Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hyena dies after falling into trap.

Express News Service
Posted: Sunday , Dec 27, 2009 at 0149 hrs

A hyena died after it was caught in a trap placed by farmers near Waghodia late on Thursday. Following the incident, Vadodara range forest officials have warned the villagers not to place such traps as action can be taken against them for killing a scheduled animal.

The incident occurred around 9.45 pm in Gugalpur village in Waghodia taluka when some villagers spotted a ‘tiger’-like animal caught in a trap that was laid to prevent pigs from entering farms. But animal activists have alleged that the trap was not for pigs but for the hyena only.

“We got a call from activists of Gujarat Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals about a hyena trapped in Gugalpur village. We reached the spot around 11 pm and found that the hyena was badly trapped and villagers had surrounded it out of curiosity. We removed the noose from around the animal’s neck, but it was severely injured by then,” said M H Baria, Range Forest Officer (Vadodara).

Senior forest officials maintained that the hyena died as a lot of people had surrounded it. “The iron noose was fatal in any case. With the people coming near, the hyena struggled to free itself, but the noose only tightened. Eventually, the animal’s throat was slit. When we reached the spot, it had bled profusely. It died by the time we reached the nearest veterinary hospital. A postmortem was conducted and the last rites performed as per rules,” said a senior forest official.

Meanwhile, the animal activists said that action should have been taken against the farmers who had placed the trap.

“The hyena is a Schedule I animal. If the Forest Department does not take action against those who had placed the trap, such incidents would continue to occur,” said Snehal Bhavsar of GSPCA, who had informed the Forest Department about the incident.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/hyena-dies-after-falling-into-trap/559535/0

In one day, three leopards die in Junagadh

TNN 27 December 2009, 05:03am ISTText Size:|Topics:

In yet another case of infighting among big cats in Gir, a leopard was killed by a lion on the outskirts of Dalkhaniya village in Gir west recently. Officials said, the reason of the fight could not be ascertained.

In two more unnatural deaths of the spotted beast, a leopard was run over by a train while crossing an unmanned railway crossing near Gadu village in Junagadh district on Saturday.

In another case, a five-year-old female leopard was electrocuted to death in Varsinghar village of Una taluka in Junagadh district on Saturday morning. The animal got the electric shock after coming in contact with a transformer in an unused mine, sources said.

About the fight between a lion and leopard, officials said: "It could be that the lion had made an attempt to scare another big cat away. Instead, this led to a fight between the two," officials said. Range forest officer A D Atara, said pug marks and injuries on the leopard, suggest a lion was the killer.

The incident, however, gave senior forest officials a chance to reiterate their claim that just like leopard and lion cannot stay together, a tiger and lion cannot survive together in Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/In-one-day-three-leopards-die-in-Junagadh/articleshow/5383240.cms

Gir patrol staff to be equipped with GPS units

Shubhlakshmi Shukla

Posted: Monday , Dec 21, 2009 at 0112 hrs

Five hundred field staff manning the Sasan Gir Forest will now have to be on their toes as senior officers of the Forest Department will be monitoring their on-field movements.

This comes after the state Ministry of Forest and Environment finalised the Rs 20 crore project of equipping the field staff with the Global Positioning System (GPS) Hand Held Units (HHU).

With this, the Forest Department will now be equipped to monitor the Asiatic lions on a daily basis by the end of 2010. This will fill up several gaps in the management, they say.

The project is the outcome of recommendations by the task force formed by MOEF on May 25, 2007 following a series of reports of poaching of Asiatic lions.

This system with a Geographical Information System (GIS) control room at the Junagadh forest office will provide a daily account of the surveillance activity and the dispersal of the big cats in the two divisions of Sasan Gir.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/gir-patrol-staff-to-be-equipped-with-gps-units/556886/0

Lioness killed in Gir forest.

Press Trust of India
Posted: Sunday , Dec 20, 2009 at 0229 hrs

The state Forest Department found the carcass of a lioness from the Tulsishyam range in Gir forest in the district, officials said on Saturday. The big cat was killed by a sharp weapon.

The carcass of a seven-year-old lioness was found on Thursday night from the protected forest area. It was then brought to the Forest Department’s Jasadar medical clinic for animals for a postmortem, they said.

As per the postmortem report, the lioness had received several wounds on the left side of her chest by a sharp weapon, the officials added.

The Forest Department has launched an investigation into the suspected poaching incident and Regional Forest Officer B P Ranparia is heading the inquiry.

Department officials said that this is a case of poaching and they will leave no stone unturned to get to the culprits.

Two years ago, nine lions had been killed in separate incidents by a gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh. The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the last abode of the Asiatic lion. A 2005 census had found 259 lions in the sanctuary. The next such census is likely to be conducted in 2010.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Lioness-killed-in-Gir-forest/556680

Lioness killed in Gir forests.


Amreli, Dec 19 (PTI) The body of a lioness killed with a sharp edged weapon has been recovered from Tulsishyam range of the Gir forests in the district.

A post-mortem conducted on the body of the seven-year-old lioness, which was found on Thursday night from the protected forest area, revealed that it had received several wounds on the left side of her chest by some sharp edged weapon, Gujarat forest department officials said here today.

An investigation has been launched into the poaching incident, they said, adding no stone will be left unturned to bring the culprits to book.

Two years ago, nine lions were killed in separate incidents by a gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh.

Gir wildlife sanctuary is the last abode of Asiatic lions, where in a census of 2005, 259 lions were found. The census of lions in Gir is likely to be conducted next year.

Source: http://www.ptinews.com/news/431918_Lioness-killed-in-Gir-forests

Mystery death of lion solved: eyewitness tracked.

Vikram Rautela
Posted: Tuesday , Dec 15, 2009 at 0317 hrs

The death of an adult Asiatic lion, whose body was found under a bridge near Bhelchhar village in the Sasan range of Gir forest earlier last week, is no longer a mystery.

Officers from the Forest Department, who are investigating the case, have finally tracked the eyewitness who had seen the big cat jump off the 25m high bridge around 11.15 pm last Tuesday.

The witness, whose identity is being withheld, is an outsider, and had come to Gir on a tour. He was tracked with the help of an entry – mentioning his name, address and car registration number – logged on the toll plaza register near the bridge.

In his statement to the investigating team headed by Deputy Forest Conservator (Gir west), Amit Kumar, the witness said that the headlights of a speeding car heading towards the Sasan side on the 20 m long bridge had startled the animal, which was walking towards the opposite (Junagadh) side that night. Feeling threatened, the lion jumped atop a narrow, metre-high parapet on the left side of the bridge, but failed to keep its balance and plunged down.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/mystery-death-of-lion-solved-eyewitness-tracked/554293/0

Pride wars — attack of the kings.


Sheroo meets Leo Kappoorio — a handsome Asiatic lion. But Sheroo learns that life is not all about good looks, for, Leo has his share of problems too.

Last week I ran into this dude from Gir forest I 'd always thought I was the badshah of cool until I met this guy- he's a regular rockstar, long-haired and dashing! An Asiatic Lion, he had a rather fancy name too — Leo Kappoorio (which I suspect is a slightly altered version of what his mother named him).

We got talking and I brought up the recent lion- killing incidents in Chennai's Vandalur zoo. There had been two instances this year where lions have killed another of their species.

What is all this about? Leo shook his handsome head dismissively: “Why fuss so much? These guys actually have it easy in the zoos. The lions that got killed were old, one was thirteen and the other nineteen. In the jungle you are lucky if you live to be ten! ''

Leo then proceeded to tell me about life in the wild. His home is Gir, in Gujarat, the last bastion of the Lion king. Unlike us tigers, these folks don't lead solitary lives. All lion cubs are born in prides, where mommy and her sisters live and hunt together along with their mates. A lion's pride in Gir usually comprises two adult mothers, with their entourage of cubs and of course, the dads.

Family talk

Pride loyalties run deep for the female lions. They are all related – sisters, cousins and daughters. The males are part of the pride until tougher guys break in and throw them out. To gain entry to a pride, they have to impress the ladies and this they do with a huge show of machismo. This can be very bloody, says Leo. The resident males are killed or injured badly that they have no choice but move out.

“We live in dangerous times mate, no one is safe, especially if you are male.” says Leo. Once in, the guys have their pride duties — mostly it's patrolling and marking territory. The females being smaller and faster, actually lead the pack for the kill.

Growing up isn't easy either. Sometimes, male lions taking over a pride kill the cubs and ‘teen' lions. Even otherwise, growing up is tough. Mothers hide new- born cubs under bushes to protect them from predators like hyenas, until they are about two months of age. Cubs are able to run around by the time they are a month old but they don't start eating meat until they are around three months .Then it's school time, learning the ropes to hunt and kill. By the time, a cub is around one, he could join the hunting party. This is also when they actually begin to roar!

Unlike us tigers, these guys hunt in a group. And guess what? Men get the lion's share of the prey!

Leo is two years old and cubs until the age of four usually remain with their pride. But he is wary. “I can see it coming, pal. One of these days, my Pa will get thrown out by a toughie and it's not going to be good for me and my brother. So shortly, I plan to leave this pride along with my brother Simboo. Between us, we should manage to survive on our own. I'll miss my folks but one has to see the writing on the wall, don't you think?”

Did you know?

Asiatic lions were found in the Mediterranean, even Greece and Rome at one time.

There are only over 350 Asiatic lions left in the wild today and all of them live in Gir.

Asiatic lions have smaller, shaggier manes compared to their African cousins and their ears are always seen.

Lions spend most of their time resting, about 20 hours a day!

African lions live in larger prides, four to six female lions and their families.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/yw/2009/12/15/stories/2009121550351100.htm

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thoroughfare through Gir turns fatal for wildlife.

Hiral Dave
Posted: Thursday , Dec 10, 2009 at 0407 hrs Rajkot:

As many as 20 animals killed between Junagadh, Sasan in the last one year

Even as mystery shrouds the death of an Asiatic lion that fell off a bridge in Sasan Gir on Monday night, as many as 20 wild animals have been reported killed in road accidents in the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary over the last one year. The state highway and other roads passing through the sanctuary have proved fatal for wildlife.

Forest Department sources said that as many as 20 animals including a leopard, three deer and a fox, have been killed on the highway between Junagadh and Sasan and, six other highways running through the sanctuary. In the last three months, seven deer, three on the Sasan-Talala road and four on the Mendrda-Sasan road have been killed. The number of wild animals killed since 2004-05 was nearly 60, they said.

Though incidents of wild animals getting killed in the sanctuary has been increasing, the fact remains that the Forest Department lacks facilities like ambulance or rescue vans to treat the injured animals. They have to be taken to the headquarters of respective ranges like Gir east and Gir west for treatment.

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The number of accidents has also gone up due to the increasing presence of tourists and vehicles (both two and four wheelers) on the highway, said Forest Department sources.

“In recent times, Sasan and Gir Wildlife Sanctuary have been attracting more tourists, which has led to an increase in traffic on the state highway as well as internal roads. Tourist vehicles often ply at high speeds. Besides, the number of two and four wheelers is also constantly going up in the rural areas surrounding the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary,” said a senior forest officer on condition of anonymity.

The Jamwada-Kankai, Jamwada-Banej, Junagadh Talala, Haripur-Hirenwel, Jasadhar Timberwa and Dhari-Una roads, in particular, have turned fatal for wildlife.

These single lane kaccha roads run through the heart of the sanctuary. Following the poaching of nine lions in 2006, these roads have been shut down for movement after sunset, and the state highways like Junagadh-Sasan and Sasan-Bhal remain open for 24 hours. Conservator of Forest M M Sharma was unavailable for comments.

Deputy Conservator of Forest, Gir West, Amit Kumar, said: “These accidents are happening only because these roads pass through this area.”

Deputy Forest Officer Gir East, Sandeep Kumar said: “The Forest Department cannot stop vehicles from plying at high speeds. A couple of these are state highways, but there is no mechanism to punish the drivers for driving at high speeds.”

Mystery death of lion: malafide intention not ruled out

RAJKOT: Foresters have not ruled out a malafide interest behind the mysterious death of an Asiatic lion, which fell off a bridge over the Hiren river on the Sasan-Bhal road in the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday.

According to the postmortem report, the lion died of head injury, but little is known why it jumped off the bridge. The only plausible reason being that it was startled by a four-wheeler.

But foresters have not ruled out a malafide intention to chase or tease the big cat.

“A malafide interest cannot be ruled out. We have not been able to trace down any vehicle” said Amit Kumar, adding that the postmortem report has revealed that the animal was not hit by any vehicle.

Kumar added: “We believe that an approaching vehicle from the right side of the bridge might have provoked the lion, which was coming from the left side, to jump off the bridge. Pug marks have been found till the middle of the bridge and are missing after that. Only a vehicle could have provoked it to jump.”

The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 1,412 sq km area and is the only abode of the Asiatic lion. The last census put the lion population at 370.

Meanwhile, a bandh was observed in Sasan town on Wednesday demanding fair investigation into the matter. Former sarpanch Bharat Lakani said the bandh was also supported by the tourist vehicles association and hotel owners’ association.

Sasan residents also organised a prayer meeting at Sinh Sadan at 11 am on Wednesday.
Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/thoroughfare-through-gir-turns-fatal-for-wildlife/552347/0

Sasan town observes bandh in protest against lion's death.

PTI 9 December 2009, 07:39pm IST

RAJKOT (Guj): Sasan town in Junagadh district, famous for Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, on Wednesday observed a half day bandh to protest against forest deparment's failure of saving a lion which died after falling down from a bridge.

Entire village remained closed for half-day even auto rickshaw and ferry service operators also extended their support by joining in the bandh which was called by local residents in protest against the forest department, sources said.

They also submitted a memorandum to the forest department and demanded that strict action be taken against the responsible forest officials whose alleged carelessness caused a lion's death, they said.

An eight-year-lion died yesterday after falling off a 15 meter birdge constructed on a Hiran river.

The villagers in the memorandum also sought that lion show being organised by the forest department for tourist should be cancelled to save life of lions.

However, deputy conservator of forest, Amit Kumar could not be contacted to highlight the cause of the lion's death but sources from the forest department did not rule out possibility that the lion might have been hit by a moving vehicle.

Tracking the lion.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN 30 November 2009, 05:53am IST

AHMEDABAD: The straying out of Asiatic lions from the protected Gir forest has amazed wildlife enthusiasts and worried Gujarat forest officials.
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The beast which was earlier confined to the area in and around Sasan and Dhari in Junagadh, is now being spotted in Bhavnagar and other parts of Amreli district.

The forest department, in a bid to secure the area where the lions have moved out, has asked Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to study the dispersal rate of the lions in the state. It plans to protect the area and the corridor from where the lions are moving out of the sanctuary.

Officials said that there were reports of lions making several areas outside Gir as their permanent home away from Gir sanctuary. In a recent meeting with WTI and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), it was decided that the WTI would carry out a detailed study on the movement of the lions outside the sanctuary.

Fores officials have found 14 lions in Ranigala village of Bhavnagar district. This was probably the biggest pride spotted in recent times. Earlier, there were scattered reports of lions moving in the district. However, spotting groups above 10 are now becoming a routine in Bhavnagar and Amreli districts.

Interestingly, lions are not only moving away from Sasan but seem to be regaining their lost territory. Lions in the past were found upto Gondal in Rajkot and in Bhavnagar and Porbandar. Officials said that as on date, one can see lions along the coastal belt from Porbandar to Bhavnagar.

Officials further said the WTI would give a perfect route plan from where these lions have been moving out and the areas where their concentration has been noticed. With lion census slated next year, this would also help the department in the exercise.

Foresters said that the carrying capacity of Gir was around 275-280 lions and hence, over 100 lions have moved out of the sanctuary in want of food. He said the places where these lions are spotted had lion presence in the mid 1900s.

A senior forest official said, "Gir's carrying capacity is just 250 lions and as of today, there are over 370 lions in the sanctuary. The lions are moving out because of want of food and terrotorial fights."

He said that getting prey in the sanctuary was difficult than getting a catch outside. Once the animal gets used to easy killing, it will not move back to the sanctuary. Even if they are caught and released into forest, they will stray out again and come close to human habitat, he pointed out.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Asiatic Lions in GIR Sanctuary.

Rajya Sabha

There are no reports about the number of Asiatic Lions in Gir Sanctuary has decreased over the years.On the contrary the number of Asiatic Lions in Gir Sanctuary has increased over the years.The Government of Gujarat has launched several steps including establishing and conserving appropriate habitats including Barda Wildlife Sanctuary located in Porbandar and Jamnagar Districts for supporting lion population.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests (independent charge) Shri Jairam Ramesh in a written reply to a question by Sh. Mahmood A. Madani and Sh. Santosh Bagrodia in Rajya Sabha today.


Source: http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=54761

Tracking the lion.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN 30 November 2009, 05:53am IST

AHMEDABAD: The straying out of Asiatic lions from the protected Gir forest has amazed wildlife enthusiasts and worried Gujarat forest officials.

The beast which was earlier confined to the area in and around Sasan and Dhari in Junagadh, is now being spotted in Bhavnagar and other parts of Amreli district.

The forest department, in a bid to secure the area where the lions have moved out, has asked Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to study the dispersal rate of the lions in the state. It plans to protect the area and the corridor from where the lions are moving out of the sanctuary.

Officials said that there were reports of lions making several areas outside Gir as their permanent home away from Gir sanctuary. In a recent meeting with WTI and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), it was decided that the WTI would carry out a detailed study on the movement of the lions outside the sanctuary.

Fores officials have found 14 lions in Ranigala village of Bhavnagar district. This was probably the biggest pride spotted in recent times. Earlier, there were scattered reports of lions moving in the district. However, spotting groups above 10 are now becoming a routine in Bhavnagar and Amreli districts.

Interestingly, lions are not only moving away from Sasan but seem to be regaining their lost territory. Lions in the past were found upto Gondal in Rajkot and in Bhavnagar and Porbandar. Officials said that as on date, one can see lions along the coastal belt from Porbandar to Bhavnagar.

Officials further said the WTI would give a perfect route plan from where these lions have been moving out and the areas where their concentration has been noticed. With lion census slated next year, this would also help the department in the exercise.

Foresters said that the carrying capacity of Gir was around 275-280 lions and hence, over 100 lions have moved out of the sanctuary in want of food. He said the places where these lions are spotted had lion presence in the mid 1900s.

A senior forest official said, "Gir's carrying capacity is just 250 lions and as of today, there are over 370 lions in the sanctuary. The lions are moving out because of want of food and terrotorial fights."

He said that getting prey in the sanctuary was difficult than getting a catch outside. Once the animal gets used to easy killing, it will not move back to the sanctuary. Even if they are caught and released into forest, they will stray out again and come close to human habitat, he pointed out.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Tracking-the-lion/articleshow/5282417.cms

IBM to help create 'Little Africa' in Gujarat.

Nayan Dave, TNN 10 November 2009, 06:31am IST

AHMEDABAD: In a bid to provide employment to youth of the African-origin Sidi community settled in Saurashtra, Gujarat government has planned to create a ‘Little Africa’ on the fringes of Gir forest by developing a theme-based resort.

The resort to be developed on 25 acres of land would be promoted by global giant IBM. The tribal development department of the state government has entered into a tie-up with IBM India for the project.

“The Rs 10-crore project, excluding the cost of land, would be fully funded by the Gujarat government. IBM will provide expertise to select a private partner to run the resort. It will also provide consultancy to market this ‘Little Africa’ across the world to lure maximum tourists,” said Per Yorgansen, project manager, IBM Denmark, who is in Ahmedabad for IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program.

Pallavi Shukla, senior consultant to the state government for the project, said that development work would start
by March 2010 and the resort would be functional in three years.

“Around 200 Sidi youth will get direct employment. Besides, there would be plenty of indirect employment opportunities as a ‘gram haat’ to display Sidi handicraft will be set up. Every evening there would be cultural events featuring Sidi ‘Dhamal’ dance troupe, which is very popular,” said Shukla.

The resort would be a replica of a typical Sidi village. Even interiors of all the 30 rooms would have an African touch. A museum would display various facets of Sidi life in and around Gir, especially their interface with the Asiatic Lions.

The Sidi community came to India from East Africa as slaves around 500 years ago. Their population is currently 10,000 in Gujarat, concentrated mainly on the periphery of the Gir forest in Junagadh district.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/IBM-to-help-create-Little-Africa-in-Gujarat/articleshow/5214160.cms

Microchips to be implanted on Gir lions.

Manas Dasgupta

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has decided to install microchips under the skin of the lions in the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, the only abode of the Asiatic lions, to track their movements.

The decision was taken following a series of lion killings, both natural and accidental, an official spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The spokesperson said a control tower would also be set up in the sanctuary with global positioning system. The State has sanctioned Rs.40 crore for the project.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/05/stories/2009110558510100.htm

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gujarat retains its ‘pride’, foils MP move to acquire big cats.

Express News Service
Posted: Sep 17, 2009 at 0303 hrs IST

Gandhinagar Gujarat has once again foiled a move by Madhya Pradesh to get a few Asiatic lions shifted from Sasan Gir to Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in the neighbouring state. Besides, it has also succeeded in eliciting an assurance from the Centre that no Gir lions should be transferred to Madhya Pradesh until wildlife experts give their opinion on this contentious issue.

The issue of proposed translocation of Gir lions, which came up for discussion at the National Board for Wildlife meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday, triggered heated exchanges between the representatives of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The Gujarat side was represented by Principal Secretary (Forest) S K Nanda and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Pradeep Khanna, while Madhya Pradesh was represented by Additional Chief Secretary ( Forest ) and PCCF (Wildlife).

“When the Madhya Pradesh officials pressed for the shifting of Gir lions to Kuno Palpur, we vehemently opposed it and told Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh, who chaired the meeting, that Gujarat was not prepared to transfer the big cats to MP,” Khanna told Newsline over the phone from New Delhi this evening.

Khanna and Nanda told the meeting that Asiatic lions could not be translocated to Kuno Palpur sanctuary, as there is a lack of social support to lions from the local community. Besides, the climatic conditions there are not congenial for the lions. They added that the presence of tigers there would cause frequent clashes between the two apex predators over territories.

They also impressed upon the Board members that Gujarat has initiated concerted measures to conserve and protect Asiatic lions in the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, and the State Forest Department has even expanded the home territory of the big cats and improved their habitat. Besides, the local community in and around the Gir sanctuary has lent social support to the lions.

Countering this, the MP representatives contended that their government has already taken up a Centre-aided Rs 24 crore “Asiatic Lion Introduction Project” to accommodate some Gir lions in the 344 sq km Kuno Palpur sanctuary, adding that 24 villages on the periphery have been relocated under the project.

The heated exchanges between the two sides forced Jairam Ramesh to intervene. Quoting Ramesh, Khanna said, “The Union Minister endorsed Gujarat’s views on the issue, and stressed the need for a detailed technical examination of the matter. He assured us that the Centre will seek the opinions of experts, which along with the views expressed by both Gujarat and MP, will be incorporated in a report to be submitted to the Supreme Court”.

The Union Minister also assured Gujarat that if necessary another round of meeting will be held to discuss the issue of shifting Gir lions to Kuno Palpur.

Incidentally, Madhya Pradesh’s move to introduce zoo-bred lions in Kuno Palpur sanctuary came in for criticism from wildlife experts at the meeting.

The MP Forest Department had recently mooted plans to obtain some pairs of lions from zoos in Hyderabad and Delhi for breeding in the sanctuary.
Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/gujarat-retains-its-pride-foils-mp-move-to-acquire-big-cats/518052/

Gir lions can breathe easy for now.

TNN 17 September 2009, 01:44am IST

AHMEDABAD: The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife which met in New Delhi on Wednesday has asked experts to review and give
their opinions on the scientific and social aspects of translocation of Asiatic Lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh (MP).

Union minister of environment and forest and chairman of the standing committee Jairam Ramesh accepted Gujarat government's point of view and asked the panel if there were any other options available.

Principal chief conservator of forest, Gujarat, Pradeep Khanna and principal secretary SK Nanda raised the point that earlier attempts to translocate lions to Chandraprabha in Uttar Pradesh had failed. Also, it was pointed out that conservation efforts of Gujarat were much better than any other state which had led to the increase in lion population.

The duo also said that lions need peaceful co-existence with the people in their surroundings. "People of Gujarat take pride in living in harmony with lions which would not be the case in MP," they added.

Official sources said that it was also proposed that MP can get lions from the various zoos in the country and they can then release the second generation of the big cats in the wild. Officials said during the meeting, the experts also raised doubts over conservation aspect of zoo-bred lions.

Nanda said the minister has asked experts to give their opinions and papers on doubts raised over translocation by the Gujarat government. The Union ministry would then, based on these, file their reply in the Supreme Court to a petition by Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India, a Delhi-based NGO seeking transfer of lions from Gujarat to MP.

He said that it was a victory for the state as Gujarat's viewpoint was accepted in principle by the minister. Meanwhile, the mail and fax campaigns against shifting of lions continued through Wednesday. Officials said that over 1,500 mails and 500 faxes were sent to Ramesh and the Wildlife Trust of India.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/ahmedabad/Gir-lions-can-breathe-easy-for-now/articleshow/5020207.cms

‘Pride’ at stake, Gir villagers with Gujarat on lions’ rehab

FRONT PAGE | Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rathin Das | Ahmedabad

Villagers, cattle-keepers and animal lovers in and around Gir National Park and Sanctuary have protested the Centre's bid to move its famous Asiatic lion to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh even as Gujarat's top bureaucrats are in Delhi to oppose the proposal.

The State Forest Secretary, SK Nanda, and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Pradeep Khanna have gone to Delhi for a crucial meeting of the National Board of Wildlife which would decide on the contentious issue.

While the officials are expected to reiterate the Gujarat Government's stand that the Gir lions would not be shifted out to MP, people in and around the National Park and Sanctuary, too, are up in arms against the proposal.

The 1,412 square km Gir National Park and Sanctuary is the last and only natural habitat of the Asiatic lion the current population of which is estimated at around 360.

Fearing an epidemic might wipe out the entire species, a Delhi-based NGO had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking shifting of some lions to Kuno Palpur forest area in Madhya Pradesh. The apex court has referred the matter to the National Board for Wildlife which has called for its Standing Committee meeting in Delhi on Wednesday.

People in the Gir forest area, who have lived in close proximity of the Asiatic lions for centuries, are agitated about the idea. For the last few days, barely literate people have been sending letters and e-mails to the Prime Minister and Environment Minister to register their protests against the move.

"We will not allow our lions to be taken to MP as they are our pride and honour," Gir Maldhari Sewa Samaj president Karsan Rabari told The Pioneer over phone from Sasan Gir, the last human habitation in the Gir forest area. Maldharis are traditional cattle-keepers who were evacuated from the Gir National Park when it was declared a protected area for wildlife three decades ago. Now, about 350 of these Maldhari families, along with their 3,000 buffaloes, are living in about 54 ness (hamlets) in the periphery of the National Park.

Karsan has sent e-mails to Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh saying that local people never posed dangers to the lions while the poachers (of 2007) came from Madhya Pradesh.

"Even a cub can be taken only over our dead body," said Allarakha Siddique, an activist and teacher with the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. Allarakha added that even the shifting process of lions can be dangerous for the big cats as they run for about three kilometres after being shot with the tranquiliser gun before falling unconscious.

Last time this was tried many years back, five lions died after falling into water bodies before losing consciousness. One lioness never regained consciousness and died due to the tranquiliser shot, Siddique said.

Other organisations which joined the protest include Maldhari Hak Rakshak Samiti, Maldhari Yuvak Sangharsh Samiti and Saurashtra Paryavaran Sangrakshan Samiti. The State's officials would argue at the Delhi meeting that the tigers and lions cannot live together and the tigers at Kuno Palpur forest were not properly protected leading to their vanishing act over the years. Moreover, Gujarat's forest officials plan to stress on the fact that the people of Kuno Palpur are not as favourably disposed to lions as the traditional inhabitants of Gir at the meet in Delhi, sources said.
Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com/203166/%E2%80%98Pride%E2%80%99-at-stake-Gir-villagers-with-Gujarat-on-lions%E2%80%99-rehab.html

'Relocate Maldharis outside the park'

TNN 16 September 2009, 04:25am IST

AHMEDABAD: The task force which reviewed the India Ecological Development Project (IEDP) in Gir has urged the Centre and state government to work
out a policy to relocate Maldharis outside the park with adequate budgetary allocations. This, according to the task force report submitted to the Gujarat government recently, would help forest authorities maintain Gir's ecological integrity and prevent habitat degradation. The report suggested that a biogas plant be set up in each village with sufficient cattle population to reduce use of firewood. It noted how cattle belonging to the Maldharis continue to graze freely within the protected area (PA) which degrades habitat, and poses an epidemic threat to the lions and other endangered species.

Poaching was never a threat in the Gir national park till 2007 when eight lions were killed in the sanctuary for their bones, skin, claws and pelts. This was the first poaching case in the final abode of the Asiatic lion. Earlier, there had only been attempts of commercial poaching in the early 1990's, said the report. It pointed out that some of the local communities, whose population is very low, did indulge in poaching of wild animals for domestic consumption. Faster relay of information of offence, rapid movement within the PA and proper protection has led to almost complete eradication of poaching cases now, the report added.

The report stated that grazing of cattle in villages situated on the border of the protected Gir sanctuary still remains a major problem. About 50,000 cattle of about 100 villages on the border, exert grazing pressure on the PA, which has reduced by 10 per cent since the IEDP took over.

Collection of wood for fuel from forest is also a crucial issue. As per officials, there are about 20,000 households dependent on the Gir PA. Out of these 20,000 households, about 50 per cent get their energy requirement from forests in the PA fringe areas or from the adjoining non-PA forest areas. It is estimated that one family consumes about 10 kg of forest fuel wood per day. During the project implementation, more than 9,000 families have been given LPG connections. Although not all families use LPG alone, there has been a substantial reduction in the extraction of firewood, the report said.

The use of LPG is on the rise with its growing popularity and women getting accustomed to using it. People are also using agricultural wastes or crop residue for burning, said the report and added that the extraction of firewood may have reduced up to 70 per cent as compared to the situation before the implementation of the IEDP.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/ahmedabad/Relocate-Maldharis-outside-the-park/articleshow/5015801.cms

'No taking Gujarat's pride out of Gir'

TNN 16 September 2009, 04:28am IST

GANDHINAGAR: Even as the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife prepares to discuss the issue of translocation of Asiatic lions
from Gir forest to Kuno in Madhya Pradesh (MP), on Wednesday, non-governmental organisations and wildlife activists from Gujarat have launched a campaign to prevent it.

Since Monday, nature lovers sent over 1,000 emails justifying why Asiatic lions should not be translocated to MP. Letters have even been sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to intervene and stop translocation of lions. The last census showed the lion population in Gir at 360.

Revtubha Rayjada of the Sky Forest Youth Club-Keshod said local communities have made sacrifices by demonstrating their commitment to lion conservation besides technical issues that go against its shifting to MP.

Rayjada said the lions have dispersed up to Mahuva, Talaja and Bhavnagar. He added local people in Kuno are known for poaching and that is how the local tiger population is on the verge of extinction in MP. Earlier, attempts to relocate the lion to Uttar Pradesh and Sheopuri MP had failed due to lack of local support.

Ahmedabad-based wildlife activist Manisha Rajput, who has also initiated a fax and email campaign, backed Rayjada's stance and said that "looking at MP's track record, the entire project of lion shifting should be scrapped as there is no local support for the tiger. How can one expect support for lion conservation?" She also pointed out how the tribes involved in lion poaching in Gir in 2007 were from MP.

Bhushan Pandya, a wildlife photographer, has also sent emails and joined in the drive. He said, "Translocation should not be based merely on scientific aspect. Social and historical facts are equally or even more important for this particular species." He added that lions are known to visit and even live close to human habitations. In Gujarat, people have played a very crucial part in lion conservation and protection of other flora and fauna around them.

Kodinar-based Prakruti Pariyavaran Trust has also handed over a memorandum to Junagadh collector against the move.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/ahmedabad/No-taking-Gujarats-pride-out-of-Gir/articleshow/5015806.cms

State govt to oppose proposal to shift lions from Gir at Delhi meet

Express News Service
Posted: Sep 16, 2009 at 0122 hrs IST
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Gandhinagar The Gujarat government will oppose the long-pending proposal of shifting a few Asiatic lions from Sasan Gir to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh, when this contentious issue comes up for discussion at a crucial meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife in Delhi on Wednesday.

Gujarat Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Pradeep Khanna told Newsline in the evening: “Gujarat’s stand on the issue of trans-locating Gir lions has been consistent. We will resist any move to shift the big cats from Gir to Kuno Palpur, when it is taken up for discussion at the Board meeting tomorrow.”

Khanna and Principal Secretary (Forest) S K Nanda will attend the Board meeting to be chaired by Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh. He said the Kuno wildlife sanctuary project mooted by Madhya Pradesh lacked scientific backing and security. Besides, there are only 300 of the total 1,000 tigers surviving in MP. “If the neighbouring state cannot protect its tigers, how can it protect lions?” he asked.

The PCCF also contended that tigers and lions cannot survive together in Kuno Palpur.

In response to a petition filed in the Supreme Court by a Delhi-based NGO for the transfer of Gir lions to MP, the apex court had referred the matter to the National Board for Wildlife and asked it to submit a report in the matter. After hearing the representatives from both Gujarat and MP at the Wednesday meeting, the Board will submit its report on the issue to the SC, sources said.

At the meeting, Gujarat will also seek the Board’s permission for implementation on the Girnar Ropeway project in Junagadh. Gujarat proposes to acquire about eight hectares of forest land, where there are about 12,000 trees, for construction of pillars for the ropeway project. “Though there are about 12,000 trees standing on the forest land, the axe will fall only on 200 to 300 trees,” said a senior Forest official.

The Board will also hear Gujarat’s plea for laying a high tension electric line, and also the ONGC and IOC oil pipelines across the Wild Ass Sanctuary in Kutch. “We hope the Board will give its nod to both the proposals,” Khanna said.
Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/state-govt-to-oppose-proposal-to-shift-lions-from-gir-at-delhi-meet/517567/

African Cheetah likely to be translocated

Bhopal, Sep 12,PTI :

With Iran refusing to give cheetah to India for translocation, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh said today that efforts would be made to get this animal either from Kenya, South Africa or Namibia.

"Iran has refused to give cheetah that has become extinct in India ," Ramesh told reporters here."Efforts will be made to secure cheetah either from Kenya, South Africa or Namibia," he added.

The Minister said that experts sounded pessimistic over the plans to reintroduce cheetah in India at the consultative meeting on reintroduction of cheetah recently held at Bikaner in Rajasthan.

About reports suggesting that cheetah to be brought from a foreign country might be translocated in the wild of Madhya Pradesh, Ramesh said that such a suggestion was made at the meeting.

About the translocation of lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, he said that he had already talked to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi twice on the issue.He had not agreed to give the Asiatic Lion of Gir Reserve to Madhya Pradesh, Ramesh said adding that now it is the turn of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to talk to his Gujarat counterpart on this issue.

The Madhya Pradesh forest has readied Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Sheopur district for the translocation of lions at a cost of Rs 25 crore spread over an area of 330 sq kms, sources said.
Source: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/24801/african-cheetah-likely-translocated.html

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gujarat offers hefty sum to shift out of Gir.

3 Jul 2009, 2028 hrs IST, IANS

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government is planning to shift some 100 families of the Maldhari community living inside the sprawling Gir National
Park as part of a project to resettle these herdsmen outside the sanctuary, officials said on Friday.
According to the plan, prepared by the state environment and forests department, each family will receive a compensation of Rs. 1 million and would be rehabilitated outside the sanctuary by the end of 2010, an official of the department said, requesting anonymity.

He added that the compensation amount has already been allocated in the Gujarat State Budget 2009-10, announced by State Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala in the assembly on the opening day of its monson session.

The Maldharis have been living inside the Gir sanctuary for centuries and consistently refused proposals for relocation made by the past state governments since 1972.

However, the government has now worked out a compensation package which may be acceptable to the Maldharis, he said.

Over the years, the state government could persuade only a small number of Maldhari families to relocate, while the rest of the herdsmen continued to live inside the national park, the official added.

The Gir sanctuary, spread over 1,000 sq. km in western Gujarat, is home to some 350 Asiatic lions - the only place where the species can still be found in the wild now.

Experts say the lions are threatened by man-animal conflict, accidents and poaching. Earlier, a proposal to shift a pride of lions to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary was made, but it has been rejected by the state government citing security reasons. The case is pending in the Supreme Court.

Gujarat govt transfers 345 hectares forest land to industries.

By our correspondent
Gandhinagar, DeshGujarat, 5 July, 2009

The Government of Gujarat yesterday decided to de-notify hundreds of hectares of state forest land in four sanctuary areas-the Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch, Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary and Narayan Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. De-notification was in agenda of Gujarat Wildlife Board meeting presided by Chief minister Narendra Modi. Influential industrial houses had their way and the board led by Chief Minister Modi approved transfer of forest land to industries. This decision will result into a severe threat of industrial and human activity in Gujarat’s forest areas.

The board approved diversion of 89.74 hectare land in the Wild Ass Sanctuary for the power transmission line of Adani Power Ltd and 241.59 hectare land for Power Grid Corporation’s transmission lines. The board also approved diversion of 7.28 hectare land for Usha Breco Ltd for ropeway construction in Girnar Sanctuary; 4.40 hectare land from Velavadar black buck Sanctuary for Gujarat State Road Development Corporation (GSRDC) for construction of a six-lane Sarkhej-Vataman-Bhavnagar central spine road; 0.315 ha land diversion for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd for laying of fibre optic lines in Balaram-Ambaji Sanctuary, 0.45 ha land diversion for Vodafone Gujarat Limited for laying of fibre optics in Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary and 0.45 ha land diversion for Reliance Communication Gujarat Ltd in Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary. The proposal passed by the state government will now be sent to the National Wildlife Board and the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to be forwarded to the apex court for final approval.

Other decisions taken in the meeting are following.

-The government will encourage tribal people to plant ten trees on the occasion of child birth in their family. The family would be awarded ownership of that tree which can ultimately provide income to the tribal family. The Forest department would design a project about this.

-Gir sanctuary will get Garlanding road project, Lion breeding strategy and Leo-Gen laboratory for genetic research about the Asiatic Lion.

-1939 hectares area of Gir sanctuary will be released and 2141 hectare forest area will be added.

-Gujarat government will celebrate Jeevdaya week to celebrate Paryushan, a Jain festival.
Source: http://deshgujarat.com/2009/07/05/gujarat-govt-transfers-345-hectares-forest-land-to-industries/

Royal snub for the Gir lion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 9:16 IST

Ahmedabad: For the second consecutive year, the Union budget has left Asiatic lions in the lurch. Gujarat's demand for funds from the Central government for the lions' conservation has gone unheeded. On the other hand, over the past one year, Rs650 crore have been allotted for conservation of tigers.
The Gujarat government had sought Rs 60 crore for rehabilitation of 100 Maldharis from their habitat inside the sanctuary area in Gir forest in 2007 and Rs 20 crore in 2008. In its latest request, Gujarat had demanded Rs 10 crore. Rs50 crore was reserved in the Union budget as a one-time grant for tiger conservation in 2008-09 budget.

Principal conservator of forest (wildlife) Pradip Khanna said the state requires funds for lion conservation, to acquire land in the area surrounding the Gir sanctuary for the increasing lion population and gene-pool diversification.

However, the environmentalists in Gujarat are celebrating the Centre's National Action Plan on Climate Change. "Though it came about two years late, it is heartening that the plan has finally been put in place. It is depressing that the need for environment courts has not been mentioned in the budget altogether. We hope it would be addressed soon," said Mahesh Pandya, an environment activist.
Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report_royal-snub-for-the-gir-lion_1271793

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Incessant downpour floods Junagadh, 10 inch rain recorded in Sutrapada.

Sibte Husain Bukhari Posted: Thursday , Jun 25, 2009 at 0028 hrs IST


Torrential downpour coupled with strong winds in the last 24 hours threw normal life out of gear in the district on Wednesday, with a few places recording 10 inches rainfall. In Una and Kodinar talukas, four persons were injured when lightning struck them. The condition of one of them is said to be critical.

The depression formed over the Arabian Sea off the Veraval coast has, meanwhile, weakened and danger signals hoisted at various ports have been removed. According to port officials, a fishing boat registered with the Saiyed Rajpara Port capsized in the sea. All the six crew members onboard were rescued.

According to district flood control room, Sutrapada taluka recorded the heaviest rainfall at 255 mm. It was followed by Mangarol 225 mm, Veraval 212 mm, Kodinar 120 mm, Keshod 111 mm, Talala and Manawadar 75 mm each, Maliya 71 mm, Vanthali and Una 60 mm each, Mendarada 55 mm, Visavadar 45 mm, Bhesan 43 mm and Junagadh city 41 mm rainfall.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Incessant-downpour-floods-Junagadh--10-inch-rain-recorded-in-Sutrapada/480905

Scope of a second home for Gir lions remains mired.

New Delhi (IANS): India's Asiatic lions are the most vulnerable of all the big cats as they live in a single area in Gujarat, making them prone to diseases as well as other threats, and yet calls for creating a second home by the scientific community have been repeatedly ignored, say experts.

The sprawling Gir National Park in western India is home to some 350 Asiatic lions, the last refuge for these cats. In the past, the lions had roamed in almost the entire Central Asia.

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a leading scientific organisation, recommended the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh for setting up a second home for the Gir lions.

But the Gujarat government rejected the proposal, saying it lacks scientific backing and security.

Experts believe Kuno in central India is part of the lion's historical home range.

Gujarat says if Madhya Pradesh cannot protect their tigers, how can they protect the lions.

Supreme Court lawyer Ritwick Dutta, who has taken up the case filed by the Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India, a Delhi-based NGO, in the Supreme Court for transfer of the lions, told IANS: "If the issue is not resolved, there would be a huge economic loss."

"The 24 villages that were inside the Kuno reserve have been resettled elsewhere to make room for the Gir lions and an estimated Rs.15 crore has been spent on the project," said Mr. Dutta.

However, with the recent admission by the Madhya Pradesh government that there are no tigers left in the Panna reserve, it might just assure the Gujarat government of its case.

But Faiyaz Khudsar, a wildlife biologist who heads the NGO and has worked in Kuno for the lion relocation programme, says, "Wild animals confined to a single area can spell death knell to their long-term survival, and this has been proved by science."

"Some years ago in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, at least 25 per cent of the African lion population there was wiped out due to the canine distemper disease, (a fatal viral disease) and the rest of the lions fell sick. This shows how a single epidemic can wipe out the entire lion population in the park," said Mr. Khudsar.

The Serengeti Park, a Unesco World Heritage site, is spread across more than 14,000 sq km, whereas Gir has an area of just over 1,000 sq km. Despite the sprawling size of Serengeti, the African lions fell to the onslaught of the viral disease, he maintains.

Besides, inbreeding over a period of time can render a population confined to a single area genetically weak, as they don't get the chance to mate with stronger partners from other geographical areas, making them more prone to diseases, he said.

Gir lions are also threatened by poaching, man-animal conflict and accidents. Many lions have died recently after falling into the wells created to provide water for flora and fauna of the park.

"If Gujarat says that there is a security issue in Kuno, then why are the lions straying out of Gir. Some of the lions are even reaching Daman and Diu," said Mr. Khudsar.

"The only solution left is to create different populations in different areas. The geographical barriers might help the lions evolve stronger genes in the near future that would ensure their long-term survival," he explains.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200906220982.htm

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Indian Wildlife - Some news from Of Cats.

To India now. Some good news for Asiatic Lions in India as their population goes up in the Gir forest, their sole sanctuary. The rise is attributed towards a significant number of healthy cubs that are being reported in Gir this year. More good news from Gir is that the government there has doubled the grant money for covering up of the wells across the forest. Numbering in thousands across the reserve these abandoned wells have been responsible for the death and injury of dozens of lions who have succumbed by falling into them. Fortunately they are being covered at an increasing rate now, thanks to money raised by conservationists and provided by the government, and hopefully will be fully covered by the end of this year. More on the two positive developments here and here.

There's some negative news coming from Gir too. Barda wildlife sanctuary in the proximity is being threatened by mining. A number of mining projects have been set up in the reserve's periphery, perhaps not in full accordance with laws. The news has emerged only recently, not long after government announced an initiative to shift some of the lions from Gir to there. Disconcerting news therefore for the lions and wildlife of Barda, that will certainly be affected adversely if the mining ventures continue in the sanctuary. More here.

Bengal Tiger
To tigers now. And there is a mix of good and bad news here. First the good news. The Indian government has taken some major initiatives recently for protecting its Bengal Tigers. The first involves drastically altering the travel itineraries of tourists across its forests. The authorities are attributing the decline of the striped cats partly to the visitors' interference in tiger's breeding grounds. As a result the movement of tourists across the core areas of tiger reserves is now being restricted. However, it remains to be seen if the move will play a decisive role in saving the tiger in the long run, for there are some counterarguments against it too. To read them and more about this move go here and here.

Another significant move for tiger conservation in India is the announcement by officials there to relocate away from the forests nearly one hundred thousand families who are residing in and around tiger reserves in India. A landmark move, this will entail nearly a decade of work and one hundred billion Indian Rupees, or roughly two billion US Dollars. Let us hope that this bears fruition for the tigers and wildlife in due time across India. The full report here.

In some forests across India though, government is currently employing the tribal population to help protect the wildlife. One example is that of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve near Udhagamandalam, one of the best preserved sanctuaries in the region. Here the wildlife department is employing the locals to patrol the forest and help the authorities protect the fauna and flora. A unique and somewhat refreshing approach towards conservation that may be sustainable in the form of development of ecotourism and employment of the natives. More on this here.

In more good news, the relocated tigers in Sariska have mated, leading to the possibility to a litter by the coming rainy season. Just a few years ago Sariska tiger reserve was wiped clean of all its tigers by poachers. Over the course of past few months a male and two female tigers were relocated there to repopulate the forest. And now it appears that a new generation indigenous to Sariska may soon reappear. More here.

Some bad news now. A decline in tiger number has been reported from forests in the Indian states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In Bihar tiger numbers fell from fifty six to just thirteen over the past seven years, a significant decline attributed largely to poaching. And in Madhya Pradesh five tigers have been lost in the past year or so. In Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in the state of Maharashtra, twenty tigers have been lost in the past five months alone. An alarming rate of decline. It appears that despite the best efforts and apparent good intentions of authorities, the great Bengal Tiger continues to disappear from forests. More on these sad news here, here and here.

Another threat to tigers in India - a national highway that is being constructed through the world's largest tiger habitat in Satpura, central India. The road will have quite an adverse impact on the wildlife and ecosystem of the reserve. The conservationists have already lodged their protests against this to the central government. More on this here. And to read an article on tiger conservation and how you can help, go here.

Source: http://www.ofcats.com/2009/06/weekly-feline-news_17.html

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No tigers in MP’s Panna means Gir keeps lions’ share, says Gujarat

Neha Sinha Posted: Monday , Jun 15, 2009 at 0126 hrs IST

New Delhi:

Desperate to hold on to its monopoly as the last wild habitat of the Asiatic Lion, Gujarat has come up with new reasons to stall sharing its ‘pride’ with Madhya Pradesh.

The central Indian state, says Gujarat, has not done a very good job of conserving its tigers, citing the example of Panna Tiger Reserve, where the big cats have been completely wiped out — as was confirmed by MP Forest Minister Rajendra Shukla just this week.

In its response to a Supreme Court case that seeks to create a second habitat for Gujarat’s Gir Sanctuary lions, the state has also argued that tigers and lions cannot coexist.

Gujarat’s response was to a case filed by the Biodiversity Conservation Trust, which had pleaded that it is essential to translocate some of the Asiatic lions in case an epidemic or some other calamity invades the specie’s single habitat in Gir.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/No-tigers-in-MP-s-Panna-means-Gir-keeps-lions--share--says-Gujarat/476408

Cong demands probe in to vanishing tigers.

13 Jun 2009, 2315 hrs IST, PTI

BHOPAL: The decline in number of tigers in Panna Tiger Reserve today took a political hue, with Madhya Pradesh Congress demanding an all-party
MLAs committee to probe into the reason behind the disappearance of the big cats from the reserve.

"An all-party MLAs panel should be formed to look into the disappearance of tiger population from the Panna Reserve," Madhya Pradesh Congress General Secretary Captain Jaipal Singh said in a statement.

Congress' statement comes a day after reports quoting Madhya Pradesh Minister of State for Forests Rajendra Shukla, claimed that there was no tiger in the Panna Reserve.

Earlier, Singh said that the state government had maintained that there was a tiger in Panna and the forest officials, some months ago, trans-located two felines from Bandhavgarh and Kanha tiger reserves in Panna for reviving stripped animal's population.

But, a team of National Tiger Conservation Authority, which visited Panna last month found that there was no tiger for the two trans-located felines to revive the animal's population, the General Secretary said.

Singh said that the committee should be helped by the wildlife experts enabling it to conduct a detailed probe and thereafter the forest officials responsible for the lapses should be dealt with strictly.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Flora--Fauna/Cong-demands-probe-in-to-vanishing-tigers/articleshow/4653350.cms

Gir to go on a four-month monsoon vacation.

DNA Correspondent
Saturday, June 13, 2009 13:01 IST

Ahmedabad: If you have been planning to pay the lions in Gir a visit but have not been able to do so, then this weekend is perhaps your last opportunity for another four months to come. The lions' keepers will close the sanctuary's doors to tourists for the four months of monsoon starting June 16, coming Tuesday.

The period is also believed to be the lions' mating period, during which they do not like to be disturbed. Moreover, even the roads in the wildlife sanctuary are rendered unusable because of the rainfall as most of the trails inside the forest are non-concrete.

"Every year the forest is closed for tourists for these four months in the year. This is to ensure that the lions are not disturbed during mating. The sanctuary will reopen on October 16," principal chief conservator of forest, wildlife Pradip Khanna said.

The lion census is due next year in 2010 and preparations for the same are already underway. There were 358 lions in the forest as per the last census conducted in 2005. Residents of region and environmentalists believe there has been a healthy rise in lion population over the past few years, pegging the figure at around 500.

According to recent reports, lions have been found prowling in coastal villages of Veraval and Bhavnagar - as far as 300 km from the Gir protected forest. This, naturalists claim is because the entire Saurashtra region used to be the habitated by Asiatic lions about a century ago and now they are reclaiming their old corridor.

This has the forest department on their toes with numerous incidents of man-animal conflict. An elaborate plan to expand to include the surrounding areas of Gir forest as reserved protected forest area has been initiated under the banner 'Greater Gir project'. With the Damocles Sword of the case of Madhya Pradesh demanding to relocated a pair of lions to their Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary also has the foresters under pressure to expand the lions' habitat.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_gir-to-go-on-a-four-month-monsoon-vacation_1264461

It's official: Panna reserve has no tiger.

14 Jun 2009, 0408 hrs IST, Suchandana Gupta, TNN

BHOPAL: It's now official: Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh has no tiger. A national park that once boasted of having over 40 tigers six
years ago, has repeated the Sariska story. State's minister for forests Rajendra Shukla confirmed on Friday what was being suspected: that the last resident tiger of the reserve sighted early this year is untraceable.

There are only two borrowed tigresses, translocated from nearby Kanha and Badhavgarh, left in the park. These were meant to accompany the last of the tiger at Panna.

A special investigation team, headed by former chief of Project Tiger P K Sen, was sent to Panna by National Tiger Conservation Authority last month. The team conducted an inquiry and interviews — all on camera — to now claim that Panna has lost all of its own tigers. The team members visited Panna again on June 10 and rechecked park's logs and documents and went back to New Delhi on Friday. The team's final report on the disappeared tigers is expected to be submitted to the Centre by the end of this month.

As the central team of wildlife investigators left, forest minister Rajendra Shukla admitted that the tiger count in Panna was zero. The state government, he said, has formed a committee to fix responsibility for the disappearance of tigers from Panna.

The latest investigation is in sharp contrast with a report published in the June 2008 edition of an environment magazine, where state principal chief conservator of forests H S Pabla had claimed that Panna was flourishing with tigers. However, in December last year, a survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) found only one surviving tiger in the national park.


More wells around Gir covered after government hikes subsidy.

Vikram Rautela Posted: Tuesday , Jun 16, 2009 at 0247 hrs IST


Following the state government’s decision to double the subsidy for covering open wells located on the periphery of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the number of wells that now stand covered has also increased in the last two months. The government used to give a grant of Rs 4,000 on each well and had increased it to Rs 8,000 in 2008.

The Forest Department had initiated the move after it was found that these uncovered wells had proved fatal for the Asiatic Lion in at least 27 cases. A total of 57 lions had fallen victim to these wells between 2001 and 2009, according to state government figures.

Since the ambitious project to barricade open wells around the sanctuary took off in September 2007, in just two months during this financial year, parapet walls have been constructed around 1,302 open wells in the immediate periphery of the sanctuary. This comes to about 650 wells a month against an average rate of less than 325-odd wells per month.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/More-wells-around-Gir-covered-after-government-hikes-subsidy/477132/

Friday, May 29, 2009

Court allows narco test on key accused in lion poaching case.

Roxy Gagdekar
Thursday, May 28, 2009 13:58 IST

Ahmedabad: A Bhavnagar court on Wednesday permitted narco test on Minter Singh, the key accused arrested from Madhya Pradesh in the 2007 lion poaching case, which is being investigated by IG (prisons) Keshav Kumar.

"Minter has so far named his Uttar Pradesh associate Shabbir Qureshi but more names would come up once Qureshi is interrogated," Kumar told DNA.

The police will soon take the custody of Qureshi, who is currently in UP police custody. "The entire trade of lion body parts is held in international market and Minter is a key link between the poachers and the international traders," Kumar said.

"We were not able to establish the exact link between the two states, till Minter named Qureshi," Kumar said. Qureshi was arrested by the UP police for allegedly selling 13 tiger skins. Minter is in the second layer in the pyramid of the lion poachers and traders in the country. "The next phase of investigation will include names of the international traders, who might had purchased the body parts of the lions," another source in CID (crime) said.

The trade of body parts of wild animals is spread across the globe and the lion poachers from the state too could have a link to it. "The poachers from the Baheriaya tribe have been arrested, booked and convicted and they had sold the lion body parts in the international market," a police source said.

Minter is considered significant for the case as he has all the vital information related to the trade. He was arrested from Kutney village in MP. A total of 36 people have been convicted for poaching of eight Asiatic lions at three different sites in and around the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in 2007. Carcasses were found at different places, including Babariya range in the Gir sanctuary as well as from Bhunduriya village in the coastal belt of Bhavnagar district, 100 km from the sanctuary.

The CID (crime) during the course of investigation found that those arrested had contacts in UP and MP. The MP-based poachers come to Gujarat to kill the lions; they later sell the body parts in MP. They have also links with people in Karnataka and UP.
Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1259709

New names surface in lion poaching case.

28 May 2009, 0326 hrs IST, Parth Shastri, TNN

AHMEDABAD: The state Crime Investigation Department (CID) officials have got crucial information about the nation-wide tiger and lion poaching
racket during the questioning of Minter Singh, who was nabbed from Katni, Madhya Pradesh on May 9 in a joint operation by CID and Madhya Pradesh forest officials.

On the basis of his confession, a team of CID (Crime) officials will get custody of another prime accused - Shabbir Hussain Qureshi from Lucknow jail early next month. Qureshi is a resident of Uttar Pradesh.

According to CID officials, they completed all the arrests in the lion poaching cases in Gujarat after Singh was arrested. A total of 18 men and 13 women have been arrested in eight lion poaching cases from three sites in the state, including Babaria forest range of Gir, where carcasses of three lions were found.

"We got court's permission on Wednesday to conduct a narco analysis test on Singh. The preliminary investigation has revealed that he used to deal with the UP-based master poacher Qureshi, who had established international links for exporting animal body parts. We have already initiated a process to get Qureshi to Gujarat to question him on his role in poaching and trade," said VV Rabari, additional director general, CID (Crime).

Keshav Kumar, IG (Prisons) and investigating officer in the poaching cases, told TOI that it is the only second case in the country where narco analysis permission for the poaching cases has been sought. "Earlier, in the same poaching cases, we had performed the test on the accused to get more details on the modus operandi of the group. Earlier, Sansar Chand was identified as the middleman for lion body parts. But, the new development has exposed a bigger inter-state nexus," said Kumar.

Talking about Qureshi's track record, officials said that when he was arrested in December 2007 from Allahabad, he had three tiger skeletons. He confessed to have sold 600 tiger skins abroad and had contacts with Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian buyers and sellers. Since tigers are not available easily, he is suspected to have eyed lions, which have a similar bone structure. Tiger bones have a huge international market, said officials.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/New-names-surface-in-lion-poaching-case/articleshow/4586238.cms

CID finds Uttar Pradesh connection in 2007 Gir lions poaching case.

Vikram Rautela
Posted: Thursday , May 28, 2009 at 0146 hrs IST

After Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh links have emerged in the Gir Asiatic lions poaching case of 2007. Gujarat Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is investigating the case, said on Wednesday that involvement of a notorious poacher from UP, Shabbir Hussan Qureshi, is being investigated and that he will be brought to Gujarat for interrogation soon.

The case had recently hogged headlines for the large number of convictions secured. A total of 36 people, including a wildlife goods trader from Karnataka, Prabhakar Keshav Gajakosh, were arrested and later convicted under provisions of both the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Qureshi, who is known to have connections in national and international poaching rackets, is presently lodged in an Allahabad jail. He was arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) of the UP Police from Lucknow with 17 tiger skins and 100 tiger bones worth Rs 20 million in November 2007.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/CID-finds-Uttar-Pradesh-connection-in-2007-Gir-lions-poaching-case/467062

Lion population in Bhavnagar increases to 25 from 14 in four years

Express News Service Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 2354 hrs IST


Within four years of the last census in 2005, further dispersion of Asiatic lions on a large- scale in areas of Bhavnagar district has been observed. From 14 in the last census, which was a record in itself, the number of lions in the green areas of the coastal belt is now 25.

The forest department has already considered declaring nearly 200 square kilometres in the district with green cover area as conserved forest for the lions. The district is located at least 100 km away from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the home of the Asiatic lion.

“In the last census, 14 big cats had been found in and around Bhavnagar. Our recent estimate puts the number at 25,” said K Randhava, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Bhavnagar (Junagadh Circle). The total number of lions in and around the sanctuary in the census was put at 359. Like Bhavnagar, dispersion has been observed towards Sutrapada (Junagadh district) and Barada (Porbandar district) in recent years. With the lion population on the rise, their further dispersion in search of more space and food has not been ruled out.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Lion-population-in-Bhavnagar-increases-to-25-from-14-in-four-years/466339

No takers for Gir Sanctuary?

Thursday, May 21, 2009 17:56 IST

Tourist inflow to the Gir National Park in Gujarat, the world's only natural habitat for the rare majestic Asiatic lions, has dipped due to the intense heat.

This year several factors have affected the number of tourists and wildlife enthusiasts from visiting the sanctuary. Apart from the rise in mercury, global recession and the Indian Premier League cricket tournament have distracted visitors to this place.

Consequently, allied services such as hotels, travel agents and taxi operators have been adversely hit.

"Sometimes we take one or two trips to the Park, but now it is even once in three days sometimes as business is bad," said Rafiq, a taxi driver.

Did you know?

Established in 1965, the Gir Forest National Park is one of the most important protected areas in Asia.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1257798

In His Majesty’s den


Wildlife splendours of the world’s only Asiatic lion habitat.


A lion resting in the Gir forest.

THE lion, a young male, lay crouched some 15 metres from the road. Realising that it had been spotted, it lowered its head and flattened its ears in an attempt to hide. I took out my camera and signalled to those behind me to stop and be silent. And, as it slowly raised its ears, I took a photograph. Then I advanced to the edge of the road to take another. The lion flattened its ears again, this time maybe as a sign of aggression, and then abruptly got up and ran away without even a growl.

My companions included four forest staff, Dr. Bivash Pandav from the WWF-International and Dr. Pranav Trivedi from the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore. I had helped several students from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun, in their research in the Gir Protected Area (1,470 sq km, which comprises the sanctuary and the national park) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pranav had been researching on peafowl here for his Master’s dissertation. Now, in the early part of February 2009, we were together on the 115-km trek from Pipadwa village in eastern Gir to Sasan in western Gir. Our aim was to quantify the lion and ungulate abundance and evaluate the status of the habitat in the park. The Gujarat Forest Department, besides giving us permission, made use of this opportunity by sending teams of staff to learn as much natural history from us as possible.

We would leave early in the morning when the temperature was a little above 20°C, walk until midday when the temperature touched 36°C, rest in the cool shade of a nallah until around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then walk the remaining distance to our destination. Every day we covered close to 20 km. Unfortunately, I could not complete the entire trek owing to personal reasons and my walk came to an end at central Gir, close to Chodavadi where I had radio-collared lions in the late 1980s. While Pranav and Bivash continued and finished the walk three days later, I returned to Sasan and Ahmedabad in a vehicle via Chodavadi, Kankai and Amla hillock, driving through this part of Gir after a span of nearly 20 years.


Besides the Gir Protected Area, which includes the Mitiyala wildlife sanctuary, other key lion habitats in Greater Gir are Girnar, the Coastal Forests and the Hipavadli zone.

The walk and the drive gave me sufficient opportunities to renew my contact with Gir and revel in the wildlife splendours of the world’s only Asiatic lion habitat. We went to bed and woke up in the mornings to the roar of lions in the Mitiyala forests – a satellite population that links the Gir lions with those of Hipavadli. We enjoyed the early morning fragrance of the snow-white flowers of Karamda (Carissa carandus) and Nevri (Ixora arborea) in the cool shades of nallahs, and watched the chinkara gazelle and the chowsingha antelope disappear over the hills in fluid leaps.

The chital, the chinkara (above, right) and the sambar. Nearly half of the Gir lion's diet is reported to be livestock and the rest comprises prey such as these.

We flushed sand grouses crouching camouflaged amidst the grasses and rocks along the burnt verges (burning is done by the Forest Department as a fire-management measure), and watched the full moon rise and bathe the golden hills in a silvery light. Once, as the near-full moon rose over the Bhimchas forests, we heard a leopard and a lion roaring repeatedly, as though challenging each other. We observed a mugger float like a log in the Rawal reservoir and admired in silence, in the headlight of our vehicle, the lithe grace of a leopard as it slunk into cover.
Historical distribution

(Top)The nilgai. There is a need to augment the prey base in Gir.(Above) A pair of painted sand grouse.

The historical distribution of the Asiatic lion, which morphologically differs from its African counterpart in having a belly fold, stretched from Syria, across West Asia to eastern India. In his book The Gir Lion, Indian Forest Service officer H.S. Singh concludes that the present range of Gir lions is limited to the three Gujarat districts of Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar, covering a total area of 8,500 sq km. If the areas recently visited by some lions, especially nomads, are also included, this range or Greater Gir is as large as 10,500 sq km. Conflict with people, in the form of depredation of cattle, is high outside the Gir Protected Area. People retaliate occasionally by poisoning the lions or electrocuting them using power stolen from government supply lines.

Besides the Gir Protected Area (which includes the Mitiyala wildlife sanctuary,18 sq km), other key lion habitats in Greater Gir are Girnar (180 sq km), the Coastal Forests (110 sq km) and the Hipavadli zone (250 sq km). The Gujarat government plans to develop the Barda area (ca 500 sq km), not connected to Greater Gir, as the second home for the lion. It intends not to restore the habitat connectivity between Barda and Greater Gir in the hope that any disease affecting Gir lions will not be transmitted to Barda lions and vice versa. Sustained and systematic efforts, on the contrary, will be made to strengthen the existing connectivities between the Gir Protected Area and the habitats of the satellite populations.


A lioness with its cubs. There was an increase in lion poaching as traders sold the animal's bones as tiger bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

One worrying problem about Gir lions, whether it is inside the protected area or outside it, is their predilection for livestock, which are easily hunted and commonly available. Nearly 50 per cent of the Gir lion diet is reported to be livestock and the rest comprises prey such as the chital, the sambar, the nilgai and the wild pig. This dependency on livestock often leads to attacks on humans, more frequently outside the protected area. Our enquiries revealed that the lions inside the Gir forest are much more tolerant of people. The people inside Gir are also capable of avoiding sudden encounters with lions – an ability not much evident in the people who live outside.

The morning we left Bhimchas on our way to Hadala we heard lions roaring at a distance. I thought two males could be fighting. The staff said they were possibly attacking maldhari (pastoralist) buffaloes near one of their nesses (camps). There was total silence after the first roar. When we returned to the road after an hour of futile search over hills and valleys, we met three maldharis. They said eight lions, including a few cubs, had attacked buffaloes and although the lions had been driven away, a calf had been injured.

Like all other protected area in the country, Gir also faces the problem of having numerous settlements on the periphery as well as inside. There are about 97 revenue villages on the periphery with a population of about 150,000 and 14 forest settlement villages with about 4,500 people and 4,000 livestock. Fortunately, except for two forest villages the rest are on the fringes of the protected area and therefore their impact on the protected area may not be serious.

Open wells such as this within the forest and in the neighbouring agricultural fields frequently take their toll on the lions.

On the first day of our trek, as we approached Gidharadi revenue village, we met villagers going into the forests for over a kilometre to collect firewood and fodder. If such a situation persists around all the revenue and forest villages and around the 50 or so maldhari nesses (which still persist in the sanctuary area outside the 250-sq km national park) then the impact on the habitat will be enormous. One way of reducing this impact would be to permit the people to use a one-kilometre belt of forest around each settlement to meet their fodder and firewood needs through plantation and fodder cultivation programmes assisted by the Forest Department and other conservation agencies.

Around 1985, forest officials in north and central India were baffled by incidents of poaching in which bones of the slain tigers were taken away. In some instances the skins were left behind. This was the time when tiger poaching for bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), was spreading into Indian tiger habitats. This depleted the tiger numbers in many of our reserves and even led to the extinction of the tiger in places such as the Sariska Tiger Reserve in 2004. No one thought that this demand for tiger bones would lead to the traders promoting lion poaching.

A Gir Maldhari (pastoralist) with his buffaloes. Villagers going into the forests for well over a kilometre to collect firewood and fodder will have an enormous impact on the habitat.

In April 2004, a lion was found in the Dedakadi forest range, near the Gir headquarters at Sasan, with its right paw nearly ripped off – a sure sign of the use of a leg-hold jaw trap, which is commonly used to kill tigers. Soon officials detected organised poaching of lions, and there were reports of bones being removed from carcasses, and it came to light that tribal poachers from Madhya Pradesh, disguised as agricultural labourers, were killing the lions. The needle of suspicion pointed persistently to the TCM business as it is difficult to differentiate bones of lions from those of tigers.

Conservationists, already upset with the episodes of tiger-poaching incidents, created a furore about the lion poaching, which made Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi visit Gir twice in April and May 2007. The Chief Minister held discussions with the village elders and senior forest officials to identify the problems that hindered effective protection. When problems such as the lack of young staff (there had been no recruitment for several decades) and the paucity of equipment such as wireless and firearms were pointed out, the Chief Minister issued orders to rectify the situation. Young villagers were recruited as watchers and forest guards and sufficient firearms and wireless sets were secured. The effectiveness of the intervention was evident when we walked through the forest – we were accompanied by many young staff and we did not come across illegal activities such as tree felling in the forests, which were reported to be rampant as late as a year ago.

However, numerous problems such as increasing pilgrimage and vehicular traffic within Gir, the threat of new developments breaking corridor connectivity, declining tolerance for wildlife in the younger generation and the rapid increase in human population in the Greater Gir area endanger the lion and its habitat. Meanwhile, some suggestions that can be more immediately addressed come to my mind.

Teak trees, which provide neither food nor quality shade in summer and whose dry leaf litter is a fire hazard, have crowded certain parts of central and western Gir. There is an urgent need to thin and remove them in certain locations so as to create open areas that will benefit the most abundant chital deer, thus increasing the prey biomass available to the lions. Open wells within the forest as well as in the neighbouring agricultural fields frequently take their toll on the lions, and such wells should be securely covered.


The Gir Protected Area has a high density of leopards.

Civil works such as unwanted construction of check dams across nallahs, which is often an eyesore in some places, should be avoided. If blackbucks can occur in the undulating hilly tracks of the Sigur range in the Nilgiris in South India, eastern Gir can also support a sizable population of blackbuck, which could augment the prey base, if a proper introduction programme is carried out. An unsuccessful attempt was made in the 1970s.

My memory goes back to a morning near Bhimchas nearly 20 years ago, when I led a research team from the WII on foot through a patch of dry, tall grass. My attention was suddenly drawn to something black that twitched in the grass. The movement and the sound made me stop and watch intently. An adult lion lay crouched facing in my direction hardly 10 metres from me. I held my breath and retreated slowly. Seeing me retreat, my colleagues fell back. The lion had only been warning me because as soon as I withdrew, the twitching, which is a sign of alertness and can be a prelude to an attack, stopped. I came out of the patch of grass without ever seeing the lion in full.

Dr. A.J.T. Johnsingh is a wildlife biologist with Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, and WWF-India

Source: http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/stories/20090605261106600.htm

Gir national park in Gujarat has artificial water pits for animals

Gir National Park, Mon, 18 May 2009 ANI

Gir National Park, May 18 (ANI): With mercury rising each passing day and natural water sources drying up, forest rangers of Gir National Park in Gujarat are digging trenches in which water is filled periodically by tractor-driven tankers for the animals to quench their thirst.

Game Wardens of the Gir sanctuary have dug around 215 cavernous wide pits in the deep jungle in which water for the animals is filled periodicallyy tractor-tankers as almost all the water sources have dried up.

According to Sandeep Kumar Singh, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, the drive to create morertificial water holes will continue till June last when the monsoon sets in here.

"This is in fact the peak period when lots of water sources dry up.Although we have around seven perennial rivers in the Gir National Park and Sanctuary. But still there is the need of managing artificial water holes. So what we do is we have a lot of artificial water holes where our staff on a regular basis, particularly two times in a day, go and fill the water so that there is no problem of water for any wild animals," said Sandeep Kumar Singh.

Established in Circa 1965, the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Sasan-Gir, is the sole home of the majestic Asiatic lions.

Covering a total area of 1412 kilometres (about 258 kilometres for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1153 kilometres for the Sanctuary), the area is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species.

The April 2005 census recorded the lion-count in Gir at 359, an increase of 32 as compared to the previous figures of 2001. By Suresh Soni (ANI)

Source: http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/98932

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tourism dips in Gir sanctuary due to heat.

19 May 2009, 1540 hrs IST, ANI

SASAN GIR (Gujarat): Tourist inflow to the Gir National Park in Gujarat, the world's only natural habitat for the rare majestic Asiatic lions,
has dipped due to the intense heat.

This year several factors have affected the number of tourists and wildlife enthusiasts from visiting the sanctuary.

Apart from the rise in mercury, global recession and the Indian Premier League cricket tournament have distracted the prospective visitors to this place.

Consequently, allied services such as hotels, travel agents and taxi operators have been adversely hit.

"Due to the heat and the IPL cricket matches, the tourist inflow is less. There are about 70 vehicles here. Sometimes we take one or two trips to the Park, but now it is even once in three to four days sometimes. The business is quite bad," said Rafiq, a taxi driver.

However, the officials manning the sanctuary sounded optimistic by saying that this is just a seasonal phenomenon and the tourist inflow would increase when the heat decreases.

They also pointed out that there is a particular time to visit the park as such tourist inflow is not that bad.

"For the time being this maybe the reason. But we are getting more tourists. Everyday the number is increasing. And there is a time to visit the forest," said Sandeep Kumar Singh, Divisional Forest Officer, Gir National Park.

Established in the year 1965, the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary covers a total area of 1412 kilometres (about 258 kilometres for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1153 kilometres for the Sanctuary).

This region is regarded as one of the most important protected areas in Asia.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Flora--Fauna/Tourism-dips-in-Gir-sanctuary-due-to-heat-/articleshow/4551752.cms

Of Cats, Weekly Feline News.

Been busy this past week but fortunately found time enough to post the feline news today. So, here they go...

Bengal TigerFirst tigers and there's report of a very disturbing incident here. Naval officers in Thailand were shocked when they found grisly animal remains after making a recent smuggling bust. According to details a gang of eight was trying to illegally transport animals across the border into neighboring Laos when it was apprehended by the Thai Navy. The authorities found carcasses of two dead tigers and pangolins as well as forty three live pangolins - who were undoubtedly destined for a terrible fate had they not been rescued. So a very sad incident which highlights the continuing menace of poaching and illegal animal trade in Southeast Asia that is threatening the endangered species of cats and other mammals. You can find more about this and other similar incidents in the past by going to the website of TRAFFIC, the organization that monitors wildlife trade, but be warned of the graphic nature of images there.

Staying with tigers - there is good news too. Two of the states in India have reported a rise in the number of their bengal tigers. In Jaipur, there has been an overall increase in the number of wild animals including tigers, leopards and sloth bears. And in Kerala, ten new tigers have been sighted in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Positive signs amid desperate times for the tiger. More on the above here and here. And for an interesting and realistic look at the state of tiger conservation in India, go here.

To the mangrove forest in Sunderban, Bangladesh. Two separate attacks on people by tigers. Whilst in one account the tiger was able to make away with a fisherman who was collecting firewood deep in the forest, in the other case a father and son bravely fought off a maneating tiger - a very rare and fortunate occurrence indeed. More on the two attacks here and here. And to learn more about the tigers of Sunderban and an analysis of the ongoing conflict between them and people, go here.

In Kaziranga National Park a boat has been donated by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation to combat wildlife poaching and smuggling. Kaziranga has been recently hit by a spate of tiger and rhino poaching incidents. The provision of this new boat, which will patrol the adjoining river in search of poachers, is set to aid the authorities there in helping wildlife. The full report here.

Asiatic LionLions. And the news is good here. The Asiatic Lions in Gir, India, are set to benefit from over a hundred water holes that have been dug there by the local authorities. It's summer there and the lions are increasingly venturing outside the park to establish new territories. The water holes will help the big cats in sustaining themselves. More on this here.

And the Asiatic Lions will now be tracked through modern GPS collars in India. This has been recommended by a task force there. The tracking system is to receive a general overhaul that will help in the study of lions as well as minimize conflict with people. The full recommendations of the task force here.

JaguarFor Jaguars - there is both good and bad news, relating to their habitat. While the US government has approved the funding of over one hundred million dollars for the rain forests that make up the home of these great cats in South America, the government in Brazil is taking steps that do not bode well for the Amazon, and the environment in general. Whereas the US law aims to check deforestation and climate change by providing debt relief to tropical nations in exchange for their commitment to conserve forests and coral reefs, the law proposed by Brazil will grant land rights for illegally occupied property in the Amazon. This will pave way for further clearing of the forests and irreparable damage to the ecosystem there. More on the two laws here and here.

LeopardTo the leopards. The Snow Leopard Trust is set to benefit from the sale of alcohol! This has come about after Whyte & Mackay, the Glasgow based makers of world's first 'ethically distilled' vodka decided to donate fifteen percent of their profits to the trust. More on the above here. And you can reach the website of the Trust here.

And a woman has been arrested and sentenced in Oregon over charges of violating the Endangered Species Act. The woman, a Ukrainian National, had imported three leopard skins from the Democratic Republic of Congo but unfortunately for her, an error by the shipping department resulted in her undoing! To read the interesting story behind her capture go here.

CheetahTo Cheetahs and there is good news here too. A Cheetah birth has been recorded in The Nairobi National Park in Kenya after many years. This after years of adverse climate and prey conditions in the park. The birth is a positive sign for the population of the beautiful felines there. More here.

And for the first time - the critically endangered Saharan Cheetah has been recently photographed by a camera trap. A remarkable event that will buoy the hopes of the scientists and conservationists working to protect these endangered cats. The full account here.

Source: http://www.ofcats.com/2009/05/weekly-feline-news_17.html

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tiger, panther, sloth bear population increases.

15 May 2009, 0541 hrs IST, Anindo Dey, TNN

JAIPUR: There is good news for wildlife enthusiasts. The tiger populace in the state might have just registered an increase from the last

According to officials of the forest department, initial estimates of the tiger population in the state suggest that the count stands somewhere at 40 tigers, a minimum increase of atleast five tigers from the last count in 2008.

"The figures released by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, in February 2008 had put the count of tigers to somewhere between 32 and 35. This year we have just finished the count of tigers in all the tigers reserves of the state and though the analysis of the data is still pending but initial estimates suggest that the count may be somewhere around 40," officials of the state forest department revealed.

The official said that it would take some more time to finish analysing the data and the final count would only be available by the end of the month.

However, the chief wildlife warden, Rajasthan, R N Mehrotra refused to divulge any details and said, "It is too early to comment. But the count of all the mammals in the state has increased."

The tiger count in the state had begun in March and the method of trap camera was used for it. The count was done along with the WII.

"While the count was exclusively done for an estimate of the tiger population in the park but the trap camera would also be clicking other animals. It would also help us in earmarking areas where the tigers have marked their territory," he said.

"There have been many births at the Ranthambore tiger reserve since the last census, the biggest reserve in the state. But there have been casualties and three tigers were relocated to Sariska," the official said.

Another surprising feature of the count of other wild animals, that was done separately, has shown a remarkable increase in the panther population too. In fact, panthers were spotted at 35 places in Sariska and 45 places in Udaipur. Ranthambore has also registered an increase in the number of sloth bears.

Panther killed

JAIPUR: A panther was killed at the Ranthambore national park on Thursday morning by a tiger. This is the second of its kind incident at the park. Earlier, on April 2 a similar incident had occurred at the Baacola area of the park. Officials of the park revealed that like last time this time too, it was probably a male tiger that killed the panther. "By the time we recovered the body, the panther had been badly mauled by the tiger," he said. tnn

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Jaipur/Tiger-panther-sloth-bear-population-increases/articleshow/4531917.cms