Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gujarat government cuts Chinese manja ahead of Uttarayan.

Published: Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010, 15:40 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

Gujarat government's forest and environment department has woken up early this year to the threat of the deadly Chinese manja and the fatal damage it cause to the birds in the sky.
A notification seeking complete ban on Chinese and any kind of plastic threads to fly kites has been imposed in the state. Taking the safety of birds very seriously this time, foresters have also requested citizens not to fly kites close to dawn and dusk as that is the time when they fly in and out of their nests the most.
"The ban on any kind of plastic manja will be imposed very strictly this time. Those found violating it will be booked. Keeping in mind birds' feeding and nesting habits, we have requested people to refrain from flying kites between 5-7 in the evening and 6-8 in the morning," principal secretary forest and environment, SK Nanda said.
Sources added that steps to spread awareness about the damage manja causes to the birds will be spelt out in the days to come, through which it is hoped people will not fly kites at dawn and dusk when the birds fly out the most.
Chinese manja splits the body of the bird and often causes permanent damage to the creatures.
Last year, the notification was announced just days before the Uttarayan festival in mid-January and it was difficult to implement it as sellers had already stocked up the Chinese manja.
Moreover, there was no monitoring mechanism put in place by the government authorities to check the use of the banned manja.
This time however, authorities are more alert. It is still feared, though, that those manja sellers whose material is left over from the previous year may put in the market the banned products to avoid business losses.
Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_gujarat-government-cuts-chinese-manja-ahead-of-uttarayan_1474433

BJP leader to seek Modi’s help to save leopards.

Kamaal Saiyed Tags : wildlife, man eater leopard, Posted: Tue Nov 30 2010, 04:25 hrs Surat:

Even as forest officials and shooters hunt for the maneater leopard that has killed four persons in the Mandvi region over the last few months, local nagarpalika president Jagdish Parekh of the BJP is rallying locals against the shoot-at-sight orders given by the forest department and says he has even sought a meeting with Chief Minister Narendra Modi to help save the endangered species.
Parekh, an architect by profession, says he plans to soon launch a website "Save leopards of Mandvi- Surat and Upcountry."
The BJP leader wants Modi to earmark 250 sq km of land in Mandvi taluka as a habitat for these leopards where pigs and goats could be provided for the big cats so that their birth rate is maintained.
Parekh feels the leopards of South Gujarat are its beauty and will soon become national treasure.
"We know over 25 leopards have entered villages in Mandvi taluka while hundreds of them are still there in the Dangs. These animals are shy in nature and don't attack humans but due to the shortage of food in the deep forests of the Dangs, they have strayed to Tapi and Surat districts," he said, adding killing them is no answer. 
Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/bjp-leader-to-seek-modis-help-to-save-leopards/717917/

Monday, November 29, 2010

Relocation of 376 Families and 3 Forest Villages from Gir Lion Reserves.

Preparatory measures for relocation including adequate publicity in local language have been undertaken for relocation of 376 families and 3 forest villages from Gir Lion Reserve. This has been informed by the Government of Gujarat to the Ministry The Government of Gujarat has submitted a proposal titled 'A plan for consolidating long term conservation of Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) at the Greater Gir region including the Gir Protected Area System'. The proposal also includes a component for relocation of 376 families and 3 forest villages from Gir.
The Planning Commission has ‘in principle’ approved an amount of Rs.262.36 crores for a period of five years for this project proposal and suggested that financial assistance under the project may be met out of the ongoing scheme of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’. As the fund allocation under the scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ is meager, the project for lion could not be accommodated within this scheme.
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 Shri Natuji Halaji Thakor in Rajya Sabha today.

Source: http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=67751

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

50 Gir lionesses expecting cubs.

Forest dept is monitoring these wild cats, which are likely to give birth early next year
Dilip Patel
Posted On Monday, November 22, 2010 at 02:46:19 AM

The pride is set to grow; 50 lionesses in the Gir sanctuary are pregnant and are expected to give birth early next year. The development has thrilled the state forest department, which has started monitoring these wild cats through GPS and has asked beat guards to be extra vigilant.
According to a census conducted earlier this year, there are 411 Asiatic lions in Gir, the last natural abode of such cats in the world. In 2005, when the previous count was held, this figure was 359.
“We are very happy that 50 lionesses are pregnant. Our efforts to limit the movement of vehicles during the mating period of lions have yielded results,” Principal Secretary to the Forest Department S K Nanda told Mirror.  Restrictions on vehicular movement in and around the sanctuary would continue to be in place, he said.
“Vehicles will not be allowed to enter the forest. Outside the sanctuary, speed limits have been introduced,” Nanda said. “During pregnancy, lionesses move slowly. We are tracking their movements through GPS. Beat guards are also keeping a watch.”
Expectant cats are likely to give birth in January and February. The survival rate of cubs, which are often killed by lions looking to mate with their partners again, is low. However, this time forest officials feel more cubs will survive because for the past one year elder lionesses have been looking after young members of the pride.
“We have seen that old females protect cubs from adult males. In fact, the number of attacks on cubs by adult males has come down,” a Gir official said. The population of adult Asiatic lionesses in Gir is more than that of adult males. There are 162 adult females and 97 adult males.
This year’s census also revealed that there are 77 cubs. Nearly 40 per cent of the lion population is young and this bodes well for the future of the Asiatic beast.
Last year, the state government announced a special package of Rs 40 crore for the region. Forest officials were provided more staff and better equipment to prevent unnatural deaths of the wild cats. Earlier, on an average 10 cubs used to die every year after falling in open wells. Today, majority of open wells have been covered. 
Source: http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/article/3/2010112220101122024619760b772f5f6/50-Gir-lionesses-expecting-cubs.html

Gir sanctuary roads to be closed at night.

Manas Dasgupta
An Asiatic lion in the Gir wild life sanctury in Junagadh district of Gujarat.
PTI An Asiatic lion in the Gir wild life sanctury in Junagadh district of Gujarat.
The Gujarat government will close all roads passing through the Gir national sanctuary — the only abode of Asiatic Lions — during nights.
The decision, according to Forest and Environment Department Principal Secretary S. K. Nanda, is to ensure the safety of the lions and other animals in the Gir forest in view of numerous cases of accidents and killing or injuring the animals by speeding vehicles.
1500-sq km area
Spread over a 1,500-square kilometre area, including about 900 square km of protected forest zone, the Gir has 411 Asiatic lions, about 300 of them inside the protected zone, as per the latest census, besides numerous other animals.
The animals move freely at night, frequently falling victim to the passing vehicles.
About 10 important roads pass through the Gir forest connecting Junagadh with Amreli, Sasan with Talala, Visavadar with Dhari and several other small and medium towns on the periphery of the sanctuary area. According to one estimate, about 600 vehicles pass through the Gir forest every night, many of them at high speed.
Besides endangering the safety of the animals, the speeding vehicles also cause environment and noise pollution, disrupting the peace of the animals.
Mr. Nanda said in addition to banning vehicular traffic through the forest in the nights, the government had also constructed speed-breakers at regular intervals to ensure that even during the day hours, the vehicles could not rush beyond 40 kilometre per hour speed.
He said steps would be taken to ensure that the entrance to all the roads passing through the Gir forest were closed at sunset to be opened only after sunrise the next day.
Exception in emergency
However, in case of emergencies, vehicles would be given special permission to pass through the sanctuary area at night, he said.
Similar attempts were made in the past also to restrict vehicular traffic through the forest areas in the nights but could not be implemented due to stiff opposition from the people in the villages living within the sanctuary area.
The trading community in the peripheral areas also opposed any such move because the distances between any two points increase by about 50 to over 100 kilometre if they had to skirt around the sanctuary zone for the transshipment of the goods.
But this time the government was “serious” and would not bow down to the local pressures, the Forest Department sources said.
Source: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/article904059.ece

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tourism activities increase.

AHMEDABAD: The hopes of a increase in the tourism activity in and around Sasan and Dhari area, has not only drawn the attention of the businessman for setting up five luxury hotel but towards Dhari the land prices have almost doubled in the past few months.
Reasons: Towards Sasan, the Hindi film Icon Amitabh Bachchan's visit to Gir Sanctuary has drawn attention of businessmen to tap possible flow of high-end tourists in the Asiatic Lion's abode. Around five luxury hotel projects are on the anvil near the Gir forest.
While towards, Dhari the land prices have almost doubled as the State Government has began the process of setting up an interpretation center on the lines of Devalia in Ambardi area.
Officials said that the prices of the land which were priced between 1.5 to tthree lakh per bigah was now priced at 6-7 lakhs. Sources said that towards the Dhari-Sarasia and Tulsishyam road the prices have suddenly increased. The Government has recently begun the development of the Ambardi interpretation zone which has raised hope of increased tourist activity. Officials said that the number of those visiting Devalia was 1,35,200.
Meanwhile the Amitabh impact can also be seen towards Sasan. The developers are not only from within Gujarat but brand like Tata and Club Mahindra are amongst the few to extend its presence in lion country. Tata group is re-opening 29-room 'Gir Lodge' with newly developed brand 'Gateway'. Tatas have taken a property on lease from Tourism Corporation of Gujarat (TCGL) way back in 1995. However, the hotel with picturesque view of Hiran River and the Vasadoor hills in Sasan is closed since a decade.
"Sasan is already a unique product and now it is powered by iconic brand Amitabh Bachchan. Asiatic Lion Safari, a world class product has been justified with the mega campaign, which would boost high-end tourism in the region. Looking to the fact, decision to renovate the property has been taken. We plan to re-open the hotel before the end of March 2011," said PK Mohankumar, COO The Gateway Hotel.
Club Mahindra has come into lease agreement with the promoters of Wonderland Resort that was commissioned only last year. The pact was inked immediately after the superstar completed shooting inside the forest last month," said a source active in the 3-star resort.
Rajkot based Sanjayraj Group, which is having interest in Real-estate, hospitality and education is also developing a 5-star category resort on 30 acres of land. "We are developing eco-friendly theme based resort at an estimated cost of Rs 30 crore (excluding land). The 100 room property is aimed at attracting high-end domestic as well as foreign tourists," said Indranil Rajguru, chairman of the company.
Another Rajkot based realty company Kotecha Group is in the process to commission a 4-star hotel in December this year. "Construction of 30 room property was kicked start six months back. Now we have decided to speed-up the work to open the hotel in this tourist season only," said Kishor Kotecha, director of the company.
Ahmedabad based realty firm Popular Group is diversifying into hospitality to develop 5-star eco-friendly resort near Sasan on 30 acres of land. Nilay Patel, CEO of the group said that the company is in the process of acquiring land.
Even Gujarat government is also in the process of creating 'Little Africa', an eco-friendly resort in a bid to provide employment to youth of the African-origin Sidi community settled in Saurashtra region. The theme-based 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 Rs. 10 crore project (excluding land).
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Tourism-activities-increase/articleshow/6943745.cms

Farmers have field day hosting 'sleep with lions' for tourists.

AHMEDABAD: Some tourists who did the Asiatic lion tour in Diwali took the Big B line - "Agar aap sher dil hai to rahiye sheron ke sath" - in the Gujarat tourism ad campaign, 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki,' very seriously. These bravehearts who ventured into the heavily-packed Gir in the Diwali vacations were forced to spend the nights in the open fields in make shift tents, right in the den of the jungle king.
With the tourism infrastructure unable to cope with the tourist traffic, local farmers set up makeshift tents in their fields and let them out to make a quick buck. These tents were all over the field on a 10 to 15 km stretch between Sasan and Talala. Each of these tents were available for Rs 500-1000 per night, depending on what facilities one asked for.
A senior forest officer admitted that the proposition was fraught with risk as tents were set up exactly where wild animals, especially big cats prowled at nights. However, the forest department was not in a position to do anything, as fields were in the revenue area.
Also, since these tents were in private fields there prerequisite permission was not required. Officials said that Sasan Gir could host over 5000 guests daily, but the room capacity in Gir was barely of 400 beds. Of these, around 200 beds were in good hotels, while the rest were in shabby places and even these were occupied.
This year, Gir, between November 4 and November 13, saw over 33,000 tourists who took the lion safari. However, this figure was almost double as several people chose to visit Devaliya park after failing to get permits for Gir.
Officials said that beat guards networked with farmers to set up these tents and entered into a business partnership with them where they got a commission for every tourist they recommended for these farm stays.
A farmer refusing to be identified said the villagers had set up over 20 tents, and from November 6 to15 all these tents were booked. He said that the guests were warned that they would only get tents to sleep in and no other services would be available.
Another beat guard said that he had earned around Rs 20,000 through this network. He had partnered with a farmer and had taken tourist who could not find accommodation and got 30 per cent of what the farmer earned. He said that they had around 10 tents in one field and another 10 in nearby field.
State tourism minister Jaynarayan Vyas admits that tourism facilities are lacking in the state. "Tourism was no where in the focus in the past. It was only before three years that the tourism was given its due weightage. This is a service sector and one has to constantly go in for upgradation of the facilities," he said.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Farmers-have-field-day-hosting-sleep-with-lions-for-tourists/articleshow/6943734.cms

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SRK hunting for plot in lion's den?

AHMEDABAD: After Sachin Tendulkar inked a property deal in a 700-acre golf course in Ahmedabad, it is now the turn of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who is said to be looking for land in the home of Asiatic lion in Gir.
Sources said Shah Rukh Khan and television producer Ekta Kapoor have already made inquiries for land on the outskirts of the protected Gir sanctuary, which is the only home for Asiatic lion in the world. Khan, say local sources, has shown interest in a plot located between Haripur and Jalandhar villages on the outskirts of the Gir forest in Junagadh district.
Earlier this month, Tendulkar had invested in a property in the Kensville Golf and Country Club near Ahmedabad.
GD Gajera, talati-cum-mantri of Jalandhar village, which is near the Devaliya Interpretation Zone for Asiatic lions, told TOI, "We too have learnt that there are some negotiations going on between locals and estate brokers. But the deal is yet to be clinched".
Sources said a farmer in Haripur had decided to sell off his land to the star. According to sources, Khan's office in Mumbai was still to clarify for what purpose he wanted the land. It is believed to be for a farmhouse. The film star's office was in contact with local estate brokers, who are expected to be in Junagadh on Saturday to get land records.
Officials said the only condition the buyer party has put forth is that the farmhouse has to be in the vicinity of the national park. When contacted, Haripur sarpanch Ramnikbhai Naranyanbhai said, "We have heard that Khan and Kapoor are looking for land near Sasan". He said Khan's office had probably zeroed in on a plot near Hiran river which passes through Gir forest. The owner of the land is a Gujarati based in Mumbai.
When contacted, Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (headquarters), said, "We don't have any knowledge about this".
Read more: SRK hunting for plot in lion's den? - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/SRK-hunting-for-plot-in-lions-den/articleshow/6917741.cms#ixzz15XREcV5S

Tourists Flock to Asiatic Lion Reserve in Western India.

Please visit below link to show video.
Thousands of tourists are flocking to the Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in India's Gujarat state to watch Asiatic lions.
The state's forest department has doubled the daily permit quotas for entry to the sanctuary to keep up with the heavy tourist rush. Officials say numbers are after one Bollywood celebrity endorsed the park.
Tourists had to face lack of accommodation due to the crowds.
[Hasrat Khan, Tourist]:
"This place is very crowded. We can't find a hotel here because of the crowds.”
Although the tourism advertisements were a success, tourists complain of commercial exploitation by hotels and restaurants to cash in on the increased inflow.
The wildlife sanctuary is the only place where Asiatic lions exist in their natural habitat.
Source: http://english.ntdtv.com/ntdtv_en/ns_asia/2010-11-12/204159622808.html

Gir braces for a lion’s share of tourists, hotels on a leash.

With record-breaking influx of tourists at Sasan, the only home to Asiatic Lions at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the Junagadh district administration has for the first time stepped in to contain commercial exploitation of tourists by hotels and restaurants at a time when the state government is showcasing Gir as the tourism hotspot in Gujarat.
The local administration claimed that Khusboo Gujarat Ki campaign, a series of tourism advertisements featuring Amitabh Bachchan, has been a success. As a result, the number of tourists at Sasan this Diwali has gone up almost two-fold than the previous years. Some 20 hotels and resorts in the area have been booked full to their capacity till mid-November.
The forest department too has been on its toes as it has doubled the permit quota per day for the GWS to accommodate heavy tourist rush.
“The result of advertisement campaign is there to see for us in the first season itself. Sasan has been flooded with tourists like never before,” said local mamlatdar Rekhaba Servaiya, adding that “the same administration has stepped up vigil to prevent exploitation of tourists”. 
Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/gir-braces-for-a-lions-share-of-tourists-hotels-on-a-leash/707504/

It’s roaring biz for Gir courtesy Big B.

AHMEDABAD: The roar of lions showcased by superstar Amitabh Bachchan in the Gujarat Tourism campaign seems to be yielding fruitful results for the Gir Sanctuary .
The sanctuary has witnessed such a good response from the tourists that it is completely booked for the fortnight till November 15 — a record in the last 15 years for this only abode of the Asiatic lion.
Ever since the sanctuary re-opened on October 15, on an average, 70 to 80 permits were issued daily. The upper limit for issuing permits was 90 permits per day.
However till November 11, there is no room in Sinh Sadan and even the advance permits issued to casual visitors are over booked.
Officials said that of the 90 permits issued daily, about 50 per cent were issued in advance. And now the first available advance permit is of November 15. According to officials, not just the Sinh Sadan, which is the official guest house of the forest department, but even hotel owners were having a great time. Of these 45 advance permits, over 25 were pocketed by the hotel owners.
In Sinh Sadan, majority of rooms barring the VIP room have been booked in advance. “The permits are issued for those who pre-plan their trips, but we don’t have any advance permits. On an average, roughly 70 permits have been issued ever since the sanctuary reopened ,” Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest, headquarter, told TOI.
Kumar said that even Devaliya, the interpretation zone, has also seen a rise in the number of tourists. “It has been noticed that the number of schools coming here for picnics has seen a sharp rise. After visiting Devaliya , schools head for Somnath,” he said. Kumar said the figures of the first 15 days of last year cannot be compared to this year, for Diwali festival last year was soon after the sanctuary opened, and hence number of tourists was bigger