Thursday, June 28, 2012

Man eater leopard caged in Dudhala.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Jun 26, 2012, 06.40PM IST
AHMEDABAD: The forest department finally caged a man eater leopard who had created terror in the Dudhalal area after he killed a mentally unstable person who was sleeping along the road side.
Forest officials said that before a couple of days Haku Koli (42) was sleeping along the road side when he was attacked by the leopard. The leopard dragged him about 150 meters and took him in the nearby field where the animal killed Haku.
After this incident, the forest department was keeping a watch on the movement of the leopard and finally it decided to trap the leopard and bring it to the rescue centre. Since the leopard was spotted mainly in the field of Kantibhai, two cages with live bait were laid in the field.
On Monday night the leopard came close to the cage but left again in the wee hours, the leopard came close to the cage and entered one of the two cages. As soon as it entered it was trapped.
The man eater animal will now be kept in the rescue centre in Gir east where it would be treated and if every thing goes off smoothly the big cat would again be released in the wild, said a forest officer.

Leopard kills man in Amreli village.

TNN Jun 25, 2012, 04.24AM IST
RAJKOT: A leopard attacked and killed a 40-year-old man, who was sleeping on the outskirts of Dudhala village in Dhari taluka of Amreli district late on Saturday night.
According to forest officials, the deceased was identified as Hakabhai, a mentally challenged person. "Locals said that Hakabhai used to roam around in Dudhala and Jira villages and lived a vagabond life. He used to sleep anywhere in the village. His body was found on the outskirts of the village,'' said a senior forest official.
According to Anshuman Sharma, deputy conservator of forests (Gir East), Dhari division, the incident may have occurred after 10 pm on Saturday as locals told them that they had seen the victim at this time in the village.
"He used to stay anywhere and people gave him food. He was mentally challenged,'' Sharma said.
Forest officials said that sign of Leopard was found from deceased's body. "It is likely that the leopard attacked Haka while he was asleep,'' said forest official.
According to officials, leopards have killed at least 10 people in the last six months in Amreli and Junagadh districts.
Meanwhile, a one month-old baby was killed by a dog in Kesariya village in Una taluka of Junagadh district. The incident came into light on Sunday morning when the baby's family members did not find her in the house. Her body was found from nearby area.
"Earlier, we thought that it might be a leopard that killed the baby. But, our rescue team and trackers did not find any sign of leopard in the area where this incident occurred. Locals have never spotted any leopard in this area. In fact, we found some evidence suggesting that a dog dragged the baby and killed her,'' said Sharma.
Forest officials said that deceased' family members were staying in a makeshift huts and sell bangles in the villages.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jungle king turns cash-cow.

June 23--Hundreds of tourists flocking to Gujarat earlier this week gnashed their teeth in anger when they realised that the famed Gir wildlife sanctuary near Junagadh, the only home of the rare Asiatic lions, had just closed its gates for holidayers for four months for the long breeding season of the wild animals.
But forest department officials are all smiles even after the dense forest stopped coining ticket money from June 16. Well, the 411 lovable but ferocious felines that draw day-trippers from all over the world to Gujarat have this year helped the cash-strapped Narendra Modi government to rake in the moolah. As many as 420,000 people with an adventurous streak, including 11,000 foreigners, visited the leafy park between April 2011 and May 2012, not to mention countless other bravehearts who thronged the sprawling woodland in the last fortnight before the vacation for a close encounter with the jungle king in natural surroundings.
With each visitor willingly shelling out a fee of Rs110, the forest department for the first time in years collected a whopping Rs40 million -- four times its earnings during 2010-11.
No wonder, governments of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been making desperate attempts to acquire a few of Gir's endangered lions to boost tourism but, of course, in the name of conservation.
Spread over 1412km, the sole remaining habitat boasting seven rivulets has 258km for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1,154km for the sanctuary.
About 250 watering points are presently available for lions, leopards, spotted deer, sambar, nilgai, chinkara, antelope, and wild boar. Gir also harbours around 1,100 species of birds and 26 species of reptiles. In a bid to swell the forest department kitty, plans are now afoot to increase the number of tourist permits from 90 to 250 when the sanctuary re-opens on October 16.
On their part, animal lovers from Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Amreli and other places have joined hands to stop illegal lion shows being organised regularly for the rich and famous in the revenue areas outside the Gir sanctuary.
Apart from distributing pamphlets to create awareness about such 'unethical and cruel' programmes held regularly in Lathi area, the do-gooders will hold meetings with gram panchayats (village councils) and get an assurance from the sarpanches (chieftains) that they would not allow any outsider to enter their village for lion shows. They will also create their own network to get information about those organising such shows, and meet once in a month to review the situation. But shockingly, Gujarat's forest department has not stirred a finger to book people who harass the wild cats.
The reason? The officials feel that if they take legal action, they could lose the sympathy of locals who are instrumental in the state government's successful conservation efforts. The result is that instances of lions attacking their tormentors are not uncommon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vulture population declining rapidly in Ahemdabad.


Source: Smitha R, DNA   |   Last Updated 06:10(20/06/12)
Ahmedabad: Often called as the ‘safai kamdars’ of nature — vultures seem to be declining as far as Ahmedabad district is concerned.
A 2012 vulture census carried out by the forest department and the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) foundation has found a 54% drop in the vulture population in the district. The 2012 census recorded 121 vultures in the district against the 224 recorded in the last census in 2010.
Those in the know of the trend said the drop could also be because of migration.
Sources in the department said the species that were found included white-rumped vulture, Egyptian vulture and Cinereous vulture. White-rumped vultures, 67, were most commonly found in Ahmedabad city and Daskroi.
Viramgam recorded 50 vultures, some of the Egyptian variety while 4 were found in Detroj. The four found in Detroj were Cinereous vultures.
Department sources said Cinereous vultures are rare although not uncommon and are also referred to as Jatayu. Apart from these areas, the vultures were not sighted in any other parts of the district.
“Most of the sightings in the city happened in and around IIM campus, cantonment area, and Panjrapol,” said the source.
On the decreasing numbers, those associated with the survey said the main culprit remains kite flying, as far as Ahmedabad city is concerned, and the banned drug Diclofenac, as far as rest of the district is concerned. Diclofenac is a drug used to treat pain in both animals and humans.
“Some of the drop in population in Ahmedabad district is also because of migration. We had found congregations not found hitherto in areas in Mehsana and Kheda as well, which points out to migration,” said Kartik Shastri, assistant co-ordinator, vulture cell, Bird Conservation Society Gujarat (BCSG).
Wildlife biologist Aditya Roy said though the use of Diclofenac is banned as a veterinary drug, it continues to be used for humans. “This leads to its availability and continued use despite a ban. Efforts are now on to get the drug banned even for human use,” he said.
Shastri added that since the last census in 2010, around 40 vultures were found injured, due to manja injury and Diclofenac as well, by various NGOs in the city.
Vulture population in A’bad in recent years
2005 - 254
2007 - 279
2010 - 224
2012 - 121

Lioness found dead in farm.

RAJKOT: A lioness, believed to be around two years old, was found dead in mysterious circumstances near Raydi-Pati village in Khambha taluka of Amreli district on Tuesday morning. Senior forest officials reached the spot after they were told about the incident.
"The dead lioness was found in a farm. The cause of the death is yet to be ascertained. Primary investigation shows there were no external injuries found on lioness. We have called in forensic team from Junagadh to investigate the death," deputy conservator of forests, Gir east division, Dhari, Anshuman Sharma said.
Sharma added that they have also found carcass of a prey from the spot where the lioness was found.
"Only the forensic report can throw light on the exact cause of death," Sharma said. Forest officials have also taken the sample from the carcass.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gir National Park to remain closed for tourists in monsoons.

PTI Jun 16, 2012, 07.12PM IST
VADODARA: Gir National Park, the only home to Asiatic lions, will remain closed for tourists in monsoons on account of the breeding season of the wild cats.
The sanctuary in Junagadh district would remain closed for the breeding season, from today onwards for four months, said Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forest Wildlife division at Sasan.

Also, this is the best mating season for leopards and peacocks and the period is crucial for conservation of the endangered animals, he said.
"Since we supervise the conservation efforts, we want to prevent any disturbance in the conservation activities, which could be caused by tourists. So we close the sanctuary," he said.
Kumar said that the Park is also a natural habitat for sambar, spotted deer, blue bull, black buck, wild boar, jackal, hyena, langurs, porcupine, bear,crocodiles and over 250 species of birds.
Another reason behind the closure is that the forest staff have to monitor the movement of wild animals during rains and in case of heavy rains in the area, they have to chalk out a rescue plan and shift them to safer places, he said.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Department keen to complete lions’ pride.

LUCKNOW: The proposed lion safari, which is coming up in Etawah, the native place of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav may not be another Gir. However, it will certainly give glimpses into the behaviour of lions, the most social of all big cats, and the population will be zoo-bred.

Dispelling doubts that the safari will be comparable to the Gir forest where population comprises wild lions, PCCF (Wildlife) Rupak De, said, "Safari is an extended zoo." The department is in consultation with some of the zoos to bring in lions to Etawah, which will not only have a safari, but also a lion breeding centre. Forest officials say that the zoos of Hyderabad and Rajkot have also responded positively, so far.

The ambitious lion safari project was conceived in 2005-06 by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government. But, Mayawati, after coming back to power in 2007, had put the project in the cold storage. The project, however, was revived as quickly after SP swept the power this time.

Nearly 150 hectares of land in Fisher Forest on Etawah-Gwalior national highway, close to the Chambal Sanctuary, was acquired and notified as lion safari in 2005. But, work never progressed due to BSP being in power. Though safari might still take time to assume shape, officers said they can bring in the lions and keep them at zoos in Lucknow and Kanpur.

The department plans to bring, initially, two male and 5 to 6 females, which is the size of a Lion pride, mostly comprising five to six related females, their cubs, and two males who mate with the females. The safari might not have wild lions, but department is keen on bringing Asiatic Lions of pure genetic bloodline. African and Asiatic Lions are the two surviving species of the animal.

Considering that lions are extremely social, to the extent that cubs born to same mother do not mate, and even those born to different mothers but brought up together choose mating partners other than each other, safari will have to be provided with lions, born outside it, from time to time.

"Setting up a breeding centre, in such a case, is sustainable," said BS Munal, member secretary, Central Zoo Authority. The lion safari has got the clearance from both the CZA and the Supreme Court. "Since we have to re-visit all the aspects of the project, after so many years, hence there is a delay," said the PCCF (wildlife).

Neighbour's Pride is Owner's Envy.

Gujarat opposes plan for a second home for Asiatic lions at Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
Gujarat opposes plan for a second home for Asiatic lions at Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.A proposed second home for Asiatic lions has pitted the BJP-led state governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh against each other. Gujarat, whose Gir sanctuary is the only abode for Asiatic lions, is upset with the plan to shift some of the big cats to the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, as decided in the late 1990s by the Union government on the advice of the Wildlife Institute of India.
The issue came up for hearing in Supreme Court on May 1 on a petition by Biodiversity Conservation Trust, a wildlife NGO. The Madhya Pradesh government bluntly told the court that Gujarat's allegations that Madhya Pradesh forest officials were incapable of handling the lions and that there was poaching in the area and not enough prey base for the lions were baseless. The debate further escalated when the Madhya Pradesh state tourism department posted on its website that "Kuno has been selected as an alternative home for the endangered Asiatic lion, which is now confined only to the Gir National Park and Sanctuary of Gujarat".
Gujarat claims it has done enough to protect the lions and that a second home for them is unnecessary. Not only has the number of Gir lions gone up to 411, the state government has also added 400 sq km in grasslands and forests to the 1,400-sq-km sanctuary as part of its concept of Greater Gir. Gujarat forest officials also say the poachers who operate in Gir come from Katni in Madhya Pradesh, not very far from Kuno-Palpur, which means the proposed second home is no safer for the lions. "There is absolutely no need for shifting the lions out of Gujarat. The endangered species is more secure here than anywhere else," says Pradeep Khanna, Gujarat's principal chief conservator of forests. Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Sartaj Singh counters: "It is wrong to say lions won't be safe in Kuno-Palpur when Madhya Pradesh has done a good job of managing other national parks in the state which have tigers. Gujarat should understand that it is for the future benefit of the species that a second home is necessary." Another Gujarat forest official reminds that the Wildlife Institute of India's recommendation to shift lions to Kuno-Palpur was itself a political decision as it was dominated at that time by officials from Madhya Pradesh. He adds that the second home strategy is flawed as Kuno-Palpur is just 344 sq km in area and the recommendation is for shifting only six lions.
Eminent wildlife experts such as AJT Johnsingh, however, believe that a second home for the Asiatic lion besides Gir is necessary. 'No one can deny Gujarat's efforts to protect lions. But nature knows no barriers. In 1994, one-fourth of the 4,000 lions at the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania were wiped out by a dog-borne epidemic. Serengeti is spread over 30,000 sq km-several times the Greater Gir area, and yet the tragedy struck. A second home for the Asiatic lion is a sensible thing to do,' he says.
The Madhya Pradesh government has added another 700 sq km to Kuno-Palpur so that more lions can be accommodated when the relocation begins. But with Gujarat in an election year and 'pride' literally at stake, the relocation plan may have to wait.

Friday, June 8, 2012

How lion king got nawabi reprieve.

TNN Jun 6, 2012, 01.13AM IST
AHMEDABAD: The Nawabs of Junagadh were trying desperately to save lions that were already dwindling in number. Had it been not been a diktat from the Viceroy of India - George Curzon, it would have been difficult for the local rulers to ward off requests from other royals to hunt big cats.
In 1900, Nawab Rasulkhanji of Junagadh invited the viceroy for lion hunting, a minimal gesture of courtesy a state had to show to their British masters. However, the day Curzon received invitation; he was apprised of a letter published in a leading Bombay daily by a prominent citizen.
AM Mosse recorded the incident in his 'The Lion of the Gir' that was published in Journal of Bombay Natural History Society. He mentioned that the letter was published titled as 'Viceroy or Vandal' criticizing Curzon's acceptance of invite in wake of reducing lion population, which were estimated at just 12 then. This prompted Curzon to cancel his hunting excursion.
"In the event, Curzon did not go to the Gir, he returned from Junagadh and urged the Nawab to give these animals strict protection," writes Divyabhanusinh in his 'Junagadh State and its Lions: Conservation in Princely India'.
Though he was against hunting of big cats, Curzon's abstaining from shooting forced the Nawab to express his disappointment. On November 27, 1900, he wrote to the viceroy, "I cannot but observe here that I fully appreciated and admired your noble consideration in abandoning the lion shooting. Your Excellency's giving up the idea has greatly disappointed me... I propose however to approach your Excellency later on with the request to favour me with a shooting excursion in the Gir before your Excellency's departure from India."
However, Curzon hoped that his example of restraint would be followed. He wrote to the Burma Game Preservation Association in 1902 how he was "on the verge of contributing to their (lions) still further reduction ... but fortunately I found out my mistake in time, and was able to adopt a restraint which I hope that others will follow".
Many British officials did not follow him, but Curzon's advice was a great excuse for local rulers and British administration to turn down lion hunting requests from other princely states. But some those who were not allowed to hunt down lions later were Kumar Shri Vijayrajji of Kutch, Maharaja Jam Saheb Ranjitsinhji of Navanagar, Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner and the Raja of Poonch from J&K.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NTCA to get strict with state forest departments.

LUCKNOW: Any tiger death reported from any part of the country will prima-facie be taken as poaching. The latest guidelines issued from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to all the chief wildlife wardens of state forest departments is an effort to make the state governments more accountable.
The states were reporting most of the tiger deaths as "natural", so far, thus, washing their hands off of any further investigation. "Poaching calls for more seriousness and accountability on the part of the states," said SP Yadav, joint director, NTCA, New Delhi. After the latest guidelines, "the onus will be on the field directors to prove otherwise," said the official.
In case, forest officers fail to prove otherwise, it will be recorded as a case of poaching.The guidelines say, even an intact carcass of tiger or a leopard will be taken as a case of poaching. "Poachers poison tigers when they want an intact tiger skin," said the official.
Though census figures show the population of tigers rising all over the country, what cannot be denied is the fact that tigers are highly threatened. Since January 2012, country has lost 36 tigers. Out of which, 16 tiger deaths were reported by way of poaching and seizures, and, for 20 other tiger deaths, cause was not know.
UP reported five tiger deaths. A tiger skin was recovered from Najibabad in Bijnore on February 9 and another tiger was found dead in Amangarh in Bijnore on March 7, the cause of the death was not know for this.
Meanwhile, two tigers were reported dead in Haripur range of Pilibhit on Friday, a decomposed carcass of tiger was found in Kishenpur sanctuary on Sunday. NTCA, however, wants to accord "utmost seriousness" to tiger and leopard deaths in the country.
If a tiger death is classified as occurring due to natural causes, this should be substantiated by adequate field evidence and factual details while reporting to the central authority.
Tiger source areas are targeted by poachers and tigers also become victims of non-targeted killings due to man-tiger conflicts. There is need to ensure adequate caution while classifying tiger deaths due to "natural" causes, says NTCA.
The area from where tiger death has been reported has to be thoroughly combed to ensure that there are no metal traps or snares at the site. Evidence related to unauthorized vehicular movement, use of fire arms, poisoning near water points, natural salt licks and poisoning of livestock kills made by tiger or leopard needs to be investigated.

Every tiger, leopard death will be presumed poaching: National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN May 31, 2012, 01.59AM IST

NAGPUR: National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided that henceforth every case of tiger and leopard death will be treated as poaching incident unless proved to be natural death. The latest directive by Rajesh Gopal, member-secretary of NTCA, follows after a recent spurt in tiger poaching cases, specially in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. The NTCA move is seen as an effort to make the states take every tiger death seriously and follow the protocol to ascertain the exact cause of death.
In the six months since November 3, 2011, the state has lost 10 tigers, most of them to poaching. Several tigers have died under mysterious circumstances. "Maharashtra has been very casual in submitting reports about the deaths. Whenever a tiger dies, we just receive an SMS and that's all. In all 10 tiger deaths, detailed reports including forensic report establishing cause of death have still not been submitted to us," NTCA officials told TOI. SWH Naqvi, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Maharashtra, responded, "It is possible that detailed reports have not been sent. I will check-up. We will do what is necessary."

"To ensure proper due diligence and topmost priority, every case of tiger and leopard death will be henceforth treated as a case of poaching, unless otherwise proved beyond reasonable doubt," Gopal's letter said. The letter written to all the chief wildlife wardens of states stated that if a tiger death was classified as occurring due to natural causes, the same should be substantiated by adequate supporting field evidences and factual details, while reporting to NTCA.
Any incident of tiger death requires detailed field investigation vis-a-vis the advisories issued in this context from the authority. While natural mortality owing to density related stress and other causes do occur in a tiger habitat, there is a need to establish this based on categorical evidences.
"There is a need to ensure adequate caution while classifying tiger deaths as occurring due to 'natural' cases," Gopal said. The NTCA has said the area where tiger death is reported should be thoroughly scanned to rule out metal trap and snares and evidence of unauthorized vehicular movement, use of fire arms, poisoning near water points, natural salt licks and poisoning of livestock kills by tigers and leopards.
Besides, any history of recurring livestock depredation, human death and injury due to carnivores in the area should also be taken into account along with pendency, if any, relating to payment of compensation and ex-gratia in this regard. It has directed that the day-to-day patrolling by field staff and supervisory checks at senior level should ensure preventive actions as well as proactive detection, rather than retroactive actions.
This would also facilitate retrieval of carcasses before their putrefaction, thereby facilitating, forensic examination in a laboratory.
Two panels to protect big cats
The NTCA has constituted two committees for tiger conservation. One panel is for district planning in tiger range while another for appraisal of centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) in 40 tiger reserves.
The committee for tiger range districts includes V B Mathur, dean, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, M Firoz Ahmed, member, NTCA, Dr Biswajit Banerjee from Planning Commission, A K Shrivastava, director of ministry of tribal affairs, R Sundaraju and B K Patnaik, retired chief wildlife warden of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh respectively, S Dhena and Thilagarajan U, both social workers, and S P Yadav, DIG of NTCA.
NTCA sources said the team would suggest a process for factoring in tiger concerns in the district planning in tiger range districts. It will come out with generic prescriptions vis-a-vis the 2010 country level tiger estimation for district plan for mainstreaming tiger conservation in each district. "Four regional sensitization workshops for stakeholders and line departments will be organized. The panel will submit its report in six months," sources said.
NTCA, which releases big sums of money for tiger conservation, has also constituted five appraisal teams for the CSS. The tiger reserves have been classified into five landscape complex. Of these, the Central Indian landscape (Tadoba, Pench, Melghat, Ranthambore, Sariska) will include ex-PCCF DNS Suman, NTCA member Prakash Amte, social worker D Krishnamurthy and AIG Sanjay Kumar. The team will verify whether the CSS money is being used properly and suggest improvements.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lion dies of pneumonia in Gir forest... Dethroned king given regal send-off.

AHMEDABAD: It is a law of the nature that the loser in any turf-war has to quit the lost territory. In Sasan though, foresters noticed an exception to the rule. Two new kings, who now lord over a huge portion of Gir sanctuary in the tourism zone, watched over the old king till he breathed his last on Saturday evening.
The two brothers who have established their supremacy over the biggest pride of the Gir forest, instead of pushing the old lion out, stayed close to the old lion till he died.
The old king died of pneumonia in Dedakadi range of Gir forest. "A male Asiatic lion aged around 12 years died last evening in Kherambha forest of Gir (west) division," Dr Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) wildlife division Sasan-Gir said.
Lion's carcass was brought to the wildlife care center in Sasan on Sunday morning for postmortem.
For over a fortnight, the forest officials were constantly keeping a watch on the activity of the lion as five invaders, including two lion brothers, were aiming to capture a swath of territory in Kherambha round. The king of the area was being forced to spend all his diminishing energies to protect his kingdom.
The lion, who died on Saturday evening, ruled a pride comprising of 32 members - one of the biggest in the Gir sanctuary.
Forest officials said that because the battles were being fought in the tourism zone, they were keeping a close watch on the conflict. The area also had a large number of newborn cubs and in the fight to annex territory, invaders could attack the cubs, so a constant watch was required.
On Tuesday, senior forest officials including additional principal chief conservator of forest H S Singh, conservator of forest R Meena, were among those present in the sanctuary keeping a watch.
An official said that five lions had invaded the area. Of these, two brothers captured the territory, but instead of throwing the loser out, it was noticed that the new rulers were staying close to him.
On Tuesday, since morning, the two guarded the old lion and took up vigil about 50 metres on either side of him. They did not move away from the area till foresters took away the body for postmortem.