Saturday, April 28, 2012

Poachers back to hunt Gujrat pride?

Vijaysinh Parmar, TNN Apr 24, 2012, 05.43AM IST
Lion's Carcass Found Sans Claws, Cub Missing For A Month
MAHUVA: Have poachers become active near Gir National Park again? Missing claws of a lion that died a year ago and a cub that has been missing for nearly 50 days indicate that all is not well in the lion's abode.
A 10-month-old lion cub in this range has been missing since March 5 and the forest department has no clue about its disappearance. K S Randhawa, deputy conservator of forests, Bhavnagar, denied that a cub has been missing but senior forest officials confirmed to TOI that the cub has indeed been traceless.
Earlier, in April 2011, a lion was electrocuted at Valar village in Mahuva range. When the carcass was found, the claws were missing. Four persons were arrested in the connection but even after a year forest officials have not found the claws.
The area was stalked by poachers about five years back and nearly 50 poachers, led by Sarkaslal from Madhya Pradesh, were arrested for killing eight lions in the span of a few weeks.
The two recent cases not only bring back those memories but also highlight the lack of co-ordination between the departments concerned and the ground staff in the region. The lion's carcass was found 10 days after it died. After killing the lion, the accused had put the carcass on a bullock cart and dumped it on the gauchar land. Marks of the bullock cart wheels in the area had led the forest officials to conclude that the lion may have been killed somewhere else and the body was later dumped in the revenue area.
Randhawa, however, denied involvement of any gang of poachers in lion's killing. "We suspect involvement of local people in the case of missing claws," he said.
According to the last census, there were 411 lions in the sanctuary and of this, 33 were in Bhavnagar district, mostly in Mahuva range.

National highway expansion at cost of 13,000 trees: A gain or a loss?

Hiral Dave

Posted: Apr 26, 2012 at 0225 hrs IST
Rajkot RS 102 billion! This is an estimated environmental cost that will be at stake when over 13,000 full grown trees will be cut down to pave the way for expansion of National Highway 8D connecting Jetpur to Somanth.
Once built, this four-lane road will ensure smooth ride to pilgrims and speedy transportation for port and cement related industry, but the development will be a big blow to the environment conservation.
“As per a World Science Congress held in India in 1982, a 50-year-old tree can be valued worth Rs 16 lakh for its contribution in maintaining equilibrium,” said H S Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Fores (Social Forestry).
According to the Gujarat Ecological and Environment Research Foundation, a tree can be valued at Rs 15.70 lakh. Based on the 1982 World Science Congress, this cost was calculated considering various functions of a tree, including oxygen supply, ecological balance, food production, moisture retaining, retaining soil fertility, pollution control and wood.
The state Forest Department has, while inviting tenders, calculated the value as per Supreme Court guidelines. “As per SC guidelines, a value of one hectare area with plantation, as per variety of trees, can be estimated anything between Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 11 lakh,” said NHAI Deputy General Manager R S Jhanwar.
The NHAI has so far paid Rs 13.46 lakh to the state Forest Department for compensatory forestation for the non-protected area. “For the protected area, a sum will be decided by the department after a survey, which is on,” said Jhanwar.
According to him, the new road “will open doors for more development”. “There is one of the most important pilgrimage sites, Somnath, besides the Veraval port and industries like cement and chemicals,” he said.
But for environmentalists, the compensation and project reward is “not big enough to compensate” this ecological loss. “Many of these trees are 50-year-old and some are there for the last 30 years. If we add inflation, which is expected to be double after every six years, at present a tree can be valued at Rs 78.50 lakh (five times more than 1982). There are over 13,000 trees. The total value comes at Rs 102 billion,” said Narendra Jhakotra of Vivekanand Education Trust (VET) that has launched drive to save these trees.
While VET has launched a drive to save these trees, top Gujarat forest officials have maintained that tender was invited after all the efforts to save these trees went in vain. “Re-plantation of the trees is not possible as these are very big and cannot be transported,” said Singh

“We know what is at stake. The loss cannot be compensated. But this was the last option,” said a top forest department official.

Gujarat activists take up cudgels to save 5,000 trees.

Published: Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012, 16:14 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
Environmental activists and NGOs across the state are getting together to save close to 8,000 trees that will be chopped down for expansion of the Jetpur-Junagadh highway and Veraval-Somnath bypass.
4,865 trees of 57 different species of trees, some of them believed to be over 100 years old, will be sacrificed for the project. A proposal seeking permission from the forest department to cut trees in the protected forest areas close to the two highways has further raised the ire of environmentalists.
Dinesh Goswami of Prakruti Nature Club said that they are contacting various NGOs to build a consensus on the matter. "We will be writing to them. We are going to work unitedly on this issue," said Goswami. Another activist closely associated with the development said that if the government refuses to budge from its decision they may also file a PIL in the matter. "But that of course will be the last resort," said the activist.
Goswami said they have sent a mail to some 50 NGOs across the state about the issue. "We will also be giving a memorandum to the mamlatdaar and later to the district collector. The same will also be sent to various officials including principal secretary forest department," said Goswami.
The activists are urging the government to look at other options including tree transplantation. "They can also explore the option of acquiring the farm land close to the highway at a right price," said Goswami.

Saving lions: Locals told to barricade open wells in Gir.

Press Trust of India Posted: Apr 28, 2012 at 0619 hrs IST

Vadodara Farmers living in the vicinity of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary have been asked to barricade about 3,000 open wells to prevent Asiatic lions from falling into them.
The farmers have been asked to construct parapet walls around the open wells to prevent them from becoming death traps for Asiatic lions, Anshuman Sharma, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Gir East), said on Friday.
A total of 8,500 such wells were located in the area. Of these, 5,482 had been covered under a programme started in December 2007, he said. The wells are dug by farmers who need water for crop irrigation and livestock.
The farmers are being given a government grant for Rs 8,000 for covering each well, Sharma said.
A sub-adult lion (aged about one-and-half-year) was rescued on Thursday from an open well in Ningala village of Amreli district.
Several lions have died in the last few years after falling in open wells. The wells have been divided into two categories - those falling within 2-km radius of the sanctuary and the others located 2km away from it.

As per the last Census conducted in April 2010, there are 411 Asiatic lions in Gir, spread over districts of Junagadh and Amreli. The sanctuary is the only abode of Asiatic lions.

Two lions punished for human folly.

RAJULA (AMRELI): Two Asiatic lions are facing 'life imprisonment' for no fault of theirs! A lion, which was harassed by a group of villagers, brutally killed a 35-year-old man in Dholadri village of Amreli district on April 18. The area falls under expanded lion territory called Bruhad Gir.

As per rules, any lion or wild cat which attacks humans are captured and caged in Sakkarbaug Zoo or in the rescue centre in Sasan Gir for life time. However, investigation into the entire episode has thrown up some disturbing facts.

While forest department maintains that the man was attacked when he went into the bushes, sources in the social forestry department confirmed to TOI that the man was part of a group, which had actually snatched away a cow that was killed by the lion on April 17 by pelting stones at it.

"Next day early morning, the group again went to the area where lions were located and started harassing the pair. They continued to disturb the lions till 3 pm when finally one of lions brutally killed the man, Bhura Parmar," a source said. The lion tore apart the man and finally sat on his chest. Even forest officials had a tough time to collect the man's body parts and they used a tractor to keep the lion away.

Later the lion was captured and forest officials are on lookout for the other lion to capture it.

When asked, Rajula range forest officer A B Bloch said Parmar along with others had gone to collect firewood in the area when the lion attacked him. But forest officials confirm that lion never attack humans unless they are disturbed.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lion tears apart man near Jafrabad.

RAJKOT: An illegal lions show went horribly wrong for the organizer, who was torn apart by the wild beast in Amreli district on Wednesday evening.
Forest officials of Amreli division Rajula-Jafrabad range told TOI that victim Bhura Parmar (35) was organizing a lion show in Dholadari village of Jafrabad taluka for a group of persons who had gone for lion sighting.
The group of villagers reportedly disturbed a lion and lioness. The agitated lion came menacingly close to the group and tried to attack them. While other villagers managed to escape, Bhura could not and the lion dragged him into the bushes. The wild cat tore his body apart, said officials, adding, his skeleton was found at the site.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

सैफई में दहाड़ेंगे गिर के सिंह!

Last updated - Wed, Apr 18, 2012
अहमदाबाद। एशियाई सिंहों की दहाड़ उत्तर प्रदेश(यूपी) के सैफई में भी सुनाई देने के संकेत हैं। वैसे, एशियाई सिंहों की एकमात्र शरणगाह गिर से गुजरात उत्तरप्रदेश को सिंह देगा या नहीं यह फिलहाल स्पष्ट नहीं है। हाल ही में सिंहों को मध्यप्रदेश के कुनो अभयारण्य भेजे जाने के प्रस्ताव को गुजरात सरकार सख्ती से खारिज कर चुकी है।

मामला यह है कि हालिया विधानसभा चुनावों में मुलायम सिंह की पार्टी सपा के शानदार ढंग से जीतने के बाद सैफई लॉयन सफारी परियोजना की फाइलों से फिर से धूल झाड़ी जा रही है। वर्ष 2005 की यह परियोजना को एसपी सुप्रीमो को खासी पसंद थी, लेकिन सत्ता के साथ ही ठंडे बस्ते में चली गई थी।

हाल ही में उत्तर प्रदेश के वन विभाग ने इस परियोजना पर नए जोशखरोश के साथ काम शुरू किया है। एस.के गोयल -प्रधान मुख्य संरक्षक वन व एवं वन्य प्राणी गुजरात का कहना है कि फिलहाल उनकी जानकारी में सिंहों को उत्तर प्रदेश भेजने का सरकारी स्तर पर कोई प्रस्ताव नहीं है।

एशियाटिक लॉयन प्रोटेक्शन सोसायटी के संस्थापक अध्यक्षकमलेश अढिया का कहना है कि उन्हें संदेह है कि इस परियोजना के लिए उत्तरप्रदेश को गिर के सिंह मिल जाएंगे। हाल ही मध्यप्रदेश को साफ इनकार कर गुजरात ने सिंहों को गुजरात से बाहर भेजने पर अपना रूख साफ कर दिया है। यह जरूर है कि सैफई लॉयन प्रोजेक्ट के साथ सिंह प्रजनन संवद्र्धन को जोड़ा गया है, लेकिन ध्यान रखना चाहिए उत्तरप्रदेश के चंद्रप्रभा में गुजरात का अनुभव कड़वा रहा है।

अढिया के अनुसार जहां तक गिर से अन्यत्र सिंह प्रजनन का सवाल है तो अभी हाल ही में गिर अभ्यारण्य से छह नर मादा शेर वांकानेर के निकट स्थित रामपुरा बिरडी अभ्यारण्य में स्थानान्तरित किए गए हैं।

अनुकूल माहौल मिलने से तीन बच्चों को जन्म भी दिया गया है। अब शीघ्र ही राजकोट जिले के बरड़ा में भी लॉयन सफारी की तैयारी है। वहां चार जोड़ी सिंह गिर से जाने हैं। ऎसे में सिंहों को राज्य से बाहर भेजना आसानी से गले नहीं उतरता है।अंतिम अधिकृत गणना के वक्त गुजरात में 411 एशियाई सिंह थे तथा इनकी संख्या में गत गणना से इजाफा हुआ था।

वैसे, उत्तर प्रदेश का वनविभाग इटावा जिले के यमुना-चम्बल नदी के मध्य क्षेत्र में सपा सुप्रीमो मुलायम के गांव सैफई के निकट 50 एकड़ में लॉयन सफारी विकसित करने की मंशा रखता है।

सेन्ट्रल जू अथोरिटी (सीजेए) से इस प्रस्ताव को आरंभिक मंजूरी मिलने के बाद फिलहाल मास्टर प्लान पर काम हो रहा है। करीब दो सौ साल साल पहले सिंह उत्तर भारत में भी मिला करते थे। ऎसे में जलवायु, तापमानव वनस्पित आदि के लिहाज से गिर की साम्यता वाले स्थान का सफारी के लिए चयन किया गया है।

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gir Lions in demand for Kunopal sanctuary.

New Delhi, Apr 16, 2012, IANS:
The Madhya Pradesh government on Monday said Gujarat’s opposition to the translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir forests should be rejected because the state has already made preparations to house the big cats in Kunopal sanctuary.
Appearing for the Madhya Pradesh government, counsel Vibha Makhija told the Supreme Court’s forest bench of Justices that funds have already been spent on making the Kunopal sanctuary habitable for the Asiatic lions as per the project conceived in 1992.
Makhija said Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were chosen to identify the sanctuary and it was Kunopal sanctuary that was finally identified for translocation of the lion.
The Gujarat government earlier this month told the Supreme Court that it could not consent to the shifting of its Asiatic lions from Gir forests as there was no proper study on their translocation.
The apex court was told that “Gujarat’s objection to the translocation can’t be permitted”.
“All experts have agreed to the desirability and urgency of the project. It is not a national but an international project.” The court said it was not the “desirability” but the “necessity”.
The move to shift some of the Asiatic lions from Gir forest was made by the wild life experts fearing that the entire lion population would become extinct because of some genetic, environmental reasons or outbreak of an epidemic.
The Madhya Pradesh counsel said, for preparing Kunopal sanctuary, 24 villages have already been shifted.
The court was told that there were several water bodies in the area and Kuno river flowed through the sanctuary that constantly recharges water bowls.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

16,000 solar-powered homes: Gujarat way behind many states.

Avinash Nair Posted: Apr 12, 2012 at 0711 hrs IST

Ahmedabad Gujarat, that boasts of becoming the ‘solar energy hub’ of the country, has just 16,000 solar-powered homes, way behind some of the socially and economically backward states like J&K, Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, MP and Odisha, where more households use solar power to light up their homes.
The housing data figures of the Census 2011 show that Gujarat is far behind some of the states like West Bengal (2.38 lakh houses), Bihar (1.09 lakh) and Uttar Pradesh (1.56 lakh), that have the highest number of households using solar energy as primary source to illuminate their homes.
Even the not-so-developed states — some of which have the most backward and strife-torn regions in the country, including Chhattisgarh (49,000 houses), Jharkhand (45,000) Odisha (34,000), Madhya Pradesh (40,000), Rajasthan (78,000) Uttarkhand (24,000) and Jammu & Kashmir (20,000) — have more households that run on solar power than those in a state where renewable energy occupies a significant portion (2000 MW) in the overall power generation capacity (16,000 MW) of the state.
The states of Maharashtra (57,000 houses), Andhra Pradesh (55,000) and Karnataka (25,000) that directly compete with Gujarat on the industrial front also have more solar-powered homes.
These figures presently do not seem to be in sync with claims of the Gujarat government about the state being on track to becoming ‘solar energy hub’ of the country; having the world’s first solar-powered city (Gandhinagar), and being the first to have a ‘Rooftop Solar Policy’.
“The current installed capacity (of solar power) in Gujarat is 600 MW and this is the highest in the country. Gujarat is one of the leading states as far as solar power policies are concerned. They have supported a large programme and this has attracted a lot of investors,” said Santosh Kamath, Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG Advisory Services Pvt Ltd. He, however, did not respond when asked why Gujarat was lagging behind states like Bihar and UP in equipping households with solar power.
Though the state has the record of chalking out its own solar policy in 2009 — well ahead of the Centre’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission — and is on track to come out with a ‘Rooftop Solar policy (that will encourage property owners in the state to offer their rooftop or terrace for installation of Solar Photovoltaic system for solar power generation), the advances in solar power generation is yet to percolate to household levels.
Though the state government plans to introduce roof top solar power generation in urban areas, including Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara, the Census figures show rural parts of the state have scored over its urban counterparts in empowering households to use solar power.
As per the recent Census figures, among the 16,000 households in Gujarat that use solar energy, a majority 13,000 are in the rural areas, including villages in the Gir forest.

Apart from the existing 600 MW solar power capacity, Gujarat will add about 15 solar projects (having a total power generation capacity of 650 MW) when it will dedicate these projects to the nation at Charanka Solar Park in North Gujarat on April 19.

Devaliya lion safari park to be pollution-free.

RAJKOT: Devaliya lion safari park, 12 km away from Sasan-Gir, is all set to go for 100 per cent pollution-free. The forest department has decided to use biodiesel made from jatropha to run all tourists vehicles used to take tourists for lions' sighting in the park
"Earlier, we began running few vehicles using biodiesel for the safari. Now, we have decided to run all tourists vehicles (25 passengers' capacity bus) on this fuel. This decision has been taken to make tourist vehicles pollution free," chief conservator of forests (wildlife division), Junagadh, R L Meena said.
Biodiesel is more environment-friendly than other fossil fuel. "We want minimum air and noise pollution in the park," Meena said.
Devaliya Park hosts Asiatic lions in a closed, but natural environment along with many other animals. The park gives tourists an actual feeling of wilderness.
The forest department has ordered 12,000 litres for biodiesel from Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) in Bhavnagar.
"Biodiesel helps immensely in reducing carbon emission. We want to promote this fuel so that it can be used on a larger scale. The biodiesel prepared by CSMCRI is a proven technology. We wish that other forest departments in the country are also able to adopt this model,'' director, CSMCRI, P K Ghosh said.
CSMCRI officials said they charge Rs 75 per litre on the basis of not-for-profit purpose and to promote the use of biodiesel as an environment-friendly fuel option.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fire endangers over 25 lions in Amreli grassland.

Hiral Dave Posted: Apr 09, 2012 at 0518 hrs IST

Rajkot As many as 28 Asiatic lions, including two one-month-old cubs, are feared to be in danger after a major fire broke out in a grassland in the periphery of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary near Krakach village in Liliya taluka of Amreli district.
The fire reported on Saturday, which is third such incident within a month in the same area, has gutted over 2,000 bigha land overnight. However, no update on the situation of the big cats was available as a field survey began only on Sunday.
“Nothing can be said about the situation of the lions,” said Deputy Forest Officer J K Makwana adding, “Teams have been sent to conduct a survey and their report is awaited.”
Wildlife activists, who reportedly rushed to the spot after the fire broke, have expressed fear. “We could hear roars (of lions) till early hours of Sunday. The fire was reported on Saturday afternoon and it continued till this morning. While the adult lions might have run away, the cubs are too small to run,” said Manoj Joshi, a resident of Liliya and member of Gir Nature Club — the lone NGO working for protection and preservation of Asiatic lions in the region.
“This is the third fire incident in a month’s time. But this time it is a major one,” said GNC president Bhikhu Jethava.
Most such incidents are reported from grasslands near Krakrach, Tulshishyam, Mitiyana and Ambalia villages with the onset of summer every year. These grasslands are home to over 100 lions.
According to Jethava, frequent incidents of fire would force prides of lions living in Krakrach vidi (grassland) to find shelter elsewhere, which will only take them further away from their natural habitat in GWS. “Dispersion due to lack of space and food has brought them all the way to Krakrach, and fire incidents will push them further away,” he added.
Makawana, meanwhile, blamed local farmers for the recent incidents. “Farmers often set on fire unwanted grass (in their fields) and this fire spreads to the vidi,” he said.
The official added the department would now launch an awareness drive for the farmers on the issues and how to avoid such incidents.
But farmers point the fingers at the department, which maintains these grasslands. They allege that sometimes department staffers set these grasslands on fire to suppress the figures of sold grass.

Activists, on the other hand, alleged that considering such incidents are reported every year, they had written to the forest department in February to take some preventive measures, but in vain.

Lions’ roar to echo in Porbandar's Barda Sanctuary.

Published: Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012, 14:27 IST
By Paras K Jha & Roxy Gagdekar | Place: Gandhinagar | Agency: DNA
Gujarat's 'pride' was so far limited to Gir alone, but if the plans work as per design, the big cats' roar will now echo loud and clear in Porbandar's Barda Sanctuary too from this August.
As many as eight Asiatic lions of Gir will make the sanctuary their home by August, 2012 as the state forest department has decided to shift four pairs of lions in the newly-developed gene pool centre in Barda Forest around 160 km away from Gir.
The principal secretary, state environment and forest department, SK Nanda said, "We will be shifting lions from Gir to Barda Sanctuary very soon. It is part of our gene pool programme for making the breed genetically very strong and to develop genetic diversity amongst big cats."
Confirming the developments additional chief conservator of forest, HS Singh said, "We are already having gene pool programme in Rampara vidi near Wankaner of Rajkot district. We have been successful in lion conservation programme, as three cubs have been born at Rampara vidi. Now, we will be shifting four pairs of lions to Barda Sanctuary post-monsoon, by August."
Singh further said that the present hot weather is not conducive for shifting the cats to a new location. "Lions find it extremely difficult to adjust to new environment. Therefore, when weather conditions become more favorable for lions post-monsoon season, we will shift them," he said.
Member of National Board for Wildlife in India, Divyabhanusinh Chavada said he is very happy that the lions have been moved to Barda Wildlife Sanctuary. "This is very good, but what's next? The lions are happily multiplying. Today, they are 411, tomorrow they'll be 500. Where will they go next? Gujarat government needs to conserve their traditional corridor. The land needs to be immediately acquired and conserved," he said.
The forest department, which has distributed the lion families in different grids, will ensure that those shifted to Barda have different family genes. "It is set process of selecting the animals for gene-pool conservation programme. We will be shifting lions and lionesses having different family genes for the breeding. So the genetic diversity can be maintained. Further, we will be picking lions who barge into human habitat often for shifting to the new place,” said Singh.
To feed these lions, a prey base has also been developed in Barda Sanctuary. "There has been a breeding centre for Sambar deer (Rusa Unicolor) at Killeshwar temple in Barda Sanctuary. This place was the forest reserve of erstwhile king Jamsaheb of Jamnagar.”

Don’t shift Gir lions to MP: Gujarat to SC.

Express news service : New Delhi, Tue Apr 03 2012, 03:50 hrs
The Gujarat government on Monday opposed in the Supreme Court any effort by the Centre to translocate Asiatic lions from its Gir sanctuary to Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
Appearing before a Forest Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and C K Prasad, senior advocate Shyam Divan said the state had sufficient wherewithal and will to conserve the lions’ population and it was not advisable to trans-locate them.
The state said that efforts should be made for translocation of the cheetah from South Africa to Kuno Palpur instead, and lions should be added gradually after sufficient time.
The Gujarat government is fighting a battle in the Supreme Court against the translocation of lions in the wake of a PIL filed by an environment group seeking their translocation to Madhya Pradesh.
At an earlier hearing, the Gujarat government had argued against the need to move the Asiatic lions from Gir. This had prompted the Supreme Court to observe that the big cats were not the “property” of the state, but belong to the country.
The opposition from the state comes despite the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) also voting against the Gujarat government’s reluctance to shift the lions.

Guj opposes in SC move to translocate Asiatic lions to MP

PTI | 08:04 PM,Apr 02,2012 New Delhi, Apr 2 (PTI) Gujarat today opposed in the Supreme Court any effort by the Centre to translocate Asiatic lions from its Gir sanctuary to Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh. Appearing before a special forest bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and C K Prasad, senior counsel Shyam Divan said the state had sufficient wherewithal and will to conserve the lions' population and it was not advisable to translocate them. The state said that instead efforts should be made for translocation of the extinct cheetah from South Africa to Kuno Palpur and only after sufficient time efforts if any should be made to add lions gradually to that sanctuary. Otherwise "lions will not allow the cheetahs to survive in the sanctuary". Further, he said that both the animals being predators it would be difficult for them to find sufficient preys in the sanctuary immediately. The state government is fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court against translocation of lions in the wake of a PIL filed by an environment group seeking their translocation to Madhya Pradesh. Assailing the assumption that lions were becoming extinct in Gujarat, the counsel quoting statistics from the Wildlife Institute of India claimed that population of tigers in Panna forest reserve of Madhya Pradesh had shown a steady decline as there is no single tiger there by 2009 as against 25 in 2002. It is on account of "systemic failure" involving the forest and bureaucratic officials that the tiger population had come down in Madhya Pradesh, the counsel said. Quoting a number of earlier apex court rulings, the state argued that issues relating to wildlife and translocations should be left to the discretion of the experts and courts should not interfere in such matters.

Etawah lion safari being revived.

Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s dream project — a lion safari in Etawah — is now being revived by the Akhilesh Yadav government. The project had been shelved by the previous Mayawati government.
“The project has been restarted and we are preparing the master plan. Permission in this regard has been taken from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA),” said principal forest conservator J.S. Asthana on Sunday.
The project, which was started in 2005 in Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav’s native village Sefai in Etawah district, will be spread over 50 acres of forest area in the district and was originally estimated to cost around `20 crores. The fresh cost of the projected that has been delayed by more than six years is being worked out.
The forest officials are also working towards fulfilling certain conditions that had been imposed by the CZA for the final approval of the project.
The Central Zoo Authority had asked the state government to set up a breeding centre for lions so that lions brought form outside could be mated here. “The lions brought from other states will be returned and the new- born lion cubs will be left in the safari so that they can adapt to the conditions,” the official said.
The Asiatic lions, which are facing a serious threat of extinction, will be provided a natural breeding atmosphere in the proposed safari in Sefai that is ensconced between the Yamuna and Chambal rivers. The Asiatic Lions are now confined to the Gir forest reserve in Gujarat.
Mr Asthana said that Etawah had a remarkable similarity of temperature and humidity, vegetation, ruggedness of the terrain with the Gir forest reserve and this would help in breeding lions.

Growing population: Leopards struggle in lions’ den, prowl outside Gir.

Hiral Dave : Rajkot, Mon Apr 02 2012, 06:24 hrs
Fight for space and food in the only abode of Asiatic Lion is forcing leopards to move outside the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary (GWS), which has led to more man-animal conflicts of late.
In the last 15 days, at least five children have fallen prey to the big cat while 13 persons have been attacked by the beast over the last one year in the coastal areas of Junagadh and Amreli districts, located in the periphery of the sanctuary.
According to the forest department, three leopards have been captured in the last 15 days from outskirts of villages in Veraval taluka of Junagadh.
Top forest officials, who came running to examine the sites of recent attacks, said the department is mulling over some population control measures for leopards, as their number is rapidly increasing both at GWS and Sakkarbaug Zoo.
The zoo, one of the oldest in India, is basically a lion breeding centre, but it is packed with man-eater leopards, which are now considered too dangerous to be released in the forest.
In fact, officials said, leopard population is increasing as fast as that of Asiatic lions.
As per the 2011 Census, the population of leopards in the sanctuary — spread over 1,412 sq km in Junagadh — touched the mark of 450, almost same as that of Asiatic lions. And nearly 170 of them have dispersed to peripheral areas on the coastline. This has become a cause of concern for humans, especially labourers working in mines and sugarcane fields in Veraval and Kodinar talukas.
Officials say that shrinking natural habitat coupled with increasing lion and leopard population has led to dispersion of these two big cats outside forest areas. They generally take shelter in mango and sugarcane fields for days.
Leopard, which is an opportunistic hunter, prefers to stay in the revenue areas, which increases the chances of conflict with humans, they said.
“All the children who have fallen prey (to leopards) in the last couple of days are of labourers working in agricultural fields or mines,” said Principal Conservator of Forest K Gohel. Forest teams led by Gohel asked labourers to take precautions like avoiding sleeping in the open. They were specifically asked not to eat and throw non-vegetarian cooked food in the open.
The incidents have led to changes in the lifestyle in the coastal belts of Veraval, from where all the recent incidents were reported. Labourers no longer work after sunset and prefer to work only in groups during the day. “Parents now accompany their children on their way to school and also while returning home. Children are no longer allowed to play in the fields,” said Umeshsing, a labourer.