Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Poaching partners land in jail for killing partridges

Posted online: Tuesday , June 17, 2008 at 10:17:59

Junagadh, June 16 Forest Department officials have arrested two persons for killing a pair of partridges. Besides, they have also levied a fine of Rs 45,000 under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, on the two. The said amount will be kept as a deposit with the Forest Department till their case is heard and disposed off by senior forest officials.
Assistant Conservator of Forest (Gir east) J S Solanki said the accused have deposited the money against their release.

The Range Forest Officer (Savar-Kundla range) had arrested Ghanshyam Koli and Viram Koli, residents of Vijapadi village in Savar Kundla taluka, on Monday on the outskirts of Vijapadi village, following a tip-off.

The foresters recovered two partridge carcasses from their possession. Partridge is protected under the schedule-4 category and killing them is an offence liable to fine.

Solanki said the case will be tabled before the Deputy Conservator of Forest (Gir east). "The deposited sum might be slapped as fine. The official has the power to reduce or increase the said amount," he said.

Incidentally, the poaching of birds, particularly partridges, is considered a common practice in the region. This might, however, be a first case registered so far for poaching of these birds, said sources.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Poaching-partners-land-in-jail-for-killing-partridges/323556/

Bizarre Monday: A suicide, murder, prank and a wild entry

Posted online: Tuesday , June 24, 2008 at 11:40:51

Junagadh, June 23 As leopard enters Veraval, city goes wild
A leopard reportedly entered a thickly populated locality in the Veraval city centre and spread panic.
According to reports, the full-grown leopard was first spotted on the outskirts of the city. It later reappeared on the terrace of a house in the Khadkhad area and then at a house in the Krishna Nagar Society.

The news of the animal’s entry into the city spread like wild fire and people soon gathered at the site. The police immediately rushed to the spot to control the situation.

Veraval Range Forest officials rushed to the spot, along with a tranquilliser gun procured from the Sasan Gir forest headquarters and after an hour’s exercise, tranquillised and caged the big cat. Later the animal was shifted to Sasan.

Incidentally, this is the first time in the history of Veraval that a leopard has entered the city. Officials said the leopard might have come from the adjoining Gir Forests.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Bizarre-Monday-A-suicide-murder-prank-and-a-wild-entry/326657/

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lioness dies of old age, python after falling into open well, in Gir

Express News Service
Posted online: Saturday , June 21, 2008 at 12:28:23

Junagadh, June 20 A lioness aged about 15 years died in the Gir east forest division after prolonged illness. The big cat was spotted in a physically weak condition on May 31, after which it was shifted to an animal care centre at Jashadhar.
Since then the animal was kept under constant medical observation. But it was not able to recuperate and died soon after.

In a separate incident on Wednesday, one python died after a pair reportedly fell into a parapet-less well located in an agricultural field owned by one Kanti Gondalia – a farmer. The incident occurred on the outskirts of Triambakpur village under Dalkhania range in the Gir east forest division. Foresters rushed to the spot to fish out the serpents. Deputy Conservator of Forest (Gir east) M S Raja said: “The python died as a result of injury and hunger, while another python was rescued safely. It is healthy and has been released in the Gir sanctuary.”

In a separate incident of man-animal conflict, a lion attacked one Rambhai Khatana – when he was busy grazing his cattle in the field. The incident occurred on Wednesday in the revenue area of Nalia-Mandavi of Nawabander in the Jashadhar forest range out side Gir. Rambhai was treated for minor injuries and is said to be out of danger, said forest officials.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Lioness-dies-of-old-age-python-after-falling-into-open-well-in-Gir/325651/

Foresters in overdrive mode to save Gir lion from anthrax

Express News Service
Posted online: Friday , June 20, 2008 at 10:39:28

Gandhinagar, June 19 State Animal Husbandry Dept requisitions 1,500 anti-anthrax vaccines

Last week's anthrax incident that took a toll on at least eight cattleheads in Bagdana village of Bhavnagar district has put the forest officials on a high alert, forcing them to take preventive measures to protect the Asiatic Gir lion from the dreaded cattle disease.

In a related development, the state Animal Husbandry Department has requisitioned 1,500 anti-anthrax vaccines that are being dispatched to Bagdana village where veterinary doctors attached to the epidemic cell of the department have launched a concerted drive to quarantine the cattle. Last week, anthrax had claimed the lives of five cows and three buffaloes in the village.

"Following the outbreak of anthrax in Bagdana, we have started taking several preventive measures in the vicinity of the affected villages to protect the Asiatic lion. Water holes are being disinfected, the grazing areas are being burnt to drive away the Big Cats from the disease-hit areas," PCCF (Wildlife) Pradeep Khanna told The Indian Express on Thursday.

Khanna said his department had also formed several teams comprising foresters, beat guards and officers that have fanned out in the nearby Gebar forest areas to monitor the movement of Gir lions and other wildlife. Local villagers are also assisting these teams to take preventive measures initiated by the forest department. "We have to ensure that lions do not occupy the peripheral region surrounding the anthrax-hit village," he said, adding that wild animals were often found occupying the grasslands in Palitana and Mahuva talukas of Bhavnagar in search of prey.

Conservator of Forest (Junagadh Circle) M M Sharma said on phone that the teams formed by the department have been constantly tracking the Asiatic lions in the region to keep away the animals from the vicinity of anthrax-hit villages. "At present, the lions occupy areas 12 kms from Bagdana. We have to also ensure that the Big Cats do not prey on local cattle or feed on carcass," said the forest official.

As per the latest census, the total population of Asiatic lions in pegged at 359. They are usually found occupying the forest area (Gir) of Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts. Besides, there is large population of other wild animals like leopards, jungle cats, blue bulls and jackals in these forest areas. "The Bagdana village is about 200 kms from the world famous Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, and anthrax is localized. So, there is a remote possibility of the fatal cattle disease hitting the lions in the sanctuary. However, we are not taking any chances in the forest area of Bhavnagar district where Bagdana is located,"said the wildlife official.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Foresters-in-overdrive-mode-to-save-Gir-lion-from-anthrax/325072/

Friday, June 13, 2008

Junagadh zoo to be India’s lone address for cheetahs

Posted online: Friday , June 13, 2008 at 10:42:58

Junagadh, June 12 The zoo officials are in the process of bringing a pair of cheetahs from Singapore in exchange for a couple of lions
The Sakkarbaug Zoo of Junagadh may soon become the country's only zoo to house the world's fastest animal, cheetah. The zoo officials are in the process of bringing a pair of cheetahs from Singapore in exchange for a couple of lions.

Officials said the negotiations, under the wild animals exchange scheme, with a Singapore zoo is in the final stages, and the big cats are expected to land here by the end of this year.

Sakkarbaug Zoo superintendent V J Rana said: "If things go smoothly, a pair may arrive here at the end of 2008. The animal will be accommodated in the zoo enclosure for public display." According to Rana, at present, no zoo in India houses this animal.

Currently, the zoo is home to over 900 wild animals, including 42 lions and 48 leopards. Over eight lakh people visit it every year, he added.

Cheetah is said to have been last seen in the Saurashtra region over six decades ago. The animal assumes significance for the city as there is place named 'Cheetah Khana Chowk' located in the heart of the Junagadh city.

"Former princely state of Junagadh's sixth Nawab — the Mahabbat Khan II — was very fond of wild animals. During his tenure (1851 to 1882), most of the city sites and places were named after animals. Cheetah Khana Chowk name was given by the Nawab," said Prof Pradhyuman Khachar, Junagadh's noted historian.

According to Prof Khachar, places like Hathi-Khana (for elephant) and Genda Agad (for rhino) were looked after by Mahabbat Khan II. The Sakkarbaug Zoo was also established by the Nawab in 1863, he said.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Junagadh-zoo-to-be-Indias-lone-address-for-cheetahs/322038/

Green signal for animal exchange

Green signal for animal exchange
- Zoo to get leopards, exotic birds from Gujarat

Ranchi, June 12: In a month from now, two female leopards will be brought from Junagadh zoo in Gujarat to Birsa Munda Zoological Park in exchange for two jungle cats.

The Ranchi zoo — located at Ormanhji, 25km from here — would also have eight new birds for which officials were waiting for six months.

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) finally gave permission last week for exchanging the animals and birds.

The Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden in Junagadh has a good stock of birds such as flamingos and white leghorns, among others.

The Birsa Munda Zoological Park would get one white peafowl, common peafowl, light ibis and others.

P.K. Verma, the director of Birsa Munda Zoological Park, said the leopards and birds would be brought within a month and the jungle cats would be sent to Junagadh. “We have got CZA’s permission,” he confirmed.

“We have decided to exchange surplus animals and birds for certain rare species, which our zoo lacks. This all is done under the central authority’s directions,” the zoo director said.

He added that a six-member team of forest officials from Ranchi zoo would go to Junagadh to bring the leopards and birds in a truck. “We have not yet decided upon the expenditure that will be incurred in bringing the animals and birds,” he added.

Besides, zoo officials have made all necessary preparations by forming an enclosure for four leopards and also space along with a retiring cell to keep the peafowl.

“The arrival of the new guests would give an opportunity to visitors here to view variety of birds and leopards,” he said.

CZA member secretary B.R. Sharma told The Telegraph from Delhi that they had received a proposal for the animal exchange about six months ago.

Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) A.K. Singh said that to bring the animals and birds would require a few lakhs. “The money would be sanctioned soon,” Singh said.

As far as the beautification of the zoo was concerned, Verma said: “We will go for a facelift after the rains.”

Source: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080613/jsp/jharkhand/story_9404859.jsp

Assault on foresters: Talala MLA, 10 others still at large

Posted online: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 12:38:08

Junagadh, June 10 Even a week after senior forest officials were assaulted on duty, most of the accused, including Bhaga Barad, Congress MLA from Talala, are still at large. They have reportedly gone underground to avoid arrest.
Bhaga, brother of Junagadh MP Jashu Barad, along with his 14 associates is accused of attacking Assistant Conservator of Forest (Sasan Gir) Shashi Kumar and Range Forest Officer B K Paramar.

According to an FIR lodged by Paramar with the Talala police, the accused on June 4 ransacked the forest office, snatched officers’ revolver, and injured them seriously. The police registered the complaint under sections 395 (robbery), 332, 333 (Assaulting official on-duty), and 120 (B) (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

Fifteen people were named in the FIR, of which four have been arrested. They are in the police custody for the last five days, sources said. The four arrested include Devayat Wadher, Ramshi Vadher, Uka Ahir and Janmohmed Bloch. Uka and Janmohmed are sarpanchs of Pipalawa and Sasan villages respectively.

According to the police, the arrested revealed during interrogation that they took the officers’ weapons with them, and dumped it near the premises of the Sasan-Gir forest headquarter. The guns were recovered by the police the next day. The police had also recovered the vehicles in which the accused came to Sasan, along with the clothes they were wearing at the time of the incident, sources said.

“Longstanding tussle between the forest officials and the accused is the likely reason behind the attack,” said a police official on condition of anonymity. He added: “The officials are still under medical observation. Once they are discharged, an identification parade will be held before them in the presence of the executive magistrate.”

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Assault-on-foresters-Talala-MLA-10-others-still-at-large/321344/

Want to be the proud owner of a lion? Visit Pandit Deendayal Zoo

Hiral Dave
Posted online: Tuesday , June 10, 2008 at 10:15:18

Rajkot, June 09 If you have ever dreamt of adopting a lion or gift a tortoise to your near and dear ones, you now have an opportunity to make it a reality. The Pandit Deendayal Zoo run by the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) has come out with a scheme wherein residents can adopt any animal they like. In return, they can give them a name and take care of them.
In a bid to create awareness and foster a bond between humans and animals, the RMC standing committee last week gave its go ahead for the scheme. On Friday, standing committee chairman Dr Jayman Updhayay and member Kashyup Shukla adopted a cub each.

"Not fund raising, but the aim is to strengthen the bond between humans and animals. We want regular visitors at the zoo," said Upadhyay, adding: "The additional funds will help to upgrade the standard of the zoo in all aspects."

While the scheme will be opened for the public within two days after getting a green signal from the RMC commissioner's office, it has received a tremendous response with the zoo office already being flooded with inquiries.

The animals caged at the zoo, which is a part of Aji Dam, can be adopted for a day to one year. Besides, those interested can also provide additional facilities to cages like a cooler, benches, heater or even air-conditioners.

A lion cub can be yours for a month at a cost of Rs 2,200. And if you want to name a tortoise and have your nameplate on its cage, for a period of a year, it will cost you Rs 900. For animals like the leopard, one will have to shell out more, precisely Rs 62,000 per year, while a lion will cost Rs 1.25 lakh for a year.

There are 12 big cats at the zoo, including five cubs, two lioness and four lions. This zoo has also been the authorised breeding centre for the Asiatic lions. So, the donation made for the adoption of lions will also be utilised in taking care of Asiatic lions.

The zoo has over 13 cages with 100 inmates of several species of birds and animals. Bird lovers can also go for adoption of a single bird from the entire cage. The scheme will also be available for the Pradhyuman Park, which is under construction. With over 200 cages, the new zoo will house over 100 species, according to zoo superintendent B T Maradia.

Those who adopt any animal even for a day will be provided with a certificate. And, those who donate over Rs 2,000 can also see their nameplate on the cage of any animal of their choice.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Want-to-be-the-proud-owner-of-a-lion-Visit-Pandit-Deendayal-Zoo/320698/

Monday, June 9, 2008

FIR against Congress Talala MLA for assault on foresters

Posted online: Friday , June 06, 2008 at 11:58:53

Junagadh, June 5 An FIR has been lodged against Bhaga Barad, the Congress MLA from Talala and 15 others, in a case of assault on senior forest officials on duty at the Sasan (Gir) forest headquarters in Junagadh on Wednesday evening.
The police have arrested one person in this connection but the rest, Barad included, are still at large. Barad is the brother of the Congress MP from Junagadh.

On Tuesday night, a forest patrol arrested five youths from Aambalash village for roaming in the prohibited sanctuary area on motorcycles. The youths were brought to the Sasan Gir forest headquarters and slapped with fines of Rs 14,000.

On Wednesday, Barad and his associates rushed to the headquarters and demanded the youth’s release, besides a waiver of the fine. The foresters refused, which led to a heated argument, culminating with the assault on Assistant Conservator of Forest (Sasan-Gir) Shashi Kumar and Range Forest Officer (Talala range) B K Parmar. One of the assailants even snatched Parmar’s revolver in the melee and escaped, but it was later found lying on the ground.

The two officers sustained head injuries and have been hospitalised at the Junagadh Civil Hospital. Later, Parmar lodged a complaint against Barad, Ramshi Aahir, Devayat Aahir, Uka bhai (Sarpanch - Pipalawa village), Janmohmed Makarani (Sarpanch-Sasan village), Khimbhai chadera and nine others unknown persons with the Talala police under Sections 395 (robbery), 332, 333 (Assaulting official on-duty), 120 (B) (conspiracy), 114 and 504 of the IPC.

Investigation Officer and Talala Circle Inspector N R Jadeja, said: “The accused MLA and 14 others have reportedly gone underground and are at large. Investigations are on to nab them. Teams have been dispatched to different places.”

Jadeja said Barad’s arrest is inevitable. “The law will take its own course. Offences registered against the accused are non-bailable,” he said.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/FIR-against-Congress-Talala-MLA-for-assault-on-foresters/319256/

Drive against illegal miners bears fruit

Posted online: Saturday , May 31, 2008 at 11:20:42

Junagadh, May 30 Illegal mining activities have come to a halt in Junagadh district, particularly near the Gir forest, following the intensive drive jointly carried out by the district administration and the Mine and Mineral department.
Following reports of largescale illegal mining activities in Junagadh district, particularly on the costal belt and in some pockets near Gir forest, the Junagadh district collector Ashwini Kumar had formed a two-member committee comprising the sub-divisional magistrate and the deputy SP -- to monitor and curb cases of illegal mining.

According to sources, some NGOs involved with protecting forests and the wildlife had written to the district collector and authorities concerned about the illegal mining activities being carried out in the 5-km radius of the forest border.

When contacted, district collector Ashwini Kumar, said, "Strict action has been taken against those involved in illegal mining activities, and according to our departmental report, there are no mines near the Gir forest now."

"Apart from the area near Gir, we are taking strict action against illegal mine operators. Machinery worth lakhs of rupees has been seized and police action has been initiated. Though illegal mine operators try to outsmart us by using movable machinery, we have carried out instant raids on receiving reports of any such activity. Recently on May 19, a total of 77 cutter machines were seized from a village in Mangarol taluka on the costal belt," said Kumar

When contacted, Revatubha Raizada, the office bearers of the Sky Forest Youth Club in Keshod town said, "Earlier, some illegal mines were operational near Jamwala village located on the periphery of Gir forest. However, now there are no reports of any illegal mining in the area."

According to an activist, illegal mine operators are mainly concentrated on the costal belt areas particularly in Una, Kodinar and Mangarol taluka. How ever, their activities were restricted once the district administration carried out intensive drives.

"Last week the district administration held a meeting with industrialists on this issue. It was clearly spelt out that those involved in illegal mining would not be spared and if deemed necessary, they would be arrested under PASA (Prevention of Anti Social Activities)," said the district collector.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Drive-against-illegal-miners-bears-fruit/316724/

Leopard carcass found in field, foul play suspected

Express News Service
Posted online: Friday , May 30, 2008 at 11:43:09

Junagadh, May 29 In less then a month, another leopard carcass has surfaced in the revenue area adjoining Gir forest. On Wednesday, the carcass of a full-grown leopard was found in a farm located on the outskirts of Jashapar village in Talala taluka falling under Gir west forest division. Prima facie, it appeared that the leopard had died due to natural reasons, but a post-mortem revealed head injuries, which had resulted in a brain haemorrhage.
Earlier on May 3, the carcass of a leopard had been found in the fields on the outskirts of Simar village in Jashadhar forest range in Gir east forest division. Officials had admitted it to be a case of poaching, and while the police have identified two people, they are still at large.

According to Range forest officer (Talala range) M B Chauhan, a leopard attacked one Jerambhai Nagji (65) when he was working in the fields on Tuesday. Nagji was rushed to the Talala public health centre where he received six stitches. Even though the foresters laid a trap and waited all night to nab the animal, they could not find it.

When the foresters began looking for the animal the next day, they found a leopard's carcass lying barely 50 metres from where the incident had occurred.

When contacted, Assistant Conservator of Forest (Talala range) R D Katara said, "Prima-facie it was appeared to be a case of natural death, but a post-mortem revealed that the animal had received serious head injuries. An inquiry has been initiated into this case."

When contacted, inquiry officer M B Chauhan said, "On Thursday, an offence was registered under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, rule 9 -against an unknown person. However, no arrests have been made so far."

The farmer's statement is yet to be recorded as he is still under medical observation. Killing of leopards is a non-bailable offence, that invites punishment ranging between three to seven years and fine, or both," said Chauhan.

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Leopard-carcass-found-in-field-foul-play-suspected/316360/

No sex, please. You are at Sri Venkateshwara Zoo

DNA Correspondent
Thursday, May 29, 2008 01:24 IST

Central legislation prevents 70 Indo-African lions – 14 females and 56 males – at the zoo from mating

HYDERABAD: Sex is taboo here, and the king of the jungle is no exception. The 70 Indo-African lions – 14 females and 56 males – brought to Sri Venkateshwara Zoo in Tirupati Tiger Reserve from various circuses and zoos across the country are not allowed to mate for fear of genetic contamination among other species.

In fact, the males and females have been kept in separate enclosures. Parvati is one of them. The female was brought to the zoo in 2001 but has been kept off sex despite being a ripe 14-year-old, thanks to a 1999 central legislation against cruelty to animals that bans regeneration of unnatural wildlife in captivity.

“Most of the time the animals are sedated so that they don’t become violent for lack of sex,” says a warden. The Indo-African crossbreed is genetically weak and hence the need to ensure it does not multiply. In India, only Asiatic lions and tigers are allowed to reproduce, say central zoo authorities.

State chief conservator of forests SK Das says the animals brought to Tirupati are not considered wildlife.

AV Joseph, principal conservator of forests (wildlife), says the state has specific instructions from the central zoo authority to prevent reproduction of these animals.
“The average lifespan of wild lions and tigers is less than 15 years, but those in captivity live 20-25 years,” says Praveen Bhargav, trustee, NGO Wildlife First, and a member of the national board for wildlife.

“We are not starving them of food, though circus animals eat more than those in the wild – eight kg of meat every day,” warden A Raghupati says.

Meanwhile, the zoo is planning to mercy kill 20-plus animals that cannot move. Besides, the lure of the high price that lion skin, teeth and nails fetch is threatening their safety.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1167130

Taj Safaris to set up 4 new safari lodges in India

Taj Safaris to set up 4 new safari lodges in India
To be operational by October 2011

Steena Joy - Durban

Taj Safaris, the joint venture company of Taj Hotels & Resorts and CC Africa (Conservation Corporation Africa), is planning to set up four new safari lodges in India - one in Kaziranga (Assam), two others in the south and one in Gir (Gujarat). This will be the first time that Taj Safaris will venture outside the state of Madhya Pradesh where it already owns and operates two luxurious safari lodges with two more ready to open.

Speaking to Express Hospitality, Nicky Fitzgerald, marketing director of CC Africa, said, "The proposed lodges will be fully operational by October 2011 and will take the total number of our lodges in India to eight. Apart from the Mahua Kothi lodge at Bandhavgarh National Park and Baghvan lodge at Pench National Park which are already open, two others - the Banjaar Tola lodge in Kanha National Park and the Pashan Garh lodge in Panna National Park - will open on October 1 this year."

While Banjaar Tola has two intimate camps of nine tented suites each, there are 12 luxury stone cottages in Pashan Garh. According to Fitzgerald, while these lodges are a great hit with foreign tourists, they also attract a number of domestic tourists who are very loyal tiger enthusiasts.

The four proposed lodges (estimated to cost approximately Rs 6 crore each) will cover a variety of wildlife and will offer tourists different wilderness circuits.

While Kaziranga is famous for its rhinos, the south is known for its elephants and Gir is home to the Asiatic lion. With over 30 years of tailor-making safaris in Africa, CC Africa's portfolio spans South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Source: http://www.expresshospitality.com/20080615/market01.shtml