Thursday, July 26, 2007

Corbett has highest tiger density: Study.

Amitabh Sinha Posted online: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 0000 hrs

Corbett National Park has been one of the most well-known tiger reserves in the country. A recent study indicates that the park now might also be the area with the highest tiger density in the world.

A survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India across 200 sq km of the reserve yielded a count of 74 tigers — quite a high number for that small an area. Final figures of the countrywide survey are expected in October, and these will confirm whether Corbett indeed has the world's highest tiger density.

Director of the reserve Rajiv Bhartari said that the new distinction poses greater challenges for the Corbett management. “The challenge has grown manifold. Now everyone knows how big the treasure is. It becomes that much more difficult to preserve that treasure,” Bhartari said in a telephonic interview with The Indian Express.

Bhartari said the reason for the good number of tigers in Corbett lay in good conservation efforts over the last 70 years. “We have a long history of good conservation. The staff practise the best traditions of conservation and over the last few years, there has been a marked improvement in the facilities inside the national park,” he said.

He said that the involvement of the local youth in protection efforts and the lower incidences of forest fires in the last few years were some of the areas where the management had made good progress. “Between 2005 and now, the number of forest fires have gone down considerably because of better fire protection measures in the park,” he said. Less forest fires mean better ecosystems, which leads to an increase in the population of tiger preys and helps in better sustenance of tigers.

“We also involved about 200 youth from nearby villages for protection duty. That ensured better protection for the tigers and at the same time made the locals a stakeholder in conservation efforts,” Bhartari said.

Another move that contributed in making Corbett a better tiger habitat was the successful relocation of three villages on the southern boundary of the reserve, Bhartari said. “We had started relocating these three villages in 1994. The relocation of the fourth village is now being done. The real impact of that move is being known only now. The tiger sightings have become more common in that area,” he said.

Bhartari said another challenge was to ensure that the tiger was safe even outside the reserve, and to ensure this, the management was trying to increase patrolling efforts.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Villagers concerned about GPPC project

D P Bhattacharya

Ahmedabad, July 19: VILLAGERS of Rajula taluka of Amreli district have raised concerns over land acquisition and local employment at a public hearing held today. The hearing was jointly organised by Pipavav Power Company Ltd. and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), which are setting up a 1,050-megawatt natural gas power plant at Kovaya village.

Gujarat Pipavav Power Company (GPPC), floated by the GSPC and Pipavav Power Company Ltd., is also the breeding ground for migratory green turtles and peripheral habitat for the Asiatic lion.

The land acquisition order for the project was issued on October 1, 1993 for 125 hectares. Out of the 125 hectares, 114 hectares was under the ownership of 80 farmers, while the rest belonged to the state government.

While the price for the land, according to the acquisition, have already been paid to the farmers, 55 farmers moved Amreli civil court for adequate compensation.

Talking to Newsline, Sudhir Shah, General Manager (Project), GPPC, said that the company has already reached an agreement with the farmers, which has been submitted to the court.

Mahesh Parmar, an environmental activist from Rajula, said, “While the issue of land acquisition was a major concern, the employment to be generated by the plant also caused some uproar.” Parmar also said that as the literacy level of Rajula is quite low, at around 45 per cent, very few locals would be able to benefit from this project as most would not qualify for jobs.


At Vanmahotsav, Modi calls for war against global warming!

Sibte Husain Bukhari

Veraval, July 23:

Global warming and not the heated political scenario was on Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s mind at a public meeting at Veraval on Monday as the State Government launched the 58th Vanmahotsav.

At a function to dedicate the ‘Harihar Van’, a social forest created by Gujarat forest department, Modi said, “In the past, rulers were fighting war for one or another reason, but now it is time to wage a war against global warming.”

Forest, environment and related issues took up most of the chief minister’s speech with not a word on politics.

Linking Somnath, sea and the pilgrimage with nature, Modi in his address said that the State Government is taking all possible steps to provide viable employment to the youths from the fishing communities as a part of its prior announced Rs 11,000-crore Sagarkhedut Vikash Package.

Appealing to people for a “green revolution”, Modi said, “We have made successes in water revolution, and same way we have to be successful on this front too. My Government has planned to create forests in every village,” he said and announced special cash rewards for best-performing Gram Panchayat, Nagarpalika and Corporations towards this cause.

He said his government was planning to celebrate 150th anniversary celebration of 1857 mutiny. “To dedicate to the martyrs of this freedom struggle, social forests will be created in 1,857 villages across the state,” he said and added that September 9 ‘Maha Aarti’ (prayer) will be staged throughout the state.

Modi also recalled the role played by Lord Krishna and K M Munshi in terms of protecting environment and forest. Lord Krishna was the first environmentalist of the known world, he said, and added that “as peoples use water in Somnath temple, the same way water must be sprinkled in this Harihar Van”.

Minister for Forest and Environment, Mangu Patel in his address pointed out that through these drives of social forestry, the percentage of area under green cover has gone up over the years in the state. He also stated that from August 6 next, 1.35 crore plants will be distributed across 16,400 villages.

The target is enhance the rate of afforestation to as much as 22 percent, said a release.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Exclusive space for tigers soon

22 Jul 2007

Nitin Sethi, TNN

NEW DELHI: A new rehabilitation package for people to be relocated from tiger reserves and the guidelines for government to declare 'inviolate areas' — an exclusive area for the tigers free of human presence — are on the anvil.

They will be hammered out at a two-day meeting organised by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) at Dehradun with the field directors of the 28 existing tiger reserves and the eight new ones proposed.

NTCA has prepared the first draft guidelines for deciding what constitutes an 'inviolate area' as well as a draft proposal for relocation of people who could get displaced by the declaration of such spaces.

The government has been keen to find a better rehabilitation package with much of earlier resettlement attempts failing miserably and creating friction between the local populace and the forest department. But this time, it will have to demarcate 'inviolate spaces' keeping in mind the recent amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act which makes a scientific demarcation of such spaces as mandatory before any further relocation is undertaken.

Besides these two draft reports, the meeting will also finalise the proposal for creation of a Tiger Protection Force, comprising ex-servicemen and people living around the tiger reserves.

It will also go through the draft eco-tourism guidelines, which are bound to become a big issue as the field directors of the tiger reserves and NTCA in a previous meeting had recommended that a percentage of the revenues from tour operators and hotels that depend upon tiger tourism be routed to conservation and supporting villagers that get relocated.

Besides these, the agenda also includes discussion on an economic rehabilitation package for hunting and other key tribes, who have often been blamed for playing the role of the last link in the poaching chain, very often for lack of alternative livelihood opportunities.

The meeting comes in the wake of the PM's recent review of tiger conservation status in the country and implementation of the Tiger Task Force and just before the crucial meeting of the National Wildlife Board of India, which is chaired by the PM.

The areas requiring additional funding, relocation and rehab of hunting tribes will need to be taken through further government channels for final approval.

The Union government is keen to also test the idea of signing MoUs with the state governments for implementation of the tiger conservation agenda, with states still showing little progress in following up on mandatory requirements under the recent amendments of the Wildlife Protection Act which requires them to, besides other things, demarcate the core and buffer areas of the declared tiger reserves and shore up protection.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Asiatic lions - victims of Indian federalism.

State Pulse: Gujarat: Asiatic lions - victims of Indian federalism
The state machinery has failed to protect lions - from being poached, from falling into open wells and from getting mixed up with resident cattle, sometimes infected- Proloy Bagchi

There has been widespread outrage among wildlife conservationists at the death of around eighteen Asiatic lions since January 2007 in Gir Sanctuary. More than a dozen perished since March alone. The last death occurred around 10th May. As many as eight of them were poached, four got drowned in parapet-less wells dug by villagers living inside the park and three died of natural causes. A gang of poachers, which until recently used to poach tigers to feed the expanding Chinese market for tiger-parts, has since been nabbed. Having more or less cleaned up most of the tiger reserves where the tiger-counts have registered drastic falls, they have now turned their attention to lions. Circumstantial evidence suggested complicity of some of the foresters in the killings.

Alarm bells seemed to have rung in Gujarat as no less a personage than Narendra Modi himself descended on Gir for on-the-spot enquiries. Obviously, poachers hit the state where it hurts. After all, just about a year back Gujarati wildlife officials had successfully fended off a move by the MoEF at the highest level for relocation of a few lions to Kuno-Palpur in Madhya Pradesh - a reserve long since readied but has had an interminably long wait for them. Modi promptly announced a Rs. 40 crore "Lion protection project" for, inter alia, recruiting 300 "knowledgeable" guards and installation of close-circuit cameras and transmitters. The hidden hand of "Gujarat's pride" apparently, made him cough up the money.

Gir has been losing lions with alarming frequency. About 22 killings were reported in 2005-2006. In February 2006 the Gujarat forest department admitted in a press-handout deaths of 90 to 95 lions (period not mentioned) due to accidents, infection and poaching. A Reuters April 2007 report spoke of wells dug up by villagers inside the Park claiming 21 lions during the last five years. In fact, thousands of wells in and around the Park with no parapets are progressively becoming a big hazard for the lions. Then, there was an anthrax scare last year. Some cattle perished before the infection was contained. It was a close shave for the lions.

Besides being grossly ill-equipped, the Park's forest guards suffer from demoralisation due to, lack of incentives, poor salaries, continuing vacancies and stagnation in the departmental cadres. Forest officers have candidly conceded the increasing difficulties being faced in guarding the Park's 1412 sq kms. Whether these facts ever came up for discussion at the meeting of National Board of Wildlife on 18th June 2006 chaired by the Prime Minister is doubtful. Representatives of Gujarat , rejecting out of hand the suitability of MP as a site for relocation of lions, talked of their own relocation plan (not yet implemented) in Saurashtra despite the prevailing inhibiting factors. Their contention that tigers and lions couldn't co-exist (in Kuno) is historically fallacious. They had co-existed in forests of Indian heartland for millenniums until lions were shot out. By succumbing to the Gujarati pressure in June 2006, the Centre heightened the risk to the threatened species.

Narendra Modi was recently reported to have said, "The lions are a symbol of Gujarat's uniqueness in the world. Why should we share it when we are capable enough?" That is precisely where he is wrong. His state machinery has failed to protect them - from being poached, from falling into open wells and from getting mixed up with resident cattle, sometimes infected. Besides, his writ doesn't run on epidemics and nature's fury. The comment of Belinda Wright, Director, Wildlife Protection Society of India, that "Lions belong to the whole planet and Gujarat has to learn to share them" doesn't quite rub off on him.

Outraged by Gujarat's conduct The Economist in its issue of 27 May 2007 said, "Protecting the Asiatic lions will take more than money... a second lion colony is needed, in order to guard against a high risk to the Gir lions" from epidemics and natural disasters. According to National Geographic, "Perpetuating the species is no easy work-lions copulate about 500 times for every litter produced...Because of the Asiatic lions' small gene pool, 70 to 80 percent of sperm is deformed."

Despite the worldwide indignation at Gujarat's pride taking precedence over the future of 300-odd Asiatic lions there is just no sign of the Centre forcing the issue of relocation of some to save the species. An effete Centre in a weird federal set-up is, seemingly, leading the lions towards extinction.



Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lions and tigers and the foibles of men

Special to The Japan Times

MADRAS, India — The Chinese now appear to be turning to Indian lions since a terrifying number of tigers have been killed for their body parts, which are sold to make medicines and even aphrodisiacs.

In India's Gir Forest, the last of some 350 Asiatic lions survive. These are a subspecies that once roamed from Greece to eastern India.

We are told that the lions in Daniel's Biblical den were of this kind, smaller than their African brothers. Curiously, these Indian Asiatic lions live alongside 20,000 descendants of African slaves once shipped into the country.

Although wanton shikar (hunting for sport) by British officers and Indian maharajahs around 1900 depleted the lion population to no more than 24, post-independence conservation efforts by Indian administrations resulted in a phenomenal comeback.

However, in the past four months, eight lions in the Gir Forest of northwestern India have been killed by poachers, who have now turned their attention to these animals after having decimated tigers at an alarming level. Since the medicinal qualities of lion parts are not as readily accepted by consumers as those of tiger parts, lion bones and organs are being passed off as tiger parts!

Although the government of Gujarat, where Gir is located, has swung into action trying to save the lion, animal lovers and experts worry that steps will be as futile as those taken to protect the tiger whose numbers are now estimated at 1,800 — half the world's tiger population. These majestic cats have been butchered in India's forests and tiger reserves to feed a largely Chinese demand for bones and penises, which are used literally to fool a gullible set of men.

In India — where corrupt government officials have also hoodwinked the media as well as men by conjuring tigers out of thin air with the highly unreliable pug-mark method to count the animals — the fate of lions will be as hopeless unless the top echelons of political power make up their minds to fight poachers.

Poachers are backed by powerful lawyers who ensure that the guilty are seldom punished. Just compare the number of tigers killed in the past decade (one a day for many years, according to one reliable estimate) with the number of arrests and convictions. The gap is appalling.

Wildlife experts in India agree that "our protection system is in tatters. Thousands of forest guard posts remain vacant in all states, leaving our treasure troves of biodiversity open round the clock to looters." Most guards are old and the officers who lead them have little idea of how to tackle poaching.

By contrast, poachers are in the big leagues with the latest weapons, night glasses, sophisticated cars, state-of-the art mobile phones and a battery of top lawyers to defend them.

Caught in this pathetic mismatch is the lion whose numbers are so small that the animal could vanish from Gir in a matter of weeks. And unlike the tiger — which can start breeding at the age of 3 and produce several litters of three or four cubs in a lifetime — the lion is not a prolific breeder. That makes its survival even more precarious.

Obviously, urgent measures must be taken to save the tiger and the lion. Among the first should be to revamp the entire system of forest protection by filling vacant guard positions and hiring professionals dedicated to animal welfare. Greater funds must be allocated for this.

We must not forget that the tiger and the lion are part of India's great wildlife heritage. If we allow them to become extinct, it may well spell doom for not only a healthy ecological balance but also for water and food.
B. Gautam writes for a leading Indian newspaper.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Home for Asiatic Lions in Gujarat Only.

Translated from - Gujarati Daily

New home for Asiatic Lions:

There was a meeting at Rampara Vidi (Grass Land) 20 KM far from Wakaner city. In the meeting, Mr. Tanna, C. C. F. of Gandhinagar , Mr. Bharat Pathak C. C. F. of Junagadh and Mr. Kadivar C. C. F. of Aanand Wild Life Division plus D. F. O. from Jamnagar and Junagadh plus Mr. Vasani A. C. F., Rajkot Veterinary Doctor form Anand was present.

In initial stage officials decided to shift ONE PAIR OF ASIATIC LION at RAMPARA VIDI (GRASS LAND) including Pairs of DEER, CHINKARA and other wild life animals.

Near Forest Building at Rampar, planning to build 7 fencing, each in 1-hector area. So they can keep eye on it, if there is any disorder in animal’s routine life.

As there is very good rain in this monsoon all the 35 check dams full of water and there is a very big lake inside Rampara Vidi (Grass Land), so in the summer no problem for animals.

Shree Digvijaysinhji – Wakaner Maharana who was Envirment Minister of Gujarar State and Local forest staff of Wakaner did the good move for the same.

Step by step 6 pair going to be shifted at Ramapara Vidi and if things works out, something same implimentd at Barada Forest, Jasadan Vidi and near by Mount Girnar.

So it is good news as Asiatic Lions on the way to their new home within the Saurashtra, Gujarat.

Himanshu Variya (Wakaner)
Last Page of Divya Bhasakar, Rajkot Edition, Dated 21 July, 2007.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Shah Rukh Khan to star in wildlife protection campaign!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Shah Rukh Khan to star in wildlife protection campaign

Mumbai, July 17: One of Bollywood's top actors Shah Rukh Khan has taken on a new role - as protector of India's threatened wildlife.

Khan will speak out against illegal animal trade and talk about the crucial role forest guards play in a new wildlife preservation campaign to be screened at airports and on television across the country.

“The forest guards are real life heroes because they work to save the jungles and the animals that live there,” Khan says in the ad, according to paper. “Day in and day out they are matching their wits and battling powerful enemies including wildlife poachers and timber smugglers, and they are willing to lay down their lives for this.”

Khan's representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Poaching has savaged India's tiger population, and a thriving black market exists for animals such as leopards and rhinoceros.

Hundreds of leopards have been killed by poachers over the past two years, according to the Wildlife Protection Society of India. A recent tiger census that estimated 3,500 tigers in India is seen as too optimistic by conservationists who believe the true figure is closer to 2,000 or as little as several hundred.

Khan, 41, is one of India's biggest stars and has acted in more than 50 movies. His blockbusters include “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham”, “Kabhi Haan, Kabhi Na'” and “Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna”.

His wildlife protection message in English and Hindi is scheduled to be broadcast at India's international and domestic airports this week.

In a Lion’s Last Refuge!

Field Notes From Author/Photographer
Mattias Klum


For three months I tried to track down lions in the dry teak forest of Gir. It was pretty hard to get close to them with the teak leaves crackling like cornflakes. So it was a wonderful moment when I finally got close to Asiatic lions, particularly one female and her cubs. After a couple of weeks they seemed to be somewhat habituated to me, which allowed me to get very near them.

There are no roads in Gir, which made it potentially more dangerous than working from a vehicle in someplace like Africa. On foot, I had nowhere to go if a lion came after me. To be able to share that closeness with one of the most endangered cat species on Earth in this little forest was quite moving.


It’s hard not to get sick working in remote parts of India, especially if you have a weak Western stomach. I had been very sick just six months before I got this assignment. I almost died from a typhoid-salmonella infection that led to acute blood poisoning. So for this trip I brought along Dr. Torbjörn Karlsson, an intensive care specialist and an expert in tropical medicine, to help keep all of us well.

We all had some minor problems with diarrhea and upset stomachs. But Dr. Karlsson really got sick. Once we returned home, it took him months to get back to normal.


One day I hid a remote camera just inches from a kill. The female lion got there and soon discovered the camouflaged camera. She probably even heard it. So, to make it smell like her, she went up to it and began scratching her back against it. She completely threw off the camera’s angle. And my composition went down the drain.

For Good View Pleaes Visit Source:

Visit to Gujarat - The Jewell of the West

Posted by 123travel on July 16th, 2007

Visit to Gujarat - the Jewell of West and get enchanted with itsreligious, cultural and historical panorama. The history andcultural tradition of Gujarat dates back the time of the Indusvalley civilization established by ruins found at Lothal. TheIndian state of Gujarat is situated between 20.6 and 24.42degrees north latitude and 68.10 and 74.28 degrees eastlongitude. Located on the western part of the sub-continent ofIndia, the state of Gujarat gets its name from “Gujjar Rashtra”,the land of Gujjars, a migrant tribe who passed through Punjaband settled in some parts of western India in the 5th century.

The Jewell of the west, Gujarat is one of the most populartourist destinations in the sub-continent of India which attracta large gathering of travelers & tourists to the state andoffers something for every tourist. The state has the longestsea coastline in the country and famous for its beaches. Some ofmajor beaches of Gujarat are Ahmedpur Mandavi, Beyt DwarkaBeach, Chorwad Beach, Gopnath Beach, and Veraval Beach etc.

Apart from beaches Gujarat is blessed with architectural assets,holy temples & places, hill resorts, wildlife sanctuary, andmany places of tourist interest. Together with wide-rangingdestinations, the elegant & stylish handicrafts, the yummyfoodstuffs, and colourful lifestyle of Gujarati people, enhanceto its charm and its charm never fails to attract the attentionof tourist.
Gujarat is also famous among tourists for its fascinatingdiversity of wildlife. Each is related to one another and hasits unique environment. The wildlife of Gujarat is habitat ofmany kinds of animals and also some extremely rare animals. TheGir is the world famous forest. The Asiatic lion is only foundin the Gir. During your Gujarat wildlife tours you willvisit various wildlife sanctuary and national parks which willsurely enchant you with its fascination. Some of the majorwildlife of Gujarat is Sasangir National Park, Wild Ass WildlifeSanctuary, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Marine National Park,Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary etc.

Some of the top:
Ahmedabad Hathee SinghJain Temple, Ahmedabad Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad JamaMasjid, Ahmedabad Dada Hari, Ahmedabad Siddha Shree DhoramnathMonastery, Bhuj Dhoramnath Temple, Bhuj Champaner-Pavagadh,Vadodara Little Rann of Kutch Rauza, Ahmedabad

To make your Gujarat tour handier, many travel agencies and tourplanners of India offer Gujarat tours packages and they alsoprovide valuable information about your Gujarat tours. Duringyour Gujarat tours you will know what the state is famous forand will be familiar with its exotic cultural tradition,attractive handicrafts, and architectural assets and of courseits wildlife. What a tourist can ask for, Gujarat tour tries tofulfill every type of his demand. Become a part of Gujarat tourand get enchanted with its everlasting sweet charm. Thefascination of Gujarat is in waiting for your arrival.

About the author:Michael Braganza is an eminent analyst and writer in Travel &Tourism related topics. He has authored many books on tour guideVisit :


Friday, July 13, 2007

Complete tiger census by end of year, says PM

Amitabh Sinha
Posted online: Thursday, July 12, 2007


Nearly two months after a study indicated that India has far fewer tigers than what was earlier believed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said all the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force should be implemented at the earliest.

“He also stressed that the tiger census that is being carried out be completed by the end of the year,” Baru said, referring to a study being conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which was expected to reveal the correct number of tigers in the country.

WII had come out with its provisional findings in May based on the estimated tiger population in six states, which indicated that the number of tigers in India was not likely to be more than 2,000-2,200. The last tiger census had put the number at more than 3,500.

The final findings of the WII study were expected in December. But, the Ministry of Environment and Forests on Wednesday said it would ask the WII to try and finish the study before December.

“Everyone felt that we need to get it out (census figures) as soon as possible. There has to be a clear assessment of the numbers,” said Sunita Narain, head of the Tiger Task Force.

“Besides the numbers, we also need to know exactly the areas where the tigers are and where they aren’t. Both will be important lessons for conservation efforts,” she said.

The Prime Minister also noted with concern the large number of vacancies in frontline forest staff and a ban on recruitment by some state Governments. Some proposals to provide Central assistance to states to meet their financial crunch were also discussed.

Singh was informed about the efforts being made to reinforce protection measures inside the tiger reserves and the kind of support that could be offered to the state Governments in this regard.

The relocation of families living inside the tiger reserves also came up for discussion. The Prime Minister was told that a better relocation scheme was being worked out for the people staying in nearly 275 villages inside the reserves.


PM worried about vanishing tigers, seeks timely action

Thursday, July 12, 2007

From correspondents in Delhi, India, 10:02 PM IST

Expressing concern over the vanishing tigers of India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked wildlife authorities to ensure that villagers living inside tiger sanctuaries are offered an attractive package for relocation.

In a review meeting held Wednesday, the prime minister called for time-bound action to relocate 270 villages in the critical and core areas in sanctuaries by offering attractive packages to villagers. He also directed that states be requested to fill vacancies of frontline staff urgently.
While relocating human habitat from sanctuaries can save the big cats, villagers have in many cases opposed such a move.

'In an effort to revitalise Project Tiger the government has created an autonomous National Tiger Conservation Authority with effective powers. The government has also sanctioned the National Wild Life Crime Control Bureau aimed at strengthening anti-poaching activity,' said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office Thursday.

Wildlife experts believe tiger numbers have dwindled drastically - from about 10,000 fifty years ago to 3,700 in the 2003 census to perhaps no more than 1,000 at present.
A count in 16 reserves in central Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan showed depletion of tiger population by up to 50 percent, according to officials of the Wildlife Institute of India.

Destruction of natural habitats and rampant poaching were cited as the main reasons behind the disappearing tigers. Poaching was spurred by a thriving trade in tiger skin and parts in China and Southeast Asia where they are used for robes and for preparing traditional medicines.
Other follow-up measures discussed at the meeting included strengthening protection and anti-poaching activity through a Tiger Protection Force of local residents and ex-servicemen.
Manmohan Singh pointed out that it would be effective to develop a model where ex-servicemen train and create a tiger protection force using local, mostly tribal residents in nearby villages, thereby providing them with income opportunities and create a bond between them and the park. This could be piloted in major tiger sanctuaries.

Another measure discussed at the meet was the creation of a Park Development Fund (PDF) and Park Development Committee (PDC) for every wildlife sanctuary. A model for this already exists in the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lion hunters have change of heart!

Wednesday, 5:51 AM
Lion hunters have a change of heart
By Tony Perry SAN DIEGO --

In their songs, the Maasai tribesmen of East Africa have long celebrated the killing of lions as a test of their manhood. But now the Maasai who live in the Mbirikani Group Ranch in southeastern Kenya are trying to change their traditional antipathy toward the majestic beasts.To spread the message that the lion deserves to be saved, a Maasai troupe is spending the summer at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park -- dancing, singing and mingling with patrons near the home of seven lions.The Maasai are drawing flocks of tourists to their lectures -- two of the dancers speak English -- and their performances at a grassy area near the hot-air balloon ride adjacent to Lion Camp."We have decided as a community to put down our spears and try to save the lion," said Noah Nchona Ntiata, the trou pe's elder. Under a deal with the Maasailand Preservation Trust, the Maasai are compensated when a lion kills their livestock rather than them killing the predator.Using donations and tourism income, the trust pays $80 for a donkey, $100 for a goat and $200 for a cow -- in a country where more than half the population lives on about $1 per day. "From this day forward, on Mbirikani, the warrior and the lion are brothers," a Maasai leader proclaimed in March. In the compensation program's three years, four lions have been killed on the Mbirikani Group Ranch, compared with 22 in the previous 18 months, according to Conservation International, a wildlife protection group based in Virginia . On its list of endangered species, the Switzerland- based World Conservation Union shows the lion as "vulnerable. " In West Africa , the lion is listed as "regional ly endangered."Lions inhabit more than 30 African countries, but their numbers have dwindled because of lost habitat and hunting. Conservation International estimates that before European colonization in the 19th Century, more than 1 million lions roamed Africa . The group puts the population now at 30,000, mostly in protected areas such as national parks.Changing a tribal culture is not easy. For generations, only a Maasai who killed a lion could call himself a warrior.The tribe's dancing involves ritualized gestures symbolizing the lion hunt. The dancers' high-pitched chanting speaks of the challenge of stalking and killing a lion with a spear or poison blow-dart. Still, the Maasai hope their program spreads in Africa . Paying ranchers for lost livestock makes more sense than merely declaring the lions off-limits for killing, said Wilson Nitoipo Sayioki, one of the seve n Maasai men at the Wild Animal Park ."The lions have the right to live and roam in their natural habitat," said Sayioki, 25. "We've gone from conservation victims to conservation watchdogs."

http://www.chicagot news/nationworld /chi-lions_ 09jul09,1, 5612220.story? coll=chi- newsnationworld- hed

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Call of the wild.

Call of the wild 11 Jul 2007, 0000 hrs IST,VAIDEHI CHOKSHI Times News Network

He is passionate about wildlife and he captures that passion through his lens। In an interview with AT, Pathik Patel shares his love for photography...

A businessman and a wildlife photographer. Many would find the combination odd. It's his passion for photography that took Pathik Patel to jungles , wildlife sanctuaries and nature parks. For many years, Patel had an interest in photography . And like many others, he always enjoyed clicking photographs of his loved ones at social gatherings. Even though he didn't have any formal training in photography , he was determined to become a good photographer . "Jungles, nature and wildlife fascinate me. I have been to all the major wildlife sanctuaries. The recent debates on decreasing number of Asiatic lions in the Gir forest inspired my first solo wildlife photography exhibition ," says Patel. His ongoing exhibition titled 'Portraying the magnificence of tiger and lion' at a leading art gallery has won him appreciation from many quarters. The exhibition displays photographs of tigers and lions in their natural habitat. Their wildness and grandeur are beautifully captured by Patel. It's definitely not easy to be a wildlife photographer as it involves a lot of time. It might take months to get that one perfect shot. Technical soundness and creativity are essential attributes to excel in wildlife photography . "Apart from having the right equipments and setting for clicking, it is also important to abide by the rules and regulations of the forest department ," says Patel. Talking about his works displayed in the exhibition , he says, "The works displayed were clicked during my visits to Bandhavgarh Wild Life Sanctuary in the last three years. I feel, it is our prime responsibility to preserve nature. This exhibition is a part of my effort to bring awareness about the conservation of wildlife."

Cops, foresters draw up plan of action to check poaching incidents in Gir

Cops, foresters draw up plan of action to check poaching incidents in Gir
Sibte Husain Bukhari

Junagadh, July 10
GIR lion poaching incidents fresh in their minds, senior police and forest officials held a high-level meeting on Tuesday to mull over a comprehensive plan to ensure adequate safety and security to the wildlife in the area. An action plan has been drawn up which includes keeping tabs on inter-state labourers, using technology for safety precautions and strengthening surveillance at the district and range level.

The meeting chaired by Inspector general of police (Junagadh range) included senior police and forest officials from the three districts in the range _ Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar. All the concerned deputy conservators of forest were also in attendance to represent their respective areas. “This is second meeting regarding the poaching issue. We are going to implement a fool-proof plan to ensure the safety and security of the wild life, particularly lions,” IGP Junagadh range, Mohan Jha said.
According to the plan, Sarpanches of revenue villages falling on the periphery of Gir forest will be activated to keep a tab on odd (inter-state) laborers, create awareness among peoples by organising lok-darbar (peoples meeting with officials), locate any suspicious movement and keep a close eye on it, use of modern technology while taking safety precautions and and strengthen district and range level surveillances.
Jha added. “We don’t want any loopholes in the security system and we are also going to conduct special training sessions for our staff along with formation of district-level committee to monitor the safety and security plan,” he said.Meanwhile, CID crime, investigating agency which is conducting the probe in the poaching cases, has also formed its own special wild life cell to check the offences related to wild life and forest.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is counted among the finest wildlife sanctuaries of India। The only known home of the world-famous Asiatic Lions in Asia, Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Indian state of Gujarat। Spread over an area of approximately 1,412 sq km, Sasangir Wildlife Sanctuary has been home to Asiatic Lions since 1884. Due to a severe drought and excessive hunting in the beginning of the 20th century, this majestic creature reached on the verge of extinction. Thanks to the efforts made by the then Nawab of Junagadh, who banned all hunting in the area, they survived and their number started to grow slowly. After independence of the country, the government of India also paid special attention towards their conservation and on 18th September 1965 the area was declared a protected Forest Reserve. Sasangir Wildlife Sanctuary attained the status of a National Park in 1975. In addition to Sasan Gir Forest Reserve, Sasangir National Park is made up of three adjoining reserves - the Nalsarovar Lake and Sanctuary inhabiting a wide variety of water birds; the Little Rann of Kutch, famous for the Indian Wild Ass; and the captivating Flamingo Island, making Sasan Gir a perfect wildlife destination. Popularly known as Gir National Park, the sanctuary attracts thousands of wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. According to recent surveys, the number of Asiatic Lions in Sasangir National Park stands around 327 (May 2002).

The rugged topography and a moderate and favorable climate support a wide variety of flora and fauna in Sasan Gir National Park. The vegetation in Sasangir chiefly comprises of dry deciduous forests dominated by short and gnarled teak trees, thorn bushes and grassland. Sasan Gir National Park supports over 450 plant species, 32 mammals, 310 birds, 24 reptiles and over 2,000 species of insects. Though, Sasangir is known for Asiatic Lions, the park also harbors a sizable population of Leopards (285 in May 2002), who are more visible here than in other wildlife sanctuaries of India. Other important and commonly noticed mammals in Sasangir are Spotted Deer or Chital (numbering about 30, 000), Antelopes, Striped Hyenas, Jackals, Nilgai, Sambar, Antelope, Chausingha or Four-Horned Antelope, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Ruddy Mongoose, Langurs, Jungle Cats, Indian Porcupine, Chinkara, Gazelles and Crocodiles to name a few.
Sasangir Park also supports and shelters a sizable number of bird population. Major birds found in the Sasangir include Peafowl, Peacocks, Parrots, Raptors, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Black Ibis, Paradise Flycatcher, Honey Buzzard, Redheaded Merlin, Bonelli's Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Painted Sandgrouse, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Spotted dove, Spotted Owlet, Flycatchers, Woodpeckers, Flamingo etc.
One of the major attractions for tourists visiting Sasan Gir National Park is to enjoy a lion safari. Jeep safari is the most enjoyable and convenient way to explore the rich and varied wildlife of Sasangir Wildlife Sanctuary and is very popular among tourists here. A lion safari in the Gir Interpretation Zone (4 sq km area in the park) almost guarantees a lion sighting. In addition several watchtowers and hides have been raised near waterholes, to enjoy a close sights of the lions and other wilds of the sanctuary.
Best Time to Visit
Though, the best season to visit Sasangir is from November to June, one can visit Sasan Gir National Park throughout the year.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport from Sasan Gir National Park is Keshod (86 km). Other close airports are Diu (100km), Porbander (160 km) and Rajkot (160 km).
By Rail: The nearest railway junction from the sanctuary is the Sasangir Railway Station (1 Km). Many regular trains connect it to Veraval and Junagarh.
By Road: The nearest town from Sasan Gir National Park is Veraval (32 km and Junagarh (64 km), which are well connected by road to major cities of India.

One more Asiatic Lion Carcass found; Death due to flash floods

One more Asiatic Lion Carcass found; Death due to flash floods
Divya Bhasker (Translated from Gujarati)

Recently flesh floods had hit whole Saurashtra including home of Gir lions. Earlier one death of one lioness was reported. Today carcass of one more male lion of about 12- 13 year was found on the banks of Satrunji River. The body was found at 2 kms away from Bavada village of Liliya Taluka in Amreli District. Unauthorised sources have informed that only 14 claws were recovered on the dead body.
Also due to this flash floods 175 Black Bucks were found dead in Vedavadar sanctuary area.


Ministry of Environment and Forests


All India meeting of field directors from all the tiger States resolve to strengthen field production in tiger reserves in protected areas. This will form agenda for the forthcoming meeting of National Board for Wild Life. Two days deliberations under National Tiger Conservation Authority at Ranthambhor, Rajasthan, adopted resolutions to consolidate and strengthen the resource populations of tiger in tiger reserves and protected areas. Government of concerned states of all tiger bearing states will immediately take up special recruitment drives for filling up of all front line vacant posts. In cases where there is major gap between sanctioned posts and actual requirements of posts , like the namdapha tiger reserve; the sanctioned strength should be increased accordingly without loss of time. Eco-tourism with involvement of local people to be given priority. Large number of tourists will generate considerable revenue. In few States, such tourism receipts are recycled back for the benefit of local communities and eco-tourism. However, in most of the States such funds are not available to protected areas. A portion of such funds may also be used for providing ecologically sustainable livelihood options to local people to reduce their dependency on the protected area resources. The recent amendments to the Wildlife (Protection) Act in 2006 has made enabling provision for creating 'Tiger Conservation Foundation' in tiger reserves, which would facilitate the process. Source populations of tiger will be consolidated and management of source-sink dynamics will be taken up. All the staff members and others who are deployed in front line areas will be given proper facilities and special provision for free ration, medical facilities and insurance cover. Relocation of villagers from crucial habitats in tiger reserves will be concluded within two years with settlement of rights. The compensation pattern and the simplified procedure will be followed as being practiced in the States like of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Villagers also will be compensated for crop damage caused due to recurrent depredations by wide herbivores. Corridor beyond buffer between two source tiger population will be managed. A site specific redressal strategy will be developed for the Tiger Reserves which are affected by extremists' activities. A Committee will formed to advice a solution for this problem. Wherever relocation of human population is proposed on forest lands outside protected areas, the provision of modification /acquisition of rights on such forest lands will be made. Relocation can be done either on forest land, or on revenue land or a cash compensation may be given.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Unsated by tigers, the Chinese are turning to India's lions
May 24th 2007 - SASAN GIR
From The Economist print edition
A TESTY flick of a black-tipped tail and the lion shows itself, resting in a sandy-brown thicket after the arduous business of mating. The female is ten yards to the right, staring statuesque through the scrub. The pair of Asiatic lions, in Gir National Park, in India's western state of Gujarat, will conjoin every 25 minutes for four days. With every ejaculation, the male will emit an increasingly weary roar. Being a lion is not easy—and not only because the species is so inefficient at reproducing.Little known even in India, the 350-odd lions at Gir are the last survivors of a sub-species that once roamed from Greece to eastern India. The lions in Daniel's biblical den were of this Asiatic kind, smaller than African lions, with a lower-slung belly. The survivors in Gujarat—which live, incidentally, alongside 20,000 descendants of African slaves, whose ancestors were freighted to the region two centuries ago—are a rare conservation success. There were just two dozen animals by 1900, when the local maharajas and British officers started shooting them less and protecting them more. But in the past four months, eight Asiatic lions have been killed by poachers.Unlike tigers and leopards, which are poached for their pelts and for their bones to make Chinese traditional medicines, lion carcasses used not to be prized on the black market. That seems to have changed. The animals poached at Gir were snared, using steel tiger traps, by experienced tiger killers, members of an 'untouchable' community devoted to the task. Their bones—practically indistinguishable from tiger bones—were removed. Indian wildlife officials believe they will be smuggled to China, as either counterfeit tiger bones or an acceptable substitute for them.Gujarat's state government, which relishes its custody of the last of the breed that adorns India's national symbol, has lurched into action. The chief minister has pledged an additional 400m rupees ($9.8m) to Gir, which will pay for 300 extra guards. There has also been an investigation into the recent poaching; 40 people have been arrested.Alas, this may not save the Asiatic lion, if the plight of India's tigers is any guide. Despite decades of intermittent government flurries of activity to save them, Indian tiger numbers have collapsed, to around 1,800 in the wild, about half the world's total. They are victims of China's feverish demand for tiger-penis wine and for tiger bones, of a corrupt and moribund Indian Forest Service and of the populist concerns of the current government for the tribes who live, and sometimes poach, in India's protected forests.Protecting the Asiatic lions will take more than money. A clear-out of Gujarat's indolent forestry officials is required. Hundreds of wells, dug in the Gir reserve by local tribes, need to be covered; 19 lions have drowned in these pits in the past five years. And a second lion colony is needed, in order to guard against a high risk of the Gir lions being wiped out by an epidemic. A suitable forest, in Madhya Pradesh, has been prepared for this; 1,500 families have been moved out of the area. But Gujarat's government, jealous of what it considers to be its lions, has refused to let any leave the state.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lion-prey relationships in Gir Protected Area - V Meena

Lion-prey relationships in Gir Protected Area- Meena Venkatraman, Technical Assistant


Historically, the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) has been associated with human settlements and
have been dependent on domestic livestock. Although conservation initiatives have reduced the dependence on domestic livestock, the park management continues to face the challenges of lion-human conflict.

Food habits of the Asiatic lion in relation to prey abundance in the Gir PA were studied from April 2002 to May 2005. Wild prey availability was assessed by line transects (n = 20) walked during both summer and winter. Livestock survey in 17 nesses and 3 forest settlements within the park wa s undertaken to assess the domestic prey base. There are about 3,896 buffalo, 845 cattle and 19 camels. Prey selection of lions was determined both by scat analysis (n = 120) as well as from lion kills (n= 206). Lion kills revealed that livestock represented 52% of lion diet. The proportion of wild and domestic prey in the diet was also assessed by scat analysis.

Project Title
Social organization and dispersal in Asiatic lions.
Dr. Y.V. Jhala, Dr. Ravi Chellam,WII & Shri B.J. Pathak, CF(WL), Junagadh Circle)
V. Meena, TA
Funding Agency
Initiation & Completion
08.03.2002 to 07.03.2007
In search of A Lair
By Priya Sugathan Source: Free Press Journal.
The sprawling luxurious land of Gir makes it the perfect kingdom for a king. A kingdom of 1424 sq. kms with thirty species of mammals, twenty species of reptiles, several birds and insects playing subjects to the Asiatic Lion. Also called as Sasan Gir, it's the largest wildlife sanctuary outside Africa, where one can see the Lion in all its glory. The Gir Protected Area (GPA) located in the Saurashtra peninsula attracts sixty thousand visitors to it every year.
How did it come about?
Centuries ago, the Asiatic lion roamed wild and free throughout the country. From Greece through to West Asia, Bengal and Bihar. Due to extreme indulgence of the royals in trophy hunting, the number dwindled down to a handful 15. The last lion to be seen outside of Gir was in the year 1884.
On the advise of Lord Curzon in the 1900s, the then Nawab of Junagad announced to decision to protected the endangered species.
It was the first step to protect lions. By 1913, when the population of lions once again bordered on extinction, the British administrators put a ban on shooting the lions. Thereafter steps were taken for the conservation of the forest and the lion king. The Gir was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 with a core area of 140.4 sq. km. Six years later it expanded into a national park of 258.71 sq km. Today with the continuing efforts to save the species, the lion population has gone up to 312.
The Asiatic Lion
The Asiatic Lion in Gir is a foot shorter than their African cousin. Although smaller, a really large male lion in Gir stands majestic and regal it nevertheless is a majestic at nine and a half feet. It has long tail tassel with a prominent belly and a shade lighter than the African lion. Very importantly, unlike it's African cousin, the Asiatic lion refuses to feed on carrion. Although it is ferocious with it 28 teeth, 18 fingers and claws that double fold, it's the only animal that attacks when hungry. It usually shuns human beings and resorts to attacking them only when it's starving. This quality of grace and magnanimity in the animal has earned it the title of the King of the Jungle. Similarly humans exhibiting such strength, grace and valour are known as the 'lion-hearted'.
The Search
A month ago a local channel stated in their news that some officers from Madhya Pradesh were on their way to the Gir forest to shift some of the lions. As soon the news spread, the locals reacted very strongly. Dr. J P Agrawal, The chief conservator of forest said that they have not received any official intimation about it from the MP government or the Central government. An opinion seconded by Pradip Khanna, deputy in charge of the Wild Animal department. A forest officer on grounds of anonymity says that "this proposed move has been in the making for quite sometime now. Especially since the only reason behind it is to find a second home for a protected species.
The government of Gujarat are looking out for this second home within the State. They have marked out the Barda Forest near Porbander as the second home for the lion. So naturally they may oppose the move. But finally the Government of India will take a consensus only after discussing it with the Wildlife Institute in Dehradun."
It is not the first time that have tried to move the lions. Twenty years ago they experimented by shifting the lions to the Kunomalpur forests of MP. But the experiment failed when the lions died.
Why the need for a second home?
One of the main reason is the resident Maldharis or professional grazers. The cattle greatly reduced the quality of grazing for wild animals. The Maldharis have also destroyed a considerable amount of forested land for agricultural and domestic purposes and there is much illegal removing of trees. They are now being resettled outside the sanctuary and this, to some extent, has alleviated the situation. However, the buffer areas surrounding the main forests have increasingly come under the plough with consequent conflict between wildlife and farmer. Secondly the lions have been vulnerable to epidemics because of their concentration in one area.
The Gujarat Irrigation Department is pressing for the construction of a dam, which would flood over large areas of the Gir area, in addition to causing great disturbance during construction (1982). It would also affect the dispersal area for prey species. A further disturbance to the area was the loss of 2 million trees during a cyclone in November 1982. The question is what if Asiatic lions found only in Gir forest die of an epidemic or in a natural disaster? This has propelled the move to find the project to find another lair for the regal animal.
Is it a wise move
After the experiment that failed twenty years ago, the Gujarat government are not in a mood to shift the lions. One of the arguments are that even if the lion survived the climate and got used to the habitats there, the locals would not leave it in peace. Lion's limbs and nails fetch handsome prices in the international market, and MP is said to be the one of the safest haven for poaching. The Asiatic Lions would be vulnerable to these attacks by the local tribals who don't understand the importance of protecting an endangered species.
Even more important are the reactions of the locals of Gujarat. "They are in anguish about this proposed plan to move the lions to MP. They are not in favour of shifting their beloved lions, whom they are very fond of. It's like a family member being usurped from them. A tribe in Kathiawar consider the lions as incarnations of saints," says a local in Junagadh. "Why you may ask? Because the lion is the only animal who has a sense of belonging like the humans. It always moves in a group and a family. Everything is done in accordance of the family," says the local.
Till then long live the ol' King Leo. And long live it's lair in Gir, until the next one arrives.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Poaching case: MP conspirator held.

Poaching case: MP conspirator held4 Jul, 2007 l 0140 hrs ISTlTIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The CID (crime) arrested a conspirator, Kalyan Singh, in the lion poaching case from Panna in Madhya Pradesh. He is on remand till July 5. Meanwhile, a court in Una, Junagadh, turned down the bail pleas of the accused arrested in this case earlier. Forensic evidence helped CID fight against bail petitions of the 34 persons from MP arrested on charges of poaching eight Asiatic lions in March this year. Traces of lion blood found on metal traps recovered from the accused matched with samples taken from the lion carcasses. "Besides, ample forensic evidence from other weapons like spears along with circumstantial evidence, helped us put up strong argument against the bail applications filed at Una and Palitana courts," said CID officials. The accused had moved separate bail applications, soon after CID filed chargesheets in the three poaching cases. "But evidence collected against the accused and the nature of the offence, considering the fact that Asiatic lions are one of the most endangered species in the world, convinced the court to turn down their applications," said CID officials. "We had cross-checked at their home town in Panna district of MP and found that their names did not figure in the voters' list there, neither did they have any permanent address. Had they been given the bail, the accused could have done a disappearing act," officials said. "Singh is a habitual offender and has been accused of poaching in MP. Of the 34 poachers who were arrested from Junagadh and Bhavnagar, one had called on Singh's mobile phone and this led the police to him," said CID officials. The investigators found out that Singh had stayed near Bhavnagar in February and March. The first poaching was reported on March 3 when three carcasses were found in Gir.