Thursday, May 31, 2012

No complaints against those harassing lion king.

RAJKOT: Gujarat's forest department is facing a strange dilemma. Officials would like to book people who harass the Asiatic Lion in Gir and surrounding areas so that they can teach the pranksters a lesson and set an example. But if they do take legal recourse, they fear losing the sympathy of locals, an important factor in the successful conservation of the wild cat in its last home in the world.
There have been a couple of instances in the recent past when lions have attacked their tormentors leading to tragic consequences. On April 17, a lion brutally attacked and killed a 35-year-old man in Dholadri village in Rajula taluka of Amreli district after his friends and he pelted stones at the wild cat feeding on a cow. They snatched away the prey which enraged the lion.
Sources say forest department officials knew exactly what had happened, but chose not to take action. They even paid Rs 1.5 lakh compensation to the relatives. The compensation is paid to only those who are killed by accident and have not harassed the lion.
In another incident, a lion attacked two people who were part of the group harassing it near Otha village, some 20 km from Mahuva in Bhavnagar district on May 29. The group had ventured too close to the animal and cornered it. Again, no complaint was filed under the Wildlife Protection Act.
"If we file a complaint against those who injured while watching the lions in the revenue area, we may lose the sympathy of local people, who might turn hostile towards the animals. We have to take care of all aspects," said a senior forest official from Bhavnagar.
"Locals have been supportive of the conservation of lions on more occasions than one. So, during these kinds of incidents, we need to be tactful. People's support is important in protection of wild animals, particularly when these incidents occur in revenue areas," argued the forest officer.
Wildlife activists, however, believe strict action should be taken against those harassing lions. "There is an urgent need to increase patrolling in the areas were lions are found in good numbers outside the sanctuary. One can now find the big cats in coastal areas and often become a major attraction for locals," said Vipul Laheri, honorary wildlife warden of Amreli. "Complaints should be filed against those who are found harassing lions to set an example."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Police seize leopard skin worth 3 lakh, three held.

PUNE: The Pune crime branch on Tuesday arrested three persons on Fergusson college Road and seized a leopard skin worth Rs 3 lakh from them.
The police said the suspects Mahendra Shivaji Donhe (25) who lives in Janata Vasahat and Deepak Dhami (29) a resident of Kothrud hailed from Nepal, and Nilesh Eknath Dhadve (24) is from Vadgaon Burdruk. Acting on a tip-off the anti-terrorism cell of the Pune crime branch led by inspector Sunil Tambe laid a trap and nabbed the suspects on Tuesday afternoon.
Tambe said that the skin has been sent to the Zoological Survey of India for further inspection.
"The officials at the Zoological Survey of India told us that the skin was of a four-year-old leopard," Tambe said.
Tambe said that police constable Deepak Mate received a tip-off that three persons from Kothrud area were preparing to sell leopard skin. "We laid a trap and nabbed the three suspects and recovered the leopard skin," he said.
The police suspect that the trio may have brought the skin from Gujarat or Rajasthan. "We are investigating whether they have any previous criminal record," Tambe said.
Tambe said that the suspect Donhe works as a mechanic with a water purifier company, while Dhami works as a salesman in a jewellery shop in Pune. Dhadve works as an estate agent. "A case against them has been registered with the Deccan Gymkhana police station," he added.
The investigating team comprised police constables Appa Gaikwad, Sandip Patil, Ganesh Koli, Sharad Jadhav and Kashinath Kolekar.

Harassed lion attacks 2 near Mahuva.

MAHUVA: A lion attacked two persons near Otha village, some 20 km from Mahuva in Bhavnagar district, after a group of people cordoned off the animal and harassed it.
According to forest department officials, two injured persons have been identified as Ranchod Jingala (66), a resident of Otha village, and Manu Jamod (34) of Sodvadar village. One of injured person has been referred to Bhavnagar Civil Hospital.
"On Tuesday, large number of people gathered to watch lion near the village and the mob literally cordoned off the lion. The lion was harassed so much that it attacked the mob, leaving two persons were injured,'' a forest official said.
Forest officials added that there is only one lion living alone in the revenue area near Otha village for a long time. The five-year-old lion, which got separated from this group, has been spotted near Otha village since last few months. The animal has generated a lot of excitement among the local villagers as it has been spotted many times along the road going to Talaja.
It has become a difficult task for forest department to control the people to watch lion. In fact, forest department had planned to shift the 'lonely' lion to forest area to avoid human-wild animal conflict and placed cages as well, but failed to get success.
Officials said the incident was waiting to happen as people rush to the area as soon as the news of the lion being spotted spreads.
"Many a times, this lion is spotted in the bushes along the roadside. People have also tried to go near it to have a closer look. We have deployed our forest staff to keep a close eye on the lion as well as on passersby so that it is not disturbed. However, it has become impossible to control the mob,'' the forest official said.

Gujarat's Gir Sanctuary authorities construct water ponds for animals.

Authorities in the Sasan Gir National Park in Gujarat, which houses the largest number of Asiatic Lions, have constructed artificial water ponds for animals, as they often stray out towards human habitation in search of water to seek relief from the intense heat.
VERAVAL: Authorities in the Sasan Gir National Park in Gujarat, which houses the largest number of Asiatic Lions, have constructed artificial water ponds for animals, as they often stray out towards human habitation in search of water to seek relief from the intense heat.

With the mercury soaring each passing day and natural water sources drying up, the forest authorities have constructed water ponds, which are filled periodically by tractor-driven tankers for the animals to quench their thirst.

Babra Range Forest Officer R D Vansh said the ponds are filled with water twice a day.

"The babra vidi falls under the Veraval range of the Junagadh district of Gujarat Forest Department. Total 14 lions are present in the babra vidi, out of which three are females, three are males and eight are cubs. Other then these 50-60 are spotted deer and 108 are blue bull. The forest department has constructed three artificial ponds for these animals, which are filled with water twice in a day," said Vansh.

However, such instances of wild animals entering into human populated regions are quite common because of human encroachments on animal habitats, which restrict their movement leading to man-animal conflict.

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

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

Seven rivers that pass through Gir namely Hiran, Saraswati, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Ghodavadi, and Raval have started drying up.

Less than 250 watering points are presently available for lions, leopards, ungulates, including spotted deer, Sambar, Nilgai, Chinkara, antelope, and wild boar.

Besides, Gir harbours around thousand species of birds and 26 species of reptiles. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Get ready for lion safari experience in Amreli grasslands.

Hiral Dave : Rajkot, Tue May 29 2012, 05:29 hrs
As flow of tourists to Sasan Gir — the last adobe of Asiatic lions — continues to rise, the state Forest Department has decided to convert Ambardi vidi (grassland) into a safari park at an estimated cost of Rs 5 crore.
This will be the second such safari zone to be developed after Devalia Park near Sasan.
“The new interpretation zone will come up at Dhari village in Amreli district,” said Principal Conservator of Forest Pradeep Khanna.
Forest department officials said a pride will be shifted to this reserved forest spread over 4,000 hectares, where tourists can see the big cats in their natural environment.
Fencing work has been completed and construction of tourist facilities is underway, Khanna said, adding the place will have all the facilities to make it a complete tourist spot.
Officials hope that developing a new safari will help them handle the increasing tourists flow in a better way with Sasan, the main centre of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, reaching the saturation point in terms of infrastructure development.
This year, over four lakh tourists visited the sanctuary, which is four times more than the total flow registered last year.
Officials say that Khusboo Gujarat ki tourism publicity campaign featuring actor Amitabh Bachchan coupled with improved infrastructure like roads and hotels has transformed Sasan into a hotspot for tourists.
Hospitality sector’s wait over
A new interpretation zone is something that even the hospitality industry has been waiting for.
Industry insiders say that at times many people go back without enjoying safari due to overflow of tourists. And the zone, they believe, will bring this to an end.
“Till 2010, there was lack of good accommodation, good infrastructure and dinning facilities, so people were reluctant to visit Sasan. But over the last two years, more than 10 new hotels have come up,” said Mukesh Mehta, president of Sasan-Gir Hotel Association.
However, he added, “many guests, who pay thousands of rupees and stay here for days to visit the sanctuary, cannot get the safari permit”.
At present, the forest department issues 90 safari permits every day for three shifts.
Mehta further said that they are planning to introduce canters, besides gypsies, for safaris in order to accommodate more tourists.
“A canter can accommodate around 40 tourists, this is equivalent to 10 permits. So by allowing six visits of canter, three in the morning and three in the afternoon, we can accommodate 240 guests in a day. This will also reduce the load of 60 gypsies. The cost of the visit will also come down drastically,” he added.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Khushboo campaign led to 25% rise in foreign tourists: Govt.

AHMEDABAD: Khushboo Gujarat Ki campaign featuring Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and promoting Gujarat as a tourism destination, propelled the international tourists arrival by 26% to 1.75 lakh, a senior official of state Tourism department said. Intra-state tourists arrivals too rose by 14.04% to 1.72 crore in 2011-12.

The campaign showcased the Gir forest, the only habitat for Asiatic lions in the world, Dhordo Rann, famous for white sand and Mandvi beach in Kutch under the catch line of 'Kutch Nahi Dekha To Koochh Nahi Dekha'; Somnath Temple under the tag line 'Aapne Matha Teka Somnath Main?' and the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. The campaign was prepared by advertisement agency Ogilvy & Mather.

According to a data released by Gujarat Industrial & Technical Consultancy Organisation Limited (GITCO), the number of tourists rose to 1.98 crore in 2010-11 and to 2.23 crore in 2011-12 from 1.70 crore in 2009-10.

"The year 2010-11 saw a rise of 28 lakh tourists while the year 2011-12 saw a rise of 25 lakh tourists. Tourism industry growth in the state is twice that of national average," said Vipul Mitra, state principal secretary of Tourism and Aviation department.

The arrival of non-resident Indian (NRI) tourists rose 10.89% to 2.85 lakhs while those from other states rose 8.56% to 47.28 lakhs in 2011-12.

The data was prepared on the basis of actual field data of hotel occupancy rate in the state, particularly night stay by the guests. Recently, the advertisement also featured on Delhi metro to showcase the tourism potential of the state.

Apart from the ad campaign, tourism department road-shows in the metros like Mumbai and Kolkata and hosted festivals like Saputara Monsoon festival, Rannotsav (Desert Festival), Patangotsav (Kite Festivals) and events like bird watchers conference. The state government is also upgrading infrastructure facilities and increasing entertainment. Such hubs include Ahmedabad Metro, Ahmedabad Rural (north Gujarat), Surat (south Gujarat), Vadodara (central Gujarat), Rajkot, Junagadh & Jamnagar (Saurashtra) and Bhuj (Kutch).

Gujarat will unveil a 15-year strategy to promote Gujarat as a tourist destination. It will rope in consultants to prepare a vision document for leveraging the strengths of Gujarat in the sector. The government is also making efforts to promote the state as a destination for shooting of Hollywood and Bollywood films. It has also set up a stall at ongoing Cannes Film Festival. A special cell is also created at Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd (TCGL) to handle and coordinate film shooting at various location in the state.

The state government wants tourism sector to be the largest contributor to its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) by 2025. Manufacturing and agriculture are major contributors to the GSDP as of now. 


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Leave the lions alone or get thrashed.

AHMEDABAD: Respect the king, or get beaten up. This simple rule is one of the key reasons why the Asiatic lion is prospering in its last home in the world-the Gir sanctuary. In the last one year, there have been half a dozen instances where villagers, living in and around the sanctuary, have thrashed up tourists who harassed the king of the jungle.

On Sunday, four youth from Bhavnagar drove near to a mating lion couple in Liliya, which has 28 lions. Safe in the SUV, they thought they would get away with anything until the villagers rounded them up.

"These youth disturbed a mating pair. Seeing the car, the cats ran away from the area. We saw this and when they came out of the area, we pulled them out of the car," said a resident of a nearby village. The youth were let off with a warning.

The number of lions has risen steadily over the years in Gujarat-from just 13 in 1900s to 178 in 1960 to 411 today. "The bonding between the villagers and the lions is very strong. People here have even sacrificed their cattle for the lions," said Mahendrasinh Khuman, a resident of Kankraj village.

Only in March, a local villager was threatened with social boycott by his own people when his relatives got too close to some lions in a field. The guests wanted better photographs of the cats, but this enraged the villagers. "We prefer visitors maintain a distance of at least 300m from the lions," a villager said. "They should be ready for a thrashing if they get up close and personal."

A tourism campaign coupled with under-prepared forest department is leading to such a situation, say villagers. "The area has just one beat guard and a forester manning 28 lions. These lions moved out of the sanctuary in 2000 and have made this area as their permanent home," said Manoj Joshi, president of the Paryavaran Trust. Sunday's incident was the fifth instance of villagers having to intervene to stop tourists harassing lions.

Some villagers and NGOs have made a representation before the district collector demanding more guards.

The Last 400 Asiatic Lions Need More Room to Grow–but Where Will They Go?

May 22, 2012
They are mostly forgotten today, but Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) once roamed in vast numbers across the Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean and Middle East until overhunting brought them to within a hair’s breadth of extinction. By 1907, when an Indian prince finally banned hunting and protected the last lions, only 13 members of the subspecies remained. Today, after more than a century of conservation, the population of Asiatic lions stands at a high of around 400 animals, all of which live in and around the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in the Indian state of Gujarat, just a few kilometers from the Arabian Sea. The animals are now so identified with their sole remaining habitat that they are usually referred to as Gir or Gujarat lions.
But the success in restoring the Gir lion population has brought new challenges to conservation efforts. The lions have outgrown their protected sanctuary and share their habitat with more than 100,000 people who live in the villages surrounding the forest. The lions occasionally kill livestock, enter people’s homes and, very rarely, attack or kill humans. More often, the lions themselves are killed or injured when they come into contact with crude, deadly electric fences built around farms or fall into any of the tens of thousands of roughly hewn open wells in the region. Earlier this month a female lion fell into a well and suffered broken teeth and other injuries. (For more on these wells, see my article in the November 2011 issue of Lion magazine.)
Because there is very little space for the lions to grow into, many conservationists and the Indian government think the smart thing to do is to transfer some of them elsewhere. Such habitat diversification would serve to protect the Gir lions from a catastrophic disease outbreak, fire or other natural event that could wipe the subspecies out—a threat for any species that only exists at a single location. The most frequently discussed destination for translocated lions is the Indian state of Madya Pradesh (MP), where the recently restored Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary contains ample habitat and prey for any relocated predators.
Unfortunately, the idea of moving lions to Kuno doesn’t sit well in Gujarat. Despite the occasional conflicts between humans and animals, the people of Gujarat are fiercely proud and protective of their lions. Many fear that MP will not adequately protect the cats. They may have reason to worry: MP has an extremely poor record of protecting its tigers, with 453 deaths in the past decade. (India’s Bengal tiger population dropped from 3,700 animals in 2002 to around 1,500 in 2011, mostly due to poaching.) The two state governments have been arguing for a few years and relations hit a low point last week when Madya Pradesh’s tourism department started using images of Gir lions on its Web site, even though there are no lions in the state yet and may not be for years to come.
Some lion advocates worry that MP is not serious about conservation. Kishore Kotecha, founder of the Wildlife Conservation Trust of India, which is dedicated to preserving Asiatic lions, says he used to think that some lions should be moved to MP but now he isn’t sure. “Do they really want it for conservation purposes or do they want it for tourism?” he asks. MP, for its part, has invested millions of dollars restoring the habitat of Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary for the flora and fauna already there and says the lions, too, would be fully protected.
Luke Hunter, president of the wild cat conservation organization Panthera, thinks some of the objections to moving lions from Gir may come more from pride rather than science. “Gujarat has done an extraordinary job of saving the Asiatic lion,” he says. “They think no one else can do the job they’ve done, and moving them would just increase the risk to the lions.” But he says the lions have reached the threshold of what they can do naturally at that location and have very little habitat in Gir that they can recolonize.
Hunter, who has two decades of experience moving African lions to new habitats, says selectively removing some Asiatic lions from Gir would not affect the population size in the forest. “We know enough from 20 years of African translocations to selectively remove individuals from Gujarat that would otherwise represent losses or mortalities,” he says. “Whatever lions you remove just creates more space for the remaining animals.” Panthera is not involved in Gir, but Indian experts consulted with Hunter 16 years ago when they first started thinking about translocation.
Hunter says the experience gained in southern Africa, where more than 500 lions in more than 40 different populations have been successfully relocated, shows that any translocation in India has a decent chance of success, especially when combined with the knowledge gained in Gujarat over the past century. “Gujarat needs to be congratulated, but now let’s transfer their expertise and make sure that lions persist in India regardless of how they do in Gujarat. There’s no good argument for not looking at that second or third population site.”
But even as the two states debate the issue, Gujarat is making its own efforts to create a second Asiatic lion population to avoid the risk of any potential catastrophic events. “Gujarat already has started development of another home for lions at Barda Wildlife Sanctuary, which is about 200 kilometers away from Gir,” Kotecha says. As many as eight lions are due at Barda as early as August of this year, after the annual monsoon season.
Will that be enough? “This is very good, but what’s next,” Divyabhanusinh Chavada, a member of the National Board for Wildlife in India, told Daily News & Analysis last month. “The lions are happily multiplying. Today, they are 411, tomorrow they’ll be 500. Where will they go next?”
That’s a good question. India’s human population hit 1.2 billion last year, which doesn’t leave much room for big cats. But no matter what, India remains passionate about its lions—and for now, they aren’t going anywhere.
Photos © and courtesy of Kishore Kotecha. Used with permission

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cub Class...


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Leopard found dead in Little Rann.

TNN May 15, 2012, 11.09PM IST
RAJKOT: A six-year-old leopard was found dead in Little Rann of Kutch on Monday night.
According to sources, salt pan workers found the leopard's body, some three km inside Kharaghoda village in Patdi taluka of Surendranagar district, and informed the forest officials.
Forest department officials said that leopard died in a vehicle accident in the Rann.
"We rushed to the spot as soon as we got the information. There are number of trucks running inside the Little Rann for transporting the salts and one of the vehicles may have hit the wild cat. The injuries suggest this," said an official.
Sources say that leopards accidentally come into the Little Rann and nearby villages. It is not their natural habitat. "We assume that leopard may have come from Halvad or Dhrangdhra area where leopards are spotted regularly. Just two months ago, a leopard was spotted in Jesda village in Dhrangdhra taluka. Leopards are also found in sugarcane fields in Halvad," said the official.
Last year, a leopard was found dead near Bubvana canal in the Little Rann.
"Since last few days, there were rumors about the presence of a leopard in this area but given the spread of this region, nobody could spot the wildcat and finally it was found dead on Monday night,'' officials said.

Vultures' census to be conducted on May 26, 27.

TNN May 17, 2012, 10.52PM IST
RAJKOT: The Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, an autonomous body of Forests and Environment department, will carry out a vultures' census in association with local NGOs in the state on May 26 and 27.
The last vultures' population estimation was carried out in 2010. Recently, the state government said in the state assembly that there are only 1,065 vultures remaining in the state.
According to nature conservationists, three species of vultures endemic to South Asia, the Oriental white-rumped vulture, long-billed vulture and slender-billed vulture are at high risk of extinction.
Use of the veterinary drug diclofenac is responsible for these three species reaching the brink of extinction. The central government had banned veterinary use of the drug in May 2006.
Vulture conservationists say that despite the ban, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is still available in the open market in 30ml bulk.
According to officials, in Gujarat, there were 2,135 vultures in 2005 which declined to 1,065 in 2010 showing a 50% decline. The vulture species are protected under scheduled one category of Wildlife Protection Act.
However, conservationists are hopeful that the rate of decline of endangered vultures might be slower than earlier years as many efforts are being put in place by forest department, different birds' conservation groups and local NGOs to save the vanishing vultures.

6 lions enter a house in Junagadh; 1 injured.

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 16:53 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
The problem of man-animal conflict is getting worse by the day in Saurashtra where the Asiatic Lions are thriving in their last abode in Gir forest.
Early on Wednesday, a pride of six lions, including cubs, attacked a man and his livestock in his house in Umed village near Una taluka in Junagadh district.
The man, Amba Donga, sustained wounds in his leg while one of his cows died due to injuries sustained when the cubs attacked.
Forest officers claim that the lions would have ventured out in search of prey. Livestock is considered easy prey for the wild beast.
Besides, orchards surrounding the deciduous forest also provide cool environment for them and they are known to frequent the area in summers.
While Donga was rushed to hospital, forest officials conceded that it was issue of conflict. Deputy conservator of forest at Gir national park, Anshuman Sharma said that they are devising strategies to tackle the lion menace in the village and safeguard people and their livestock.
Of late, they had noticed that the wild cats were freely roaming in the area and creating fear amongst the residents. Activists working towards lion conservation assert that the wild cats are reclaiming their centuries-old
"Lions have reached upto Gondal near Rajkot, Mahuva in Bhavnagar, and coastal areas of Probandar. Some lions have been brought back by forest department, but reclamation of their territory is bound to happen as their population expands. The lion census pegs the population at 411, but we estimate the population would easily be close to 500," said Dinesh Goswami, an activist in Kodinar.

Past efforts to settle lions in Madhya Pradesh had failed.

TNN May 17, 2012, 03.14AM IST
AHMEDABAD: While Madhya Pradesh is pitching Palpur Kuno as second home for the Asiatic lions, attempts to settle lions in the forest near this sanctuary had failed miserably in the past.
The Scindias of Gwalior advocated for the forests of Vindhya Pradesh where they had tried to introduce African lions. Sudipta Mitra describes the episode in his book 'Gir Forest and the Saga of the Asiatic Lion'. He writes, "Lord Curzon, while visiting Gwalior to shoot tigers in 1904, encouraged the Maharaja to rear African lions in his territory and as a good gesture, Curzon wrote a reference letter, which helped him a lot in getting the cubs."
The king showed interest and allotted annual budget of Rs 1.5 lakh for the project. His official visited Egypt and Ethiopia and managed to ship 10 cubs to Bombay. Three cubs died on the way. The king took personal interest and went to the Bombay port to receive the cubs.
The cubs were reared in an enclosure called Tapovan. "After a year, two females gave birth to five cubs. Enthusiastically, the Maharaja introduced four pairs in the state jungles at Sheopur (near present Palpur Kuno sanctuary) district, called Mohna covering an area of over 1000 square miles, as an experiment to see how the lions could settle down and breed," Mitra narrates.
But this step proved disastrous. The lions started attacking livestock and finally indulged in man-eating. "From 1910 to 1912, nine people were killed, they were once again caught and reintroduced in a schedule forest at Sheopur in 1915. Within four years, the lions got disbursed and created panic as man-eaters. Finally, they were killed at Neemach, Panna, Jhansi, Muraina and Lalitpur. By 1928, all had been killed except a lioness, which was eventually tracked down and shot in Jhansi district," read the sad account.
Various reasons were attributed to failure of this project including as another historian Arthur Blayney Percoval said, "If anyone was to blame, it was the Maharaja of Gwalior who wished to try and reintroduce the lions, which in the former age abounded in the forest of Schinde."
Efforts to introduce lions continued post-British era. The first initiative to relocate Asiatic lions from Gir to Chandraprapha forest in Uttar Pradesh was in 1957. But it ended in 1965 after all lions disappeared mysteriously in 1965.

Cheetahs out of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat seeks legal view.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN May 14, 2012, 04.13AM IST
AHMEDABAD: The fight to save Gujarat's USP, the Asiatic Lion, has begun in earnest. The Supreme Court's order staying the reintroduction of cheetah in Kuno Palpur has not only dealt a blow to the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), but has got the Gujarat forest department officers on their toes to save its USP.
The apex court had recently stayed the Rs 300 crore cheetah reintroduction project and sought to know if saving cheetah or lion was its priority.
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed in 2006 by the Bio-diversity Conservation Trust of India, Delhi seeking translocation of lion to Kuno-Palpur. The 2010 census showed presence of 411 lions in the Gir National Park and its surroundings.
"This statement has made the Gujarat officials run from pillar to post seeking legal opinion about saving the lions from going out of Gujarat," said a senior forest department officer.
An officer from the forest department said the state has plans to stall the move by the Madhya Pradesh government to use the lions for tourism.
Kuno-Palpur was considered after there was a sharp decline of the lion population in 1988. The Wildlife Institute of India found that the lion population in Gir was totally insecure because it had risen from a very small base, making the population genetically homogenous. Secondly, when a small population is restricted to a single site, an epidemic could prove catastrophic and wipe out the entire population.
Thus to re-establish a second home for these lions, the Wildlife Institute of India in 1993 undertook a survey to identify the potential second home of the Asiatic Lion. Accordingly, the Kuno-Palpur project period was identified to a span of 20 years i.e. 1995 to 2015.
"While the entire project was being planned, there was no mention of tourism aspect. If the apex court judgment goes against the state and the lions have to be shifted, the government can move a pray that tourism related to lions should only be the USP of the Gujarat. Madhya Pradesh should be restricted from using the lions for tourism," said a senior forest department official.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'Lonely' lion walks away from Mahuva forest.

MAHUVA (BHAVNAGAR): A "lonely" Asiatic lion that has walked away the forest area in Mahuva range has because a cause of worry for forest department officials, who are fearing a man-animal conflict.
The five-year-old lion, which got separated from this group, has been spotted near Otha village, some 20 kms from Mahuva. The animal has generated a lot of excitement among the local villagers as it has been spotted many times along the road going to Talaja.
Forest officials are trying to relocate the lion in its natural environment considering that besides a fear of man-animal conflict, there is also a chemical factory in the area where it is roaming.
"Many a times, this lion is spotted in the bushes along the roadside. People have also tried to go near it to have a closer look. We have deployed our forest staff to keep a close eye on the lion as well as on passersby so that it is not disturbed. However, it is not possible to stop people everytime and there is chance that it may attack," said a forest official.
Forest officials' fears are not unfounded. Recently, a lion had attacked a man in Dholadri village of Amreli district when a group of people tried to disturb it.
Meanwhile, officials have also collected water samples from the site where lion is located in Otha. "There is a chemical unit in the village and water is being released outside the unit. So, as precautionary measures, we collected the samples and asked the unit officials to stop releasing water there. There is a possibility that lion may drink water and face health complications," the official said.
"As of now, we are identifying the suitable sites to relocate the lion where it is not disturbed by humans," he added.

Gir lion on MP website, Gujarat upset.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN May 14, 2012, 02.40AM IST
Neighbour Using Big Cat To Sell Kuno Palpur Sanctuary
AHMEDABAD: A lioness staring into the lens with a stately gaze. This one photograph on the Madhya Pradesh (MP) Tourism department's website to sell the Kuno Palpur Sanctuary has upset government officials in Gujarat - the only home of the Asiatic lion in the world at present.

MP Tourism has started selling the Kuno Palpur as an alternative site for the wild cats even as the two neighbouring states fight a legal battle in the Supreme Court over shifting some lions from the Gir sanctuary.
While MP is desperately seeking lions, Gujarat is steadfastly holding on to them, not ready to share the `Khusboo Gujarat Ki' mascot with anyone.
Is conserving the lion really MP's aim as it claimed in the Supreme Court, or does it simply want to bring in more tourists by adding another juicy attraction? This is a question many in Gujarat are asking.
Talk of some lions being shifted started again last week when the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the cheetah reintroduction programme by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in Kuno Palpur.
The text on the MP website is carefully worded. "Kuno has been selected as an alternate home for the endangered Asiatic lion, which is now confined only to the Gir National Park and Sanctuary of Gujarat," the site says. "The area (Kuno Palpur) is a historical range of Asiatic lions."
A senior Gujarat government official alleged that MP's lion reintroduction plan had a clear commercial angle - attract more tourists. He alleged that tourism within Kuno Palpur already existed and once the lions were shifted, the number of tourists would only go up.
Lions vs Tigers
In its bid to sell Kuno Palpur sanctuary as an alternative site for lions, the Madhya Pradesh tourism department website takes note of Gujarat's objection that there are tigers in the area. "There is very little evidence of tiger in the area," the MP site states. In that case, MP needs to correct the information on its forest department website, which sells Kuno Palpur as a tourist attraction and states that there are tigers in the area, along with other animals. The two big cats are sworn enemies and lions, flourishing in Gir, are unlikely to survive a territorial struggle with tigers.

PlanetWildlife Itineraries Promote Awareness of Endangered Species.

PRWeb Published 11:00 a.m., Sunday, May 13, 2012
With renewed focus on endangered species highlighted by Endangered Species Day in the USA on May 18th; the recent release of the film ‘African Cats’ endorsed by Prince William, and new figures from South Africa indicating rhino horn and ivory poaching are their highest levels since bans were introduced in 1990, PlanetWildlife is promoting experiential group and tailor-made safari itineraries aimed at increasing public awareness and support. Apart from the black rhino of Africa, some of the most threatened creatures on the planet include the Asiatic Lion of India, the Chinese Panda bear (now bred largely in controlled environments), and the spectacular Blue Whale, most commonly seen in the waters off Sri Lanka.
(PRWEB) May 13, 2012
With renewed focus on endangered species highlighted by Endangered Species Day in the USA on May 18th; the recent release of the film ‘African Cats’ endorsed by Prince William, and new figures from South Africa indicating rhino horn and ivory poaching are their highest levels since bans were introduced in 1990, PlanetWildlife is promoting experiential group and tailor-made safari itineraries aimed at increasing public awareness and support. Apart from the black rhino of Africa, some of the most threatened creatures on the planet include the Asiatic Lion of India, the Chinese Panda bear (now bred largely in controlled environments), and the spectacular Blue Whale, most commonly seen in the waters off Sri Lanka.
Priced at US$2,150/£1,327 per person, the eight-day tailor-made Kenyan Safari ( and Explore Kenya (for small groups) reasonably priced from US$2,520/£1,555 per person, allow wildlife lovers to get close to and observe lion, elephant and, in the case of the latter itinerary, the threatened black rhino which can be spotte in the Nakuru National Park. Statistics from South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs indicate that 170 rhino have been poached since January this year.... Last year a total of 252 animals were poached in the Kruger Park, up from 146 in 2010.
In Asia, particular concern is directed towards the Asiatic Lion which are thought to number just over 300 and are to be found in their natural habitat only in Northern India’s Gir Forest National Park. PlanetWildlife offers an extensive 15-day Royals in the Jungle itinerary priced from US$3,074/£1,897 per person which departs from Mumbai to Gujarat and takes in Velavadar National Park, Gir National Park, and Kanha National Park, where elusive Indian leopards can also be spotted.
PlanetWildlife’s seven-day Images of China itinerary offers numerous opportunities to observe the Giant Panda ( at close quarters. The nation’s most famous native mammal thrives in over 60 designated reserves in South-West and Central China, mainly Sichuan province. Although numbers have gradually increased over the last few years due to raised global awareness - with current estimates of around 1,600 pandas in the wild - the Giant Panda is still listed as an Endangered Species. The Images of China programme, priced from US$3,067/ £1,893 per person, commences in Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu, and includes visits to the Bifengxia Panda Reserve, and the Dapingyu and Foping Nature Reserves where both the endangered Giant Panda and Golden Monkey species are protected.                            

Lion found dead, officials talk of snake bite, ‘poison’ liquor.

Police have seized 102 barrels of liquor being fermented in the open in grasslandExpress news service : Rajkot, Fri May 11 2012, 09:30 hrs
An Asiatic lion was found dead at Pipardi village in Savarkundla taluka of Amreli district on Thursday. Authorities suspect it could have died of snake bite or poisonous effect of local liquor that was being fermented in the area in the open.
While the forest department expressed the possibility of a snake bite in its preliminary report, it did not rule out poisonous effects of liquor.
Police have seized 102 barrels of liquor being fermented in the open in grassland area located on the periphery of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary where the body was found.
“Lion is around 3-4 years old. The body has turned blue. Preliminary postmortem done by the department on the spot found some marks on a leg, which could be snake-bite,” said Deputy Conservator of Forest (Dhari range) Anshuman Sharma. “However, we have collected viscera to check the possibility of poisonous effects of liquor fermentation in the open,” he added.

More new arrivals at Dublin Zoo…this time it’s two Asian lion cubs.

Fri, 9:55 AM
IT’S FRIDAY (YAY!) – and hopefully you all know by now that, here at HQ, we love us some cute animals to welcome the weekend.
So, how glad were we to see Dublin Zoo offer us some excellent material for a bonus post this morning. Don’t worry, this doesn’t replace Hugh O’Connell’s magical animal slideshow.
The zoo has welcomed two female lion cubs from France and had photographer Patrick Bolger snap them in their new surroundings yesterday.
In six months time a male lion will be introduced to the habitat as the next part of a significant international breeding programme. But for now the un-named 19-month-old sisters have the recently-developed Asian Forests area to themselves:

Lion Cubs

  • ©Patrick Bolger Photography
    ©Patrick Bolger Photography©Patrick Bolger Photography
  • ©Patrick Bolger Photography
  • ©Patrick Bolger Photography
  • ©Patrick Bolger Photography
  • ©Patrick Bolger Photography
Asian lions are critically endangered in the wild with only 400 remaining. The entire wild population of these lions can be found in one place – the Gir Forest in India.
Dublin Zoo’s Asian Forests habitat has taken inspiration from the Indian forest. A very dry forest with a mix of deciduous trees and diverse flora and fauna, the lion habitat reflects this environment and gives the lions necessary diversity to encourage natural behavior as well as breeding.
Team leader Ciaran McMahon said that, “Both cubs are doing fantastic. They are displaying the usual characteristics of young female lions such as sniffing, scent marking and scratching the surrounding trees.”
At 19 months old they are still cubs, which means they are playful, energetic and a little cautious. One of the cubs is slightly more confident than the other. She is more of a dominant leader which is not unusual in a pride of lionesses.
To celebrate their arrival, Dublin Zoo is inviting people to suggest names for the pair of female lions based on their Indian origin. Suggestions will be accepted through the Dublin Zoo Facebook page, email or by post.

New zoo arrivals grab lions' share of attention.

By Louise Hogan
Friday May 11 2012
THEY are just 19-months-old and they already tip the scales at 110kg.
Dublin Zoo's latest arrivals -- a pair of Asian lioness cubs -- were yesterday on the prowl around their new home, the recently constructed 'Asian Forests' habitat, having arrived from Mulhouse Zoo in France four weeks ago.
"They are a little unpredictable at the moment as they are trying to take in everything," said team leader Ciaran McMahon. "It is their first time away from their pride and mom."
Mr McMahon added: "They have a big fondness for chicken and we also feed them 7kg of pork and horse meat every second day."
The zoo plans to breed the pair with a six-year-old male as part of a European-wide zoo breeding programme. Asian lions are critically endangered in the wild with only 400 remaining -- all in the Gir Forest in India.
- Louise Hogan
Irish Independent

Friday, May 4, 2012

Indian states roar in court over a pride of lions.

Thirsty lions lap up water from a rivulet at the Gir forest in Gujarat, India.

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar | 3 May 2012 |

NEW DELHI: The close to extinction Asiatic lion may be struggling to survive, but provincial governments of the two Indian States of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have launched a no-holds-barred battle for their custody in the country’s highest court.
The Madhya Pradesh government which is seeking custody of at least one pride of the Asiatic Lion from the forests of neighboring Gujarat, told India’s Supreme Court that the latter’s accusation about its incapability to handle the lions was misplaced.
The atmosphere in the Apex Court got a shade charged with the solicitor representing Madhya Pradesh countering the allegations of Gujarat’s officials, including that it had no prey base, rampant poaching and of its forest officials’ incapability to conserve the lions.
Lion conservationists are unanimous that isolating some Asiatic lions is crucial to achieve the wider the goal of preserving diversity of their gene. To achieve this, the provincial government in Madhya Pradesh set aside the Palpur Kuno sanctuary for the purpose and a pride of Asiatic lions was to be relocated there. But Gujarat refused to part with them when it came to physically implementing the process of the lion relocation.
The matter reached the Supreme Court of India and has been dragging there for some years after an environmentalist petitioned it to settle the matter for the sake of conserving the breed of lions. But recently the Supreme Court decided to hear the case every Monday and the final judgment is expected by August this year.
Interestingly, the provincial governments of these two states at war for custody of the Asiatic lions are of the same political hue – the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan urged to review 'defunct' tiger cells.

NAGPUR: Worried by tiger poaching with the help of jaw traps in Palasgaon near Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is also the chairman of State Board for Wildlife (SBWL), has been urged to review functioning of tiger cells, anti-poaching units and law enforcement and come out with new and advanced mechanism to tackle the problem.
In a letter written to Chavan on April 30, Kishor Rithe, member of SWBL and chief of Satpuda Foundation, said, "Time has come to think seriously about how effective our tiger cells are and whether we really need a new and advance mechanism in Maharashtra."
The tiger cells and anti-poaching units were set up 10 years ago after detection of many wildlife poaching and trade cases in Maharashtra. "However, after almost a decade, I found that most of the district tiger cells are defunct. Police and forest officers conduct meetings as merely a formality. The tiger cells could not become an effective law enforcement mechanism with fixed objectives to regularly gather required intelligence and prevent and detect the wildlife crime cases in the state," Rithe said.
In last so many years, forest department could not build its image as the best law (forest & wildlife) enforcement agency. The new Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) will also make no difference if police and forest departments are not tuned to wildlife crime details and latest modus operandi of poachers and wildlife traders.
What needs to be done?
* Evolve a mechanism with police and forest departments to effectively use tiger cells, anti-poaching units.
* Call a meeting of forest and home ministers and secretaries of departments concerned to tackle wildlife poaching and trade.
* Take critical review of existing tiger cells and anti-poaching units and steps taken by them to curb illegal poaching and tiger deaths.
* Send message to departments concerned through this meeting that government is really serious to protect tigers.
* The meeting should be held before any such incident takes place. Gujarat government took such steps after poaching of lions in Gir and were successful.

Gir lions to roar in Mulayam’s Etawah.

Published: Monday, Apr 30, 2012, 9:15 IST
By Deepak Gidwani | Place: Lucknow | Agency: DNA
In about two years from now, the Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh would have one more thing to boast of apart from its “son of the soil” Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav - a lion safari. The idea was mooted by Yadav himself in his last regime in 2005, and would now take shape during the regime of his son and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, who is also the forest minister. Both, Mulayam and Akhilesh were born and brought up in Etawah.
UP Forest Department (UPFD) officials say Akhilesh, a graduate in environmental engineering, is keen on having the lion safari in Etawah. “In the very first meeting soon after he took over as chief minister, he issued directions for expediting the lion safari project,” says principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) HS Asthana. “We are in the process of finalizing the master plan in keeping with the directions of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA),” he added.
The safari would come up in about 150 hectares out of which 50 hectares would comprise the core area habited by lions, while the rest of the 100 hectares would serve as the buffer zone. The land for the project has already been identified in the Fisher Forest area of Etawah. The project would take about two years to complete after the CZA grants approval.
The state government recently sent a request to the Gujarat government asking for a lion and four lionesses needed for natural breeding. The Gir National Park in Junagadh (Gujarat) is the only natural habitat of pure Asian lions in Asia. When the original project had been sent to the CZA in 2005, it had granted approval on the condition that a lion breeding centre be set up as part of the safari.

Guns silence lions' roar in Mityala Wildlife Sanctuary.

KHAMBHA(AMRELI): Tigers in the Jim Corbett National Park can finally rest in peace with Uttarakhand recently banning high decibel noise within 500m around the sanctuary after complaints that noisy parties and marriages were disturbing the animals. But the handful of Asiatic lions in Mityala Wildlife Sanctuary in Amreli are not that lucky. Forget loud parties, they have to live with the sound of sporadic gunshots a stone's throw from their abode.

The Amreli district police has a firing range less than half a kilometre from the sanctuary. An application filed under Right to Information Act (RTI) by Vimalsinh Rathod, a wildlife enthusiast from Khambha, revealed the police regularly holds arms training at this hilly spot.

While Mityala was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 2004, the firing range has been there for the past 11 years. Rathod says the range should have been shifted as soon as the sanctuary was notified.

"Lions regularly come close to the firing range," Rathod said. "My RTI query revealed the forest department did not find it necessary to give permission for the range as it was a matter between two government departments."

A senior forest department officer said, "Besides the sound of gunfire, police officials ensure lions don't enter the range when training is in progress. This restricts their natural movement."

Vipul Laheri, honorary wildlife warden of Amreli, said, "Ideally, the area should be declared a silence zone. In the past too, this issue was debated when wildlife activists objected to the range." Laheri is also a member of Lion Conservation Society, Gujarat.

R L Meena, chief conservator of forests (wildlife division), Junagadh circle, said that earlier there was no lion movement in the area. "We will observe the situation now and if we find the firing range is disturbing the lions, we will request the government to take an appropriate action."

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.

Gujarat kids to explore science at Science City.

Published: Saturday, Apr 21, 2012, 20:19 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
With vacations having started at schools, Science City has come up with a novel idea to engage the students in constructive work. It has organised a 30-day mission for 30 students, where they will get hands-on experience through various experiments.
The students have been chosen from all 26 districts of Gujarat.
The mission has been jointly organised by Gujarat Science City and Department of Biotechnology. “The kids will perform experiments like why certain plants have medicinal qualities etc,” said Narottam Sahoo, senior scientist at GSC. The children were selected after evaluation of their class IX marks and preliminary marks of class X.
During the inauguration ceremony, Dr HS Singh, IFS, PCCF (Social Forestry), Forest Department, government of Gujarat, said, “Science has been neglected in the country and it is through science that we can see our country becoming a world power.”
Addressing the students, Ravi Saxena, Addl. Chief Secretary, DST, Govt of Gujarat, encouraged the students to ask questions. He said, “Today, children have enough access to so much of information around them that they cannot be taught anything. They can use these 30 days to get explore subjects.”
The children will be divided into 10 groups and will be given a project to work on. On the basis of their project and experiences, the students will be awarded Vaigyanik Puraskar Yojana scholarship, which will be given by Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore.

Six leopards caught in two districts of Gujarat

PTI | 10:04 PM,Apr 22,2012 Vadodara, Apr 22 (PTI) Atleast six leopards have been caught from two districts of Junagadh and Amreli in Gujarat in the last two days after an increase in the instances of attack by the big cats on humans, a top forest officer said today. "Three leopards were caught from Inaj village this morning while another was caged at Kadambri village at Dhari area in Amreli district. The forest department has put up five cages around Inaj and surrounding villages to trap the wild cats creating panic in the area," District Conservator of Forest Aradhana Sahu told PTI from Junagadh. The cages were set in the wake of an attack by a leopard on eight-year-old Asmita Bharad and mauling another in Inaj village of Veraval taluka a few days back, Sahu said. Following this attack, which was third in the last two months, we decided to set up five cages around Inaj village and succeeded in catching three big cats early morning, Sahu said. In two related incidents, one-year-old Sapna Damor of Madhya Pradesh was killed by a leopard in sugarcane field in Junagadh district, while in another incident, a big cat dragged 12-year-old Nirmla Puwar from Ghantiya village of Sutrapada taluka of Junagadh district and later killed her. Sharma further said "a leopard who had killed a 60-years-old woman in Kadambri village two days back has been caught this morning". She also informed that the forest officials also managed to trap a male lion from Nageshwari village under the Gir range today. The lion and a lioness had hunted down a youth two days back. The sugarcane fields in which the migrant labourers and their family members stay have turned into the leopards' habitat as they stray there.

Law minister flouts law of jungle.

AMRELI: Gujarat law minister takes pride in breaking the law, clicks himself in the act and merrily uploads the pictures on social networking sites. He's unabashed about it and flaunts the rising number of hits his photoshoots are getting on Facebook. So what's the minister up to?

Law minister Dileep Sanghani violated forest rules by stepping out of his vehicle at Gir National Park and organizing a photo-shoot with Asiatic lions. And instead of coughing up a fine, the minister is covering himself in glory.

Sanghani, who is also minister for agriculture and cooperation, had visited the sanctuary in October last year. The pictures, which show the minister striking various poses near the wild cats, were uploaded in March and were 'liked' by over 330 people on Facebook.

Speaking to TOI, Sanghani said, "Earlier, there was an issue of lions getting disturbed. Now, camera technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. We can take photographs without annoying the animals at the sanctuary. I have grown up with lions and there are regular sightings at my farm near Savarkundla."

Senior forest officials concede they are having a tough time controlling crowds at Gir after the launch of Amitabh Bachchan's campaign - Khushboo Gujarat ki. Now, political leaders and senior officers are flocking to the sanctuary. "Everybody wants to get close to the lions. Sometimes our hands are tied when VIPs visit the sanctuary," a top forest official said.

Under section 38J of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, those teasing wild animals, throwing plastic in the sanctuary or stepping down from vehicles are fined. The penalty varies with the nature of violations.

"Rules cannot be relaxed for politicians or VIPs. Tourists have been barred from getting down from their vehicles to protect lions," said Revtubha Rayjada, a wildlife activist and former member of wildlife advisory board, Gujarat.

Gujarat, MP fight for Asiatic lions’ share.

Source: DNA   |   Last Updated 03:59(01/05/12)
Ahmedabad: As the countdown draws closer, the battle seems to be getting fiercer. Sharp claws of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh Governments have come out scratching each other as they fight over the custody of the last breed of Asiatic lions.
On Monday, during the hearing in the Supreme Court for the relocation of lions to the Palpur Kuno Sanctuary, the Madhya Pradesh Government held back no punches in stating that Gujarat's claims over the former's inability to handle lions was totally misplaced as it finished its arguments in the case.
Sources claimed the environment in the court got rather acidic with MP's lawyer aggressively shredding each of Gujarat's allegations about poaching, absence of prey base and forest officials' 'inability' to conserve the lions as totally baseless. "The MP officials appeared hurt by Gujarat's allegations," he said.
Representing the petitioner, lawyer Raj Panjwani said MP is taking a strong stand and not a soft approach. "Gujarat has claimed officials in MP are incapable of taking care of lions. It was a heated argument on Monday," he said. The next hearing is scheduled for the coming Monday. The final judgment is expected in about three months, after the court returns from vacation.
Environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta said, "It was asserted to the court that there is enough prey base in Palpur Kuno to relocated the lions. Moreover, MP officials are taking good care of the tigers and the state has the highest population of the tigers in India. And, lions were poached in Gujarat too."
Though both are BJP-ruled states, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh Governments are stuck in a bitter battle over this issue. According to lion conservation experts, it is important to isolate some Asiatic lions to preserve their gene diversity. Accordingly, MP Government readied Palpur Kuno sanctuary to accommodate about a pride of lions to begin with. But when it was actually time to start the process of relocation, Gujarat refused to part with the lions. After the refusal of Gujarat Government, an environmentalist sought the intervention of Supreme Court.
After the case dragged on for some years, the apex court has now decided to hear it every Monday to arrive at a speedy decision. Meanwhile, the lion population in the Gir Sanctuary has jumped to 411 in 2011 from 359 in 2005.
The turning point came in the month of February this year when the bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and CK Prasad had remarked that the lions are not the 'property' of any state but belong to the nation.
The lion population in the Gir Sanctuary has jumped to 411 in 2011 from 359 in 2005.