Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Concerned over safety, Guj RTI activists decide to form union.

PTI | 04:07 PM,Jul 24,2011 "This is an emergency like situation in the state of Gujarat. We activists need to come together and fight those trying to suppress the implementation of RTI Act in Gujarat," she added.Bhikhu Jethva, whose son and RTI activist Amit Jethva was killed by gunmen one year ago for exposing illegal mining in Gir forest region, said he would fight till the end for the cause in which his son believed in."I have faith in the High Court where the PIL filed by Amit (Jethva) is being heard. They will do justice to it. But if I feel that they have not done enough I will approach the Supreme Court," Bhikhu said.Another RTI activist, Bhagubhai Devani from Porbander said he too was attacked by land mafia after he complained against illegal mining in the Saurashtra region which he said was being promoted by a former minister.Bharat Tann from Rajkot narrated the same citing alleged land scam to the tune of Rs 800 crore in the heart of the city.The group of activist also demanded that the state and the Central government should pass bill for providing protection to RTI applicants.

Patna zoo to get 5 big cats.

Parul Pandey, TNN Jul 21, 2011, 06.32pm IST
PATNA: Five new big cats - one pair each of Asiatic lion and white tiger and one Royal Bengal tiger - are likely to arrive at the Patna zoo by the second week of next month under an exchange programme with Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad.
"After several rounds of negotiations, we are now ready to give one pair of horned rhino to Nehru zoo in exchange for their five animals," said Abhay Kumar, director, Patna zoo.
Kumar claimed that Patna zoo is the only zoo in the country that offers favourable conditions for the breeding of rhinos. "At present, we have the highest number of rhinos (13) in the country; thus, we are exchanging it to get a few more animals for our zoo," he said.

"Rhino is a very heavy animal, with each rhino may be weighing over a tonne. So, we are making necessary arrangements and taking precautionary measures to shift the rhinos to Hyderabad. They would be transported to the Nehru zoo via road by the end of this month," Kumar told TOI.
"Once the rhinos reach Nehru zoo, as per the exchange agreement, their authorities would send us a pair each of Asiatic lions and white tiger and one Royal Bengal tiger," Kumar added. "We are expecting those animals to arrive here by the second week of August."
Meanwhile, Patna zoo has already started making arrangements to house these new animals. "After the death of a white tigress, only one old white tigress is left with the zoo; so the tiger enclosure is almost vacant. We just need to add a few cages, which would be done by the month-end," officials said.
Patna zoo is also planning to expand the enclosure of rhinos. Kumar told TOI they were planning to allot some jungle area of the zoo to rhinos and do it in such a way that it gave them the feel of a jungle. "We would divide that area with a wooden overbridge, so that zoo visitors can see rhinos from close quarters without disturbing them," Kumar added.

Two held in South Delhi with leopard pelts,

Two persons were arrested from South Delhi on Sunday for allegedly dealing in body parts of endangered animals. Two leopard pelts were seized from them, police said on Monday.
A case under Sections 39, 49, 499 (B), 49 (C), 9 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, has been registered against the two.
Police arrested Abdul Sattar (55) and Rahisuddin alias Lallan (57) from Sanik Farms in South Delhi when they came to sell the skins to a contact.
“The accused had come to sell lion and leopard skins. They used to smuggle elephant tusks and skin of leopards and Asiatic lions. They would sell them to their contacts, who would put them up for sale in the international market at very high rates,” said DCP (South) Chhaya Sharma.
Investigations revealed that both the pelts belonged to leopards, which is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

“Lallan would procure animal skin, teeth and other parts from a tribal — Plaza — at a very cheap rate. He would them and sell them off for a higher prices. Plaza had told him that he used to find these things while roaming in the woods,” Sharma added. 

Ring road around Gir to be on pvt-public partnership model.

TNN Jul 31, 2011, 05.17am IST
AHMEDABAD: The state forest department has decided to construct a ring road around the Gir sanctuary on the public-private partnership model. The decision was taken because the state does not want to wait for funds to be sanctioned from the central government.
The Gujarat government has already sent a proposal to the Centre for the ring road around the Gir sanctuary. The road, according to the state government, will divert traffic that now trespasses on the Asiatic lion's kingdom.
The proposed 269 km road will connect villages on the periphery of the Gir National Park and sanctuary covering 1,412 sq km. About six state highways and some minor roads now crisscross the sanctuary. And every day 35 to 40 vehicles travel through the sanctuary.

S K Nanda, principal secretary (forest and environment) said, "We are waiting for the nod from the central government. However, the construction of the ring road will be taken up on the PPP model."
The state has sent a proposal for the long-term conservation of the Asiatic lion. The project cost was Rs 262.36 crore. Of this, 90 per cent of the funding will be provided by the central government while the remaining 10 per cent, Rs 26.19 crore, will be borne by the state.
Officials said a proposal for the Rs 262 crore fund was sent to the planning commission, which has approved the project in principle. An official said that demanding another Rs 600 crore was expecting too much from the Centre. "Hence we decided to fund the ring road on a PPP model. Once the wildlife board of the Union ministry of forest and environment grants approval, the government will issue tenders for the project," he said.

Lioness dead, Renuka safari population down to two.

 Friday, July 29th, 2011
Govt moves for adopting a lion pair from Karnataka
Shimla: Death of a lioness at Renukaji Lion Safari has brought down the number of Asiatic lions in the safari to a critical lonely couple, in an enclosure that once boasted about two dozen of them.
Wildlife warden Sushil Kapta said that Megha, an 11 year old lioness, died of uterus cancer a few days ago. “A lot of effort was made to try and save the majestic animal; the best veterinarian available in the state was requisitioned but the lioness could not be saved,” he said.
To make up for the diminished numbers, Kapta says, the wildlife department has written to Bannerghatta Biological Park in Karnataka for adding at least a pair at the Renuka safari. The Karnataka park which has two spare lion pairs of Asiatic lions available for adoption.
Starting out with a pair of lions brought over from Junagarh in the 1970’s, the population at Renuka at one point had swelled to about 28 which made the government confer the status of a lion safari in 1986.
Problems of inbreeding crept leading to genetic diseases, says the wild life warden. After several lions died between 1996 and 2000, CZA asked for totally stopping all captive breeding programs and since then the population has been on the decline.
Sources claimed that in April, last year, the Renuka wild life officials had shifted two lioness and one lion to Gopalpur and Chhatbir Zoo’s, on recommendation from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
While inbreeding remains a bane of all captive lion populations in the country’s zoo’s, the population of Asiatic lion’s at the Gir National Park in Gujarat is a healthy 411, which includes 97 males, 62 females and 52 cubs recorded in the 2010 census.
Old Sign Post

Katraj Zoo will soon have some roaring presence.

Zoo authorities in talks with Junagarh counterparts to introduce at least 10 purebred Asiatic lions in their fold
Tanaji Khot
Posted On Friday, August 05, 2011 at 01:43:08 AM

TAhe Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, popularly known as Katraj Zoo, will soon have some roaring amidst other animal sounds to greet visitors, if everything goes as planned.

The zoo authorities are planning to bring in as many as 10 pure-bred Asiatic lions from the Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagarh, Gujarat, as part of an exchange programme. Once that happens, visitors will get to see a lion in the zoo after a gap of two decades. 

Rajkumar Jadhav, deputy garden superintendent and zoo director, told Mirror, “The inclusion of the lions is the next important development in the zoo. The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has approved our plan to include 16 species of animals in the zoo, including the lions.”

Jadhav had, on Monday, made a presentation of the detailed plan for expansion of Katraj zoo before CZA in New Delhi.

The plan was approved after minor changes in the report. The plan provides for at least 10 lions in the zoo. Jadhav said, “We are going to start making enclosures for the lions as early as possible. Once the enclosures are ready, Katraj Zoo will approach zoos where pure breeds of Asiatic lions are available.”

Besides lions, lesser cats like leopards and other animals like hyenas will also be added to the zoo.

The Sakkarbaug Zoo has the largest concentration of pure-bred Asiatic lions — forty members. Katraj Zoo has allotted 4,900 square metre space for lions’ enclosure. 

The Sakkarbaug Zoo has a captive breeding programme in place for pure-bred Asiatic lions. This species of lions is highly endangered and these animals are found in Gir forest and surrounding areas in Gujarat.

The  last and only lioness in Pune was kept in Peshwe park. She died around 20 years ago. This lioness was treated by a Jalgaon-based doctor V G Purnapatre and was handed over to Peshwe Park.

Asiatic lions: Let the pride increase!

Hundred years ago, the population of Asiatic lion in India were left to about a dozen; today this number has reached to 411 lions. World over there is a trend of flora and fauna declining due to human population increase and consecutive habitat losses, so what is it that the population of Asiatic lion is increasing.

Yogendra Shah a wildlife researcher working in Gir forest gives the credit of this reverse trend to the community living around the lion’s territory and the forest department. The lions are a symbol of pride for the people of Gujarat and for their conservation; they make all efforts and sacrifices.

Shah recollected an incident where, he went to meet a family, which had six members and two buffalos, the lions killed one of the buffalo but the family had no grudge against the big cats.

About a hundred years back when the Junagarh nawab could not find a lion for his shikar, he realised that the lion population had declined. He stopped hunting of lion. With times, trends and problems change like forest department rescue team has been rescuing 20-30 lions each year from open deep wells. There are some eight thousand wells in and around the lion territory and the forest department and locals have managed to fence or wall about four thousand. The Gir forest is a 1400 sq km area but the lions have now expanded their territory and found in 2300 sq km. However, the lions in one era were found in many states of India like the Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh. The reasons for their extinction were shikar and their habitat being open scrubland. They did not have the knack to survive such as the tiger, at the same time the lions are very vocal and the hunters can easily catch their presence. Hence, the existence of the Asiatic lions in Gujarat is a very big achievement and the credit goes to the community, researches, forest department and the politicians.

However if we want to conserve the lions in the long term we have to move to a new phase in which the lion has to be changed from the ‘pride of Gujarat’ to the ‘pride of India’. Two decades ago the government had worked in this direction they proposed the kuno area of Madhya Pradesh to be the second home for the lions and even relocated 24 villages from the forest but the Gujarat government, forest department and researches did not want to give their pride to any other state. Unfortunately, the entire program was put on hold. Now there is a case filed in the Supreme Court to bring lions in Madhya Pradesh.

The Madhya Pradesh government possibly believes that they have enough tiger forests and need to work on species such as lions or cheetahs to attract tourists. With this ideology if we are bringing the lions, then the decision of the Gujarat people looks more acceptable. However, in spite of all the debate, we do know that the growing lion population needs a second home, may be not in other state but in Gujarat itself we can think of another area.

A record 2.71L tourists visit Gir in a year.

TNN Jul 31, 2011, 05.19am IST
AHMEDABAD: Gir, the only place in the world where you can see Asiatic lions in the wild, recorded its maximum visitors in the 12 months till March 2011.
The sanctuary registered a footfall of 2.71 lakh tourists in this period, which is 32 per cent higher than 2009-10. Forest department sources say there was a 19 per cent rise even among foreign tourists. The sanctuary has 411 lions as per the May 2010 census.
The data reveals that 55 per cent of these tourists came in November, December and January. Of the 6,152 foreign tourists who visited Gir in the year till March last, 3,328 came in December, January and February. The trend was mainly because of festivals like Christmas, Diwali and Uttarayan.

"This year the rush began a week prior to the Uttarayan as the festival was on a weekend," said a forest official.
"We were expecting a record income this year, as during Diwali, Gir and Devaliya interpretation centre had recorded a income of around Rs 42 lakh in the 10 day between November 4 and November 13," he said. The main reason for the increase in the flow of tourists was the state government's decision to increase the permits issued during festive days from 90 to 150.
Deputy conservator of forest Sandeep Kumar said that the maximum income of Devaliya in a single day was Rs 4,68,000 in 2000, but the figure touched Rs 5,39,250 this year. Kumar said that this year apart from increasing the tourist permit the advertisement campaign Khushboo Gujarat Ki also played a major role in attracting tourists.

Show-cause notice to 4 forest staff for disposing animal body.

PTI | 11:07 PM,Jul 22,2011 Ahmedabad, July 22 (PTI) A range forest officer was transferred and show-cause notices were served to four staff members including a forester and three beat guards for allegedly disposing the body of a wild animal which had died in the Gir forest. "We have served show-cause notices to one forester and three beat guards to seek their reply in a case of disposing of a body of a (one to two months old) cub," DFO Manishwar Raja told PTI. Range forest officer J P Vadi, in whose area the incident took place, has been transferred from a field job to a desk job, Raja further said. On July 6, Raja had found ash remains of totally burnt animal cub in the Gir forest area of Dhari range. As per the rule, any death of any wild animal has to be reported to DFO for assessment of its cause of death, whether it was natural or otherwise. "However, for some reason, instead informing DFO, lady forester Mona Kachot and three beat guards burnt the body at the same place where it was found," sources in the forest department said. Forest officials have collected the remains and sent it to Forensic Science Laboratory in Gandhinagar to find out if the body was of a lion cub or a leopard cub, Raja said, adding that they are awaiting report from the FSL. Raja said that foresters and the three beat guards have been given 15 days time to explain their action and after their reply, action is likely to be taken against them. Gir is an abode of Asiatic Lions in the world, where as per the 2010 census, their number was more than 500.

Wolves show 'sixth mass extinction' can be fought.

An Asiatic lion rests inside an enclosure at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad on May 11, 2011. The only place in the wild where the lion is found, is in the Gir Forest of Gujarat and in 2010, the Gujarat government reported that 411 Asiatic lions were sighted in the Gir forest.
By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News July 14, 2011

An Asiatic lion rests inside an enclosure at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad on May 11, 2011. The only place in the wild where the lion is found, is in the Gir Forest of Gujarat and in 2010, the Gujarat government reported that 411 Asiatic lions were sighted in the Gir forest. 

Photograph by: Noah Seelam, Getty Images

Thirty-one gray wolves from Canada were turned loose in Yellowstone in the 1990s.
The iconic canines were soon tearing after elk in the U.S. national park, which had not seen wolves in seven decades.
Aspen, willow and cottonwood trees have begun to sprout now that the elk are in check. Beavers have started to move back in, increasing habitat for birds and insects.
"It's amazing the effect one species, the wolf, can have on the entire ecosystem," says William Ripple, at Oregon State University, co-author of an international report on the profound and cascading impact large animals have on ecosystems.
He and his colleagues say the demise of lions, wolves, bison, sharks, great whales and other large animals is part of the "the sixth mass extinction" now underway, and that their disappearance affects everything from wildfires to the spread of disease.
"The loss of these animals may be humankind's most pervasive influence on nature," the team of 24 scientists from the United States, Europe, Africa and Canada are reporting Friday in the journal Science.
So-called "apex consumers" have roamed the planet for millions of years but have vanished from most of their range, largely because of human hunting and fishing, and habitat loss.
The scientists point to "extensive cascading effects."
"The disappearance of these animals reverberates further than previously anticipated, with far-reaching effects on processes as diverse as the dynamics of disease; fire; carbon sequestration; invasive species; and biogeochemical exchanges among Earth's soil, water and atmosphere," they say.
They also suggest the loss of the top animals can be linked to "many of the ecological surprises that have confronted society over past centuries — pandemics, population collapses of species we value and eruptions of those we do not, major shifts in ecosystem states, and losses of diverse ecosystem services."
The report lists examples from Africa to the Aleutian Islands.
The reduction of lions and leopards in the sub-Sahara caused the baboon population to swell. This unexpectedly increased transmission of intestinal parasites from baboons to humans as the primates foraged closer to human settlements.
Industrial whaling in the 20th century killed off large numbers of plankton-eating great whales, which sequester carbon into the deep sea in their feces. The scientists say about 105 million tonnes of carbon has ended up in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change, instead of resting at the bottom of the ocean.
Coastal kelp forests, important marine nurseries and habitat, were decimated when sea otter populations collapsed from over-hunting in the Pacific Northwest. This was because kelp-grazing sea urchins proliferated when sea otters were no longer around to eat them.
The loss of sharks has lead a boom in the population of cow-nosed rays, which have in turn triggered collapse of shellfish populations along the East Coast of North America.
The researchers, including zoologist Anthony Sinclair at the University of B.C., who could not be reached for comment, say that large animals have long been seen as "riding atop" ecosystems but not really affecting the species and structure below.
That, they say, is a fundamental misunderstanding of ecology.
"By looking at ecosystems primarily from the bottom up, scientists and resource managers have been focusing on only half of a very complex equation," lead author James Estes, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, said in a summary of the findings.
The wolves in Yellowstone show the damage is not necessarily irreversible, Ripple told Postmedia News.
He and associates have been documenting the "restoration" that started in the park's ecosystem after 31 grey wolves from Alberta were introduced in Yellowstone the 1995 and 1996, and the packs began to grow.
The wolf, once widespread across most of North America, has been hunted ruthlessly and was eradicated from Yellowstone by the 1920s. During the wolves' seven-decade absence from the park, Ripple says, elk not only increased in number but their behaviour changed.
The elk were no longer afraid of browsing young aspen trees in places where historically the animals might have been vulnerable to wolf attack. As a result, the growth of young aspen trees and willow almost stopped, and there were fewer beaver. Plant communities, tree growth and stream ecology all were affected, Ripple said.
But in parts of Yellowstone, he said, aspen and willow are now recovering. The trees and shrubs are attracting more beavers, which in turn set the stage for more birds and insects.
"It is shocking and very humbling to see how an individual species can be so important," he said of the wolves' cascading effect on the ecosystem.
Habitat-restoration efforts often start from the ground up, with the planting of trees or other landscape manipulations, said Ripple, "but here all we had to do was release a few dozen wolves and let them do their thing."

Three Asian Lions Receive Shots at Night Safari Zoo.

Thu, 7/21/2011 - 6:02 AM
By Xinle Ng
Singapore - Three adorable lion cubs were born to Night Safari Zoo residents Khapat and Amba this March, and they recently had their booster ‘shots’ by the veterinary team.
The tawny three-month-olds were given a clean bill of health after a mandatory vaccination against respiratory and systemic infections. Their first health check took place two months after they were born on 21 March 2011, and they were given a general examination and microchipped for identification.
Similar to humans, animals can suffer from a variety of infectious diseases. Vaccinations are therefore essential in building immunity and prevention against diseases. This is especially important for the cubs when they are given outdoor access and placed on exhibit. Lion cubs usually get a booster shot when they are 12 weeks old and bi-annually thereafter.
“The practice of animal vaccination is recommended by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is dedicated to continually improving standards of animal welfare based on the latest and best practices,” said Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director, Veterinary, WRS.
The Asian lion is a unique subspecies that splits from the African lion. It is smaller in size and sports a less significant mane compared to its African cousin. Most of the wild Asian lion population is found in India’s Gir Forest, a protected santuary where about 300 of these magnificent animals roam. There are an additional 60 of them living in zoos. Under the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), they are listed as ‘endangered’. One of the problems faced by the Asian lion in the wild is in-breeding which has resulted in weaker individuals. Through Night Safari’s captive breeding programme, WRS hopes to be able to increase the number of Asian lions both in the wild and in captivity. To date, Night Safari has successfully bred seven Asian lion cubs in captivity.
Night Safari, the world’s first wildlife park for nocturnal animals is a nine-time winner of the Best Visitor Attraction Experience, awarded by Singapore Tourism Board. This internationally acclaimed leisure attraction embodies innovation and creativity in products and services, and service quality, thus attracting more than 1.1 million visitors yearly. Over 1,000 animals from 115 species (of which almost 30% are threatened) inhabit the 40-hectare park.
In line with its mission to promote biodiversity, the park focuses on the captive breeding of threatened species. Over the years, it has bred Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, fishing cats, red dholes, anoas, markhors, bantengs, Malayan tapirs and Asian lions, among other endangered species. A visitor’s experience at Night Safari is not limited to animals but extends to experiential dining segments with the park’s award winning Gourmet Safari Experience, where visitors dine onboard a tram traversing the eight geographical zones. The park can be explored either on foot via three walking trails, or by tram. Night Safari is part of Wildlife Reserves Singapore and is a designated rescued wildlife centre by the governing authority.
Night Safari is located at 80 Mandai Lake Road Singapore 729826. More information can be found at
Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is the parent company of award-winning attractions Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari. WRS parks strive to be world-class leisure attractions, providing excellent exhibits of animals presented in their natural environment for the purpose of conservation, education and recreation.
In the areas of conservation and research, WRS parks have undertaken multiple projects through collaborations with various organisations and institutions on the oriental pied hornbill, pangolin and orang utan. Highly popular with tourists and locals, Jurong Bird Park welcomed 900,000 visitors, the Night Safari, more than 1.1 million, and Singapore Zoo over 1.6 million visitors in 2010.

More information can be found at
To view Singapore Zoo's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor News, go to: