received from April 1, 2015, till this date is Rs.14,21,850 for 120 animals.
The Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Ltd. has assured of renewing the adoption within the coming years.
The zoo also stated that the former cricketer Anil Kumble has renewed his adoption of a giraffe and an Asiatic Lion consecutively for the last four years and the Karnataka Silk Industrial Corporation, Mysuru (KSIC) has also renewed the adoption of a giraffe and an elephant consecutively for the last six years.
Mr. Ravi expressed his gratitude to them for their concern towards the wildlife.
The former cricketer Anil Kumble has renewed his adoption of a giraffe and an Asiatic Lion

2 cubs born in UP CM’s pet project Etawah lion safari.

Agra: After being in news for all the wrong reasons, Etawah lion safari, the UP CM's pet project, has some good news. The Asiatic lioness, Heer, gave birth to two cubs here on Saturday. The safari had witnessed a setback after the death of two lions here last year. The birth of the cubs is also a push for the dwindling number of Asiatic lions, as only 523 of them are left in the country.

Listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) was once widely distributed across southwest Asia.

Divisional forest officer (DFO), Chambal, and in-charge of Etawah lion safari, Anil Patel, said that the lioness delivered two cubs on Saturday noon and they came to know of the births through the CCTV camera placed inside the lion's cage.

"The cubs seem to be healthy as per the CCTV footage. It will take us a day to reveal the gender of the cubs as the lioness would not allow anyone to enter her cage presently," Patel added.

The official said that another lioness, Greeshma, who is also expecting is likely to deliver in a couple of days. After the birth of the cubs, the first phase of lion breeding centre is almost completed.

In April, a team of four doctors from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly, had con-firmed the suc-cess-ful mat-ing of li-ons. Three pairs of Asiatic lions — Manan & Kumari, Kuber & Greeshma, and Heer & Gigo — are living under strict observations of vet and wildlife experts in the Etawah lion safari ever since the mating period that was held in January.

"Kumari, Greeshma and Heer were shifted from their quarantine for five days each in January for a bonding period with their male counterparts Manan, Kuber and Gigo. Greeshma and Heer got pregnant, however, as it was her first attempt, Kumari could not conceive," Patel said.

UP CM Akhilesh Yadav's ambitious lion safari project in his home district, Etawah, suffered a setback following the death of lion Vishnu and lioness Lakshmi, last year. Both died due to cardio respiratory failure caused by multiple organ failure. The dead pair belonged to the Hyderabad zoo and were transported to Allen Forest and Zoological Park in Kanpur before being brought to the lion breeding centre in Etawah. The centre is part of the lion safari spread in about 1,000 acres in Fisher Forest on Etawah-Gwalior road in Etawah district.