Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lionesses deaths in Gir: forest dept arrests one.

PTI | 10:04 PM,Apr 16,2011 Ahmedabad, Apr 16 (PTI) Gujarat forest department has arrested one person in connection with the death of two lionesses on March 27 in the Gir (east) forest region, in Khamba taluka of Amreli district. "We have arrested a man called Kalu Vagha Rathod, on the basis of circumstantial evidence that he was involved in the death of two lionesses on March 27," Range Forest Officer Manishwar Raja told PTI. Forest department sources said there were no external injury marks on the dead bodies and it seemed to be a case of food- or water-poisoning. Both the lionesses were around nine years old and belonged to the same pride. The bodies were found near a pond on outskirts of Kantara village. As per the 2010 census, Gir has around 410 lions.

Did ‘oral orders’ drive range forest officer to his death?

Published: Sunday, Apr 17, 2011, 10:15 IST
By Jumana Shah | Place: Gandhinagar | Agency: DNA

The freak suicide of Yadvendrasinh Chauhan has exposed the deep-rooted rot of corruption in government systems in general and in the prestigious Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation in particular.
The story so far has been that Chauhan, a DFO in GEER had demanded reimbursements for work he'd done for the organisation.
Officials at GEER, he claimed in his suicide note, had demanded bribe to release the money legitimately due to him. An FIR has been filed in Adalaj police station against director Bharat Pathak and two other officials.
The amount in question is to the tune of Rs10 lakh, of which Rs7 lakh had been paid to him over the past one year and the remaining Rs 3lakh was due. The question that arises is why there was such a hullabaloo over Chauhan's claim for work that was officially assigned to him?
Because, parts of the tasks assigned to him were done 'orally'.For a senior officer to 'give oral orders' refers to assigning important tasks to subordinates without a written sanction.This is an unaccepted practice in government departments, but, as this case has exposed, often used by senior officers.
In fact, highly placed sources confide that lately this practice has been rampant in the department. Most importantly, these 'irregularities' have been pointed out to all the officials in the forest and environment department and the chief secretary by the Gujarat Forest Services association on several occasions.
But absolutely no action has been taken. Shocked by the death of Chauhan, his former colleagues and peers in the services believe that he has been a victim not of the greed of one or two officers, who allegedly demanded bribe from him, but of a deep decay of massive corruption in the system which is being conveniently ignored by the government.
Significantly, GEER Foundation is headed by the chief minister directly and all communication in this matter has been marked to him. But, sources claim there never has been any response from the CMO to letters shot by the association over corruption charges.
“The CM office on the other hand has received international awards for prompt response to any communication with them,” they put rather acidically.
The copy of one such letter written in early 2009, in possession of DNA, clearly states that this practice of giving oral orders was being followed and tasks and expenses out of the purview of the organisation was being undertaken.
The letter states that officers would refuse to sign documents when approached for official sanction. Additional principal chief conservator of forest CN Pandey held the post of director at GEER for a-not-very-common seven long years between 2004 and 2010.
"Senior officers orally give instructions to execute an ambitious project. This is typically done to put showcase projects, like the butterfly park in this case, on the fast track, to impress the powers that be. The responsibility for theproject is with the lower rung officials but the power to sanction the money continues with top bosses," said a reliable source, refusing to be identified for fear of backlash. Not deciding the contours of the project at the outset itself leads to submission of exaggerated claims by executing teams. "For example, work worth Rs1 lakh would be claimed as Rs10 lakh. As there was no sanction to begin with, documents would be forged to clear these claims.Irregularities galore. This is a very very common practice in the entire forest department," said a forester, underlining 'very' several times over.
"Mind you, this is all tax-payers' money," he smiles. In Chauhan's case, this is clearly what has happened. "Because he was under pressure to execute an ambitious project, though orally assigned to him, he perhaps went as far as to pour money from his own pocket to finish it. He was assured by his seniors that the money will be 'adjusted' and granted to him. But that didn't happen and there was a change of guard. The new officials were in the process of 'regularising' the processes, when Chauhan lost patience and committed suicide," he elaborated.
Former director of GEER foundation CN Pandey, however, said he was not aware of the letters written by GFS association and refused to be quoted on the issue.
Chauhan's case, another source adds, is merely the tip of the iceberg. The question is why has the government not taken action to control the rot in the system?"Prosecuting one or two officials is not going to help. No one man is responsible for 'abetting' Chauhan's suicide. It is the corrupt system that has claimed his life," says the veteran officer with firm conviction.
Minister of state for environment and forest Mangubhai Patel refused to comment on the allegations of corruption in GEER or any action to be taken for internal irregularities. He dismissed the question by saying, "I am in Navsari right now and I don't know anything about it (the allegations of corruption). I am aware that an RFO has committed suicide and police are doing their job. I have nothing to add," he said.

Gujarat's Girnar ropeway project gets green signal.

Published: Tuesday, Apr 26, 2011, 15:12 IST | Updated: Tuesday, Apr 26, 2011, 15:13 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

The forest officials in Gujarat heaved a sigh of relief on Monday afternoon when the union ministry of environment and forest gave the final go-ahead for the Girnar Ropeway Project, despite one of the main pre-conditions - that of re-aligning the towers to avoid the vultures' breeding sites — not being altered by the state government.
Principal secretary, environment and forest, SK Nanda said it is not feasible to re-align the route, but the other pre-conditions will be met.
"A monitoring committee will be set up to supervise the progress of the work. In a unique initiative, cameras will be installed in the top and middle station to understand what time the birds move around in different seasons and the trolleys will be rescheduled accordingly," he said.
The project has been in the pipeline for nearly 15 years now, but it gained momentum in the last three years as the number of pilgrims to the holy Girnar shrine on the top of the hill increased.
The controversy has been about man-animal conflict of wildlife conservation vis-à-vis human needs. Naturalists in the region claim the site, where the ropeway is designed to come up, passes through the nesting sites of the extremely endangered 69 Girnari Geedh (vulture) nests.
Moreover, the Girnar reserve forest has been declared a wildlife sanctuary in 2008 and is home to around 25 Asiatic Lions, as per the census of 2010.
Both the political parties have been pitching for the ropeway and when the final announcement came on Monday afternoon, Congress immediately took the credit for it by circulating the news and issuing a press statement thanking the MoEF.
The work on the Ropeway is expected to start soon and it is expected to conclude in approximately a year's time. Nanda added that a cess of Rs5 will be charged on the ticket which will be used for the conservation of the lions and vultures.

Girnar ropeway gets Central nod.

Express News ServicePosted: Apr 26, 2011 at 0502 hrs IST

Rajkot z MoEF announces formation of committee to address environmental concerns

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Monday gave the green signal to the original plan for the Girnar Ropeway project, which was stalled for the past 16 years due to environment concerns.
The MoEF has announced formation of a monitoring committee to address environmental concerns, primarily vulture roosting.

The Rs 120-crore ropeway project is expected to give a big boost to tourism, and work, expected to begin within a month, is likely to be completed in two years.
Junagadh Mayor Satish Virda said: “A committee chaired by Union Minister Jairam Ramesh gave a green signal to the project on Monday. Our 16-year-long wait has ended. Not only
Junagadh, I think entire Saurashtra is feeling elated.”
In February this year, the MoEF had given the in-principle approval to the ropeway project with a condition that its alignment be changed to protect the vulture population on Mount Girnar. Four routes were considered and the state government later informed the Centre that the original plan from Bhavnath Taleti was the best option and that the other options were not feasible.
The Monitoring Committee that will be formed now will have representatives from the Central and state governments, NGOs and experts.
The Sadhu Samaj has welcomed the decision. Gopalnandji Bapu, head of Akhik Bhartiya Sadhu Samaj,
Gujarat, said the wish of several lakh tourists visiting Mount Girnar every year has finally come true.
The Jains were among the first to raise objection to the ropeway project when it was first proposed in 1995. The hills are home to several Jain temples and the community had feared that a ropeway project would turn the pilgrimage site into a tourist spot.
Later environmentalists also raised concerns. The hills are home to the endangered Girnari Giddhs (vultures) and the project could pose threat to the birds.
Incidentally, Jairam had while giving in-principle approval to the ropeway project, underlined the need for Centre’s approval, as Mount Girnar was included in the Girnar Natural Reserve Forest and Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary in 2008.
Girnar has five principal peaks — Ambaji, Gorakhnath, Guru Dattatrya, Oghad Ansuya and Kalka. Ambaji is the highest peak at 3,400 feet and is located 5,000 steps uphill from the base. There are a total of 9,999 from the base to Guru Dattatrya — the last point on Girnar hills. But one has to climb down from Ambaji and then make the ascent to Guru Dattatrya, which is lower in height than Ambaji.
The ropeway project will provide connectivity up to Ambaji. There are Jain and Hindu temples on these peaks.
According to the blue print, the alignment is along the Bhavnath Taleti route, which is on the foothills of Mount Girnar in Junagadh city. Bhavnath Taleti falls in the revenue area. Along with the Bhavnath Taleti revenue area, seven hectares of Gir Reserve
Forest area costing Rs 90 crore has already been diverted for the project.
The ropeway distance between Bhavnath Taleti and Ambaji is 2.3 km and the height gained by the ropeway will be 850 meters

Gujarat to rehabilitate jobless doliwalahs.

TNN, Apr 26, 2011, 03.07am IST
AHMEDABAD: The Girnar ropeway project will rehabilitate several people who were earning a living by ferrying devotees to the pilgrim centres on palanquin. These 70 people will be out of job after the ropeway comes from Bhavnath Taleti to Ambaji temple.
Principal secretary forest and environment S K Nanda said that when the project was designed in September 1995, it was found that the life span of these doliwalahs was not more than 50 years, owing to the labourious task of carrying pilgrims up the 2.3 km stretch which had some 5,000 stairs. "This job was adversely affecting these 70 people who ferried people on a palanquin," said Nanda.
Nanda added that a committee was formed and it was decided to rehabilitate these doliwalahs and that they would get jobs under various projects. "Some would be given shops at the Bhavnath Taleti or at the Ambaji temple for snacks, flowers and other offerings for the temple. Some of them will also be employed as cabin operators by the company which will set up the project," said Nanda.
Forest officials said when he project was finalised, there were 95 such doliwalahs. However, their number has dwindled and as per the last reports, there were not more than 70 doliwalahs who were still in the business. They added that some might even continue in the business only for the weak and disabled pilgrims who want to visit the Jain temples. The ropeway will be a straight alignment from Bhavnath Taleti and will end at Ambaji temple. However, for those wanting to visit the Jain temples, they will have to go down nearly 2,000 steps from the ropeway station.
Officials said, as per an estimate of 100 devotees only 30 visit Jain temple while the rest only visit Ambaji temple.

Girnar ropeway to give way to vultures.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN, Apr 26, 2011, 03.05am IST
AHMEDABAD: The ride on the rope-way to Ambaji Temple may have you stopping briefly, mid-air. No need to panic, especially if you are a nature lover. Not many would mind giving the way to the endangered vultures who nest in Girnar forest.
The vultures' movement will be specially monitored by high resolution cameras. "Based on the visual inputs, the ropeway cabins may have to be stopped briefly to allow vultures flying away or preparing to get to their nests," said forest officials.
While giving the final nod to the project, the union minister of forest and environment, Jairam Ramesh, had specified that the ropeway project should minimise the man-animal conflict in Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

The cameras would be especially installed to ensure that the vultures are not adversely affected by the Girnar ropeway project. The Ministry of environment and forest while laying down the condition stated that to minimize disturbance to the nesting, roosting and ranging sites of the long-billed vultures the company Usha Breco limited will have to increase height of towers and also install high resolution cameras on the ninth tower to watch vultures and prevent cable cars from hitting them.
Deepak Kaplish, the incharge of the project for Usha Breco said that the height of each tower would be increased by nearly 3 meter to six meter. This would ensure total safety for the vulture. He said the height of the pillars would range from 43 meter to 73 meters.
Forest officials said that if any movement of the vulture is spotted, the operator-company will immediately stop the movement of the cable car from both sides till these long-billed vultures are settled. He said that according to April 2010 census, there are 47 long-billed vulture and 22 nesting sites along the project.
Official said that the central ministry has also asked to build a 'vulture cafeteria' to provide supplement feed to the vultures and divert them from the ropeway area. These sites have to be developed and dead animals will be dumped for the vulture.
The minister wants the company to impose a cess of Rs 5 per ticket or 2% of the ticket turnover revenue, whichever is higher, to collect funds for lion conservation. Girnar was declared as a sanctuary in 2008 and has 24 Asiatic lions apart from endangered vultures. The ministry also suggested that a technical monitoring group of state forest officers and volunteers should be formed to advise on safety and other issues.

A monumental error.

Nayanjot Lahiri, Hindustan Times
April 19, 2011
What is it about this photograph of parallel brick walls in a setting somewhat reminiscent of the visuals in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider that is worth contemplating? Why is a man walking through the passage? And why should Hindustan Times readers, who know nothing about this place, be asked to think about it?
The masses of bricks are found near Junagadh, a town in Gujarat famous for reasons that have little to do with the relict walls in the photograph. For one, Junagadh is located close to the majestic Girnar, the highest mountain in Gujarat in whose vicinity stands the historic rock where three ancient monarchs, starting with Asoka, got their edicts inscribed. For another, from the medieval centuries onwards, Junagadh became a centre of worship for Hindu and Jaina pilgrims. The parikrama around Girnar, which such pilgrims undertake from November onwards, remains the most important event in the sacred calendar of the town.
Much before its medieval fame as a centre of Jaina and Hindu worship, the hills of Girnar and the area of Junagadh was sacred to the Buddhists. There are several ancient rock hewn caves in and around it with dwelling chambers and water tanks for monks. Impressive foundations of brick built monasteries have also survived and one of these, at Intwa, was set up by the Saka ruler Rudrasena (c. 2nd century AD) for the bhikshu samgha there. These are monuments that are protected and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
What have been practically forgotten, however, are a couple of Buddhist stupas that still stand in the Girnar forest. The walls in the photograph form part of the most impressive of them, known locally as Lakha Medi.
The Lakha Medi stupa is built on a rocky knoll, about seven kilometres to the east of Junagadh, in a delightfully secluded valley from where the rugged Girnar and the Datar hill, the highest after Girnar, can be seen. The valley is visited by those who come to pay obeisance at the Bhor Devi temple there. Hardly anyone, though, remembers the presence of a colossal stupa in the jungle adjacent to the temple, originally as large as the great stupa at Sanchi, and one which was excavated in 1889 by JM Campbell of the Bombay Civil Service. Campbell is generally remembered as the compiler of the Bombay District Gazetteers. Less known is the massive cutting that Campbell left behind at Lakha Medi as a consequence of his excavations at the stupa. From the available account of that excavation, it seems that first, the top of Lakha Medi was sliced off to a depth of 22 feet, then a trench 20 feet wide was driven across the stupa (seen in this photograph), followed by further digging, which revealed a stone coffer containing a stone pot in which was found a little copper pot, then a silver box and finally a little gold box. In the gold box were an aquamarine bead, a ruby, a sapphire, an emerald, some coaly grit and a ‘relic’ described as a flake of burnt stone ware. No inscription was found, but from the still standing solid mass of brick work in herring-bone bond, this seems to be a late centuries BC stupa.
No further excavations took place at Lakha Medi. But nor was it repaired. Now its ancient bricks are being used to expand the modern Bhor Devi temple. That it has survived in this cut up contorted way is because the jungle clad knoll where it is situated has survived, forming part of the reserve forest of Girnar. In the Girnar jungles, incidentally, it is state foresters and freelance naturalists who know more about the location and state of ancient monuments than archaeologists. My own tryst with the Lakha Medi stupa was made possible because Junagadh’s well known nature man, Rasik Bhatt (who can be seen in the photograph) had roamed these forests looking for medicinal herbs and plants.
Of course, Lakha Medi’s fate — where those who discovered and explored it did it in a way that disfigured and half-ruined it — is not an isolated one. This is true for many stupas across India, including those at Sanchi where the extent of damage was so considerable that a British officer in the 19th century, in discussing the work of the archaeologist Alexander Cunningham, is known to have commented that “a thousand years of time and weather have not done so much injury to the invaluable Topes at Sanchi as was caused by the action of major-general Cunningham.....who years ago mined deep into the Topes in the vain search for coins or inscriptions, and never filled in his excavations.”
The difference, though is, that by the time Lakha Medi was dug into, repairs at the Sanchi monuments had begun and, what we see there today — large exposed and conserved stupas and shrines — had been more or less completed by 1919 or so. Sultan Jahan Begun, the ruler of the Bhopal Darbar, was Sanchi’s main benefactor. The conservation work undertaken there by John Marshall, director general of the ASI, the construction of the Sanchi museum and the publication of the Sanchi volumes were largely financed by her Darbar.
Sanchi is now a World Heritage site but Lakha Medi still remains forgotten. Surely, with so many programmes that speak of adopting monuments, can an archaeological saviour for this forgotten stupa step forward? Such a saviour is urgently required if future generations are to remember Girnar not only for the wildlife that thrives in its beautiful forests but also for the historic heritage that these forests have protected.
Nayanjot Lahiri is professor at the Department of History, University of Delhi. The views expressed by the author are personal.

Work begins on centre to breed deer for hungry leopards

Kamaal Saiyed
Posted: Apr 27, 2011 at 0404 hrs ISTSurat Mandvi and adjoining areas in Surat districts have seen a number of leopard attacks on humans and pets
Forest officials have started work for setting up a breeding centre for chausinga deer in Mandvi forest range to boost natural prey base for leopards, which have been frequently attacking humans and domestic pets in the region.
Due to deforestation and lack of preys in the deep forest areas, leopards often travel huge distances in search of food and water and stray into human habitats adjacent to the forests.
The area has seen a number of leopard attacks on humans and domestic animals like cow, buffalos goats and dogs in recent months.
After a green signal from the state government, forest officials have now started work on setting up a chausinga breeding centre in Sarsi forest region of Mandvi taluka in Surat district. Forest land of 1.5 hectares has been identified and fenced with a 14-feet-high wall. Drilling work for water is under progress.
Sources in the forest department said there are over 100 chausinga deer in the Mandvi region and the neighbouring reserve forest area. The aim is to increase their number so that leopards could get their food easily in the dense forests.
Forest officials have set a target ratio of one male deer to six females. A female deer gives birth to two or three young ones at a time. The average life span of chausinga deer is between five to six years and after a year, a cub becomes adult, after which it will be freed into forest areas as prey for leopards, said Mandvi forest officer D S Chaudhary.
Deputy Conservator of Forest A G Vasawa said, “After getting funds and green signal from the state government, we have started work of setting up the breeding centre in Mandvi. We will bring deer from Gir forest and keep them at the breeding centre. If this pilot project is successful, we will bring chausinga deer from different zoos. We will keep young ones till they become adult after which we will free them into forest areas for leopards.”

Five-year-old lion's body found in Gir forest

Press Trust Of India
Bhavnagar, April 23, 2011

In a suspected case of poaching, the caracass of a five-year-old lion was found from Talaja area of the district, Gujarat forest department officials said on Saturday. Officials suspect the lion was killed as the claws were missing, they said adding the animal might have been killed four to five days ago.
Top officials of Gir forest area rushed to the spot where the body was found. Forensic experts from Directorate of Forensic Science Gandhinagar were also called.
The body of the lion has been sent for postmortem, they said.
"Once the reports of postmortem and forensic experts are received, we will be able to say what had actually happened to the lion," forest officials said.
Poaching is rare in Gir sanctuary but the forest department had last week arrested a man for killing two lioness from Dhari range of the forest in Amreli district after poisoning their food.
Gir is the last abode of Asiatic lions where as per the census of 2010, there were more than 410 lions.

Gir lions flourish, thanks to adjoining areas.

Published: Thursday, Apr 7, 2011, 18:16 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

The Lion King's successful conservation story is making international headlines. An academic paper titled 'A conservation success story in the otherwise dire megafauna extinction crisis: The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) of Gir forest' that chronicles Gujarat's efforts in conserving the big cat has been printed in a Singapore-based magazine. The paper authored by Gujarat's senior IFS officer, HS Singh and Luke Gibson of the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore brings out the stellar increase of the lions in the wild from its near extinction a century ago to a thriving 411 as per the census last year.
The paper points out that the availability of native ungulates and the lions' migrations to satellite areas around the sanctuary has tremendously helped to increase its population. "Protection of core and satellite habitats and the relocation of pastoral communities and their livestock triggered forest recovery and coincident increases in native prey populations. Wild ungulate populations increased by 10-fold between 1970 and 2010, supporting an increase in the lion population from 180 animals in 1974 to 411 animals in 2010," the paper states.
Dr Singh, a veteran forester and who has authored several books on the wildlife in Gujarat is an avid observer of trends. "Coincident with the increase of the ungulate population, lions shifted their predation preferences from a diet composed of 75% livestock to one composed of just 25% livestock. This example demonstrates the value of native prey populations to sustain imperiled carnivore species," Dr Singh has observed in his paper.
Another aspect pointed out as a reason for effective conservation is moving out the native pastoral communities (Maldharis) and their livestock outside the protected lion habitat.
However, the paper also remarks that, "Despite impressive recoveries of wild ungulates, recent increases in livestock populations in the Gir Conservation Area may limit the potential recovery of wild prey species and consequently the Asiatic lion."
"Another key aspect in the conservation of the Asiatic lion was their dispersal and the subsequent protection of surrounding satellite populations. Approximately one fourth of Asiatic Lions are located in protected satellite populations outside the Gir Conservation Area, and subsist primarily on wild prey species. The protection of these satellite habitats and the maintenance of corridors linking them to the core population in the Gir Conservation Area has allowed for the continued growth of this endangered species," the paper concludes.

Lioness, cubs captured in Junagadh

PTI | 02:04 PM,Apr 17,2011 Vadodara, Apr 17 (PTI) Forest officials captured a lioness and four cubs in Junagadh district of Gujarat, a senior official of Gir forest division said today."The lioness and her four cubs are caged to provide them protection", said District Forest Officer (East) of Gir forest division Manishwar Raja.He told PTI on phone that the big cat along with four cubs was spotted by villagers in Kankya village of Una taluka of Junagadh district.A bigger cage, with buffalo as a bait, was procured to trap the lioness and the cubs who are being shifted to wild Life Animal Care Centre in Jasadar, Raja said.They will be kept under observation at the Centre for a week and then will be released in Gir national sanctuary, which is Asia's only abode of Asiatic lions, he said. The forest official added that the big cat did not 'attack' villagers.

Four arrested in connection with lion''s death near Gir forest.

PTI | 11:04 PM,Apr 25,2011 Bhavnagar, Apr 25 (PTI) Four persons have been arrested in connection with death of a five-year-old lion last week in Talaja taluka of the district, forest officials said here today.Sibubha Sarvaiya, Maula Baraiya, Gordhan Baraiya and Bhupat Baraiya were arrested today under the Wildlife Protection Act, they said.All four were produced today before a Talaja court which sent them to custody for two days, they added."These people had electrified the fencing around their farm to keep animals like bule bulls away. But unfortunately, the lion got electrocuted and died," District Conservator of Forest K S Randhawa told PTI.Body of the five-year-old lion was found from Talaja on April 23 near Gir forest. The forest department had suspected that lion was killed as its claws were missing.According to case details, after the lion got electrocuted, the accused instead, of informing the forest officials, threw the body away.Randhawa said that electric fencing is prohibited under the Wildlife Act as it endangers life of wild animals and punishment under this Act would range from three to seven years in prison.He said that the remand of the accused was sought to know about the claws of the lion which were missing from the body.Poaching is rare in the Gir sanctuary, however, forest department had last week arrested a man for killing two lioness from Dhari range of the forest in Amreli district after poisoning their food.Gir is the last abode of Asiatic lions and as per the census of 2010, there were more than 410 lions.

Lions roar more.

Photo: M.A. Sriram

Yeah Right:There's more of us now.

New research just published highlights an increase in the numbers of Asiatic lions surviving in the Gir Forest of India. From a base of 180 lions left in 1974, the population has risen to 411 by 2010. This could help ensure the survival of other threatened big cats, such as snow leopards. The key to the Gir lions' revival appears to have been a dramatic increase in the numbers of wild ungulates. Between 1970 and 2010, numbers of chital, sambar, blue bull and wild boar among others rose 10-fold in total within the Gir forest in the southwest part of the Saurashtra region in the state of Gujarat.

Lion has more food at Gir, number of herbivores increasing.

PTI | 07:04 PM,Apr 20,2011 Rajkot, Apr 20 (PTI) Population of herbivorous animals and peacocks has increased in the Gir forest area, as per a recent census. Gujarat Forest Department carries out such census every year. The herbivores here include black bucks, pigs, monkeys and nilgai. The peacock population has increased to 19,635 from 18,421, while that of monkeys and black bucks has increased from 8,501 to 8,837 and from 250 to 291 respectively, said Junagadh district forest official, Sandeep Kumar. The increase in the population of herbivores suggested that Gir had a right ecological balance, forest department authorities said. The number of the `star' inhabitants of Gir, the Asiatic lions, stands at 411 currently.

Kumble's no cub in wildlife conservation.

TNN, Apr 11, 2011, 10.45pm IST
MYSORE: Former cricketer and State Board for Wildlife vice-chairman Anil Kumble has proved that hes no cub when it comes to wildlife conservation. He got 119-year-old Mysore Zoo two Asiatic lions from Gujarat which were put up for public view on Monday. With this, Mysore Zoo has become the third in the country to house Asiatic lions after Delhi and Hyderabad.
Anil Kumble had struck a deal with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. This is the first time Gujarat, the habitat for Asiatic lions, has sent the big cat outside its state in the past 10 years.
Kumble inaugurated the lions enclosure after a pooja and christened the duo as Shankara and Gowri. And adopted Shankara in his childrens name at Rs 1 lakh for one year. The certificate was in the name of his children Aaruni, Mayas and Svasti. Kumble also extended the adoption of Giraffe calf Lakshmi by a year by paying Rs 40,000.

Jumbo’s kids adopt lion, giraffe.

Vice chairman of Karnataka Wildlife Board Anil Kumble with his family at Mysore Zoo — KPN
Vice chairman of Karnataka Wildlife Board Anil Kumble with his family at Mysore Zoo — KPN
Cricketer, and Karnataka Wildlife Board vice-chairman, Anil Kumble said that the Mysore Zoo will be given a face-lift soon, to raise it to world-class standards, to attract more visitors.
Addressing press persons at the zoo premises here on Monday, he said that several more rare and exotic species of animals will be added to the zoo, through animal exchange programmes in the country, and abroad.
Kumble, who is also ambassador for the Mysore zoo, said that a zebra will be brought to the zoo from South Africa soon. He visited the zoo with his wife Chethana, son Mayas, and daughters Aaruni and Swasthi, to view the pure Asiatic lions in their new enclosure. The lions were brought from Gir forest of Gujarat, after a request to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
“This is the first time in ten years that the Gujarat government has sent Asiatic lions outside the state. I will approach liquor baron Vijay Mallya, for financial aid for enriching the Zoo with more rare species," Kumble said.
Kumble has named the lion pair as Gowri and Shankara. Shankara was adopted by Kumble’s daughters for a year by paying Rs 1 lakh. They also adopted a giraffe, Lakshmi, paying Rs 25,000 for its maintenance.