Thursday, November 29, 2012

Paignton Zoo's rare Asiatic lion cubs celebrate half-birthday.

Monday, November 26, 2012
FOUR rare Asiatic lion cubs born at Paignton Zoo are celebrating being six months old.
One of those with the responsibility for their first months is senior keeper of mammals Lucy Manning.
  1. RARE:   The lion cubs and Indu at Paignton Zoo
    RARE: The lion cubs and Indu at Paignton Zoo
Lucy (pictured) has been at Paignton Zoo for eights years and the team she leads also looks after Sumatran tigers, mandrills, black rhinos, cheetah, maned wolves and, the least dangerous species in their care, coati.
Lucy said: "I particularly like the diversity of species on our section. All our animals have distinct personalities.
"No matter what else is going on in your life, they always have a way of making you smile and lifting your spirits.
The Asiatic lion is a species on the edge of extinction. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the wild population is about 350 animals, with just 175 of them mature adults.
Poaching incidents in the Gir Forest, in India, are on the increase.
Meanwhile, there are about 100 Asiatic lions in European zoos and another 300 worldwide.
Paignton Zoo supports the international conservation efforts by being part of the European Endangered species Programme, or EEP, for the species.
In 2011, three males and six females were born in the EEP, while 19 cubs were reared in 2010.
So the four cubs at Paignton Zoo are a real boost to the efforts to save the species.
Lucy: "Young animals are all cute and the lion cubs are awesome — it's fantastic to see them doing so well.
"It's very tempting to want to be more hands on, but Indu is doing great on her own and that is how it should be. Lions should behave like lions and not be petted and humanised."
Looking after the lions usually involves cleaning the outside paddock first thing in the morning and then getting the animals outside so that the keepers can clean the dens.
"In the evening the animals come in to be fed and are shut in safely overnight.
She added: "Indu is usually friendly and likes the company of keepers. She was less keen when she first had the cubs and wouldn't let us near her or even look in the dens. She is more relaxed now — she lets the cubs come up to us at the fence.
"The cubs are well aware that we provide the meat and are very keen to come over and see if we are going to feed them. So long as mum is close by they are very confident.
"Mwamba doesn't like Indu being near us and will tell her off if he sees us together — he will come to us to take food but mostly stays well away or jumps at the fence to shout at us."
She said it was quite scary working with big cats at first, adding: "When you start it can be quite scary, but as you get used to them you find you can predict what they are going to do, so you don't get a shock when they jump up.
"You never get complacent — you follow the protocols with locks and slides. I check it's safe 20 times before I go out into the paddock."

Religious fervour grips Mount Girnar, lakhs join Lili Parikrama.

TNN Nov 26, 2012, 03.31AM IST
RAJKOT: More than eight lakh devotees thronged Mount Girnar in Junagadh for the annual 'Lili Parikrama', which began on Saturday night.
At least four lakh have already completed the 36-km-long 'Parikrama' around Mount Girnar, sources said, adding that one devotee, however, died of cardiac arrest while undertaking the pilgrimage. He has been identified as Chandu Parkhiya, 60, a resident of Gondal in Rajkot district.
Water is a major issue for Junagadh district administration this time around. The surroundings around Mount Girnar in the previous years had turned lush green after the monsoon. However, this is not the case this time.
"Water scarcity is there. However, this has not stopped the devotees from taking part in the annual 'Lili Parikrama'. Lakhs of people have reached Mount Girnar from across the state. The district administration has made arrangements to ensure that there is adequate water for those taking part in the 'Parikrama','' said Pravin Savaj, a volunteer.
About 30 special water supply points have been set up on the 'Parikrama' route to meet the drinking water requirement of the devotees, who are walking the 36-km stretch. At least 40 'anakshetras' (free food zones) have been set up by the voluntary organizations. The 'Parikrama' route begins from Girnar Taleti. The participants will walk through Jinabava Madhi, Sarkadiya, Malvela and Bordevi before returning to the starting point on the fifth day. Police have made tight security arrangements for the 'Parikrama.'

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lili Parikrama to be held under shadow of water scarcity.

RAJKOT: This year the annual Lili Parikrama of Mount Girnar will be held under the shadow of water scarcity. Unlike previous years, when the Girnar mountain turns lush green at the time of the parikrama after the monsoon, water is a major issue being tackled by Junagadh district administration this time around.
Officials said that 30 special water supply points have been set up on the parikrama route to meet the drinking requirements of the devotees, who will be walking the 36-km stretch. While the parikrama is formally scheduled to begin on November 24, almost 20,000 devotees have already undertaken the religious journey. "Earlier, we used to set up only 17 water supply points but this year we have increased their number. All the necessary arrangements have been made by the district collectorate, police, forest department, health and water supplies department and other voluntary organizations to ensure smooth conduct of the five-day event," said an official.
Many voluntary organizations have also come forward to ensure an uninterrupted food supply at regular intervals and have started annakshetra (free food) services. Every year around 10 lakh people from various parts of the state and the neighbourhood undertake the parikrama. This time, it will start on Saturday from Girnar Taleti and the participants will walk through Jinabava Madhi, Sarkadiya, Malvela and Bordevi before returning to the starting point on the fifth day.
Police officials said that CCTV cameras have been installed on the route as a security measure. Junagadh Municipal Corporation will be installing street lights and ensure cleanliness on the parikrama route. The state transport department has decided to run an additional 150 busesfrom various parts to Junagadh.

One with Nature.

S. Mohammed Ali, founder of Natural History Trust in Mettupalayam, Pollachi and Tirupur works for the cause of environment conservation. Photos: S.Siva Saravanan

  • K. JESHI
    The Hindu S. Mohammed Ali, founder of Natural History Trust in Mettupalayam, Pollachi and Tirupur works for the cause of environment conservation. Photos: S.Siva Saravanan
  • Kaattuir, a montly magazine edited by S. Mohammed Ali, founder of Natural History Trust in Mettupalayam
    The Hindu Kaattuir, a montly magazine edited by S. Mohammed Ali, founder of Natural History Trust in Mettupalayam
  • S. Mohammed Ali, founder and president of Natural History Trust has authored eight books on wildlife and nature.
    The Hindu S. Mohammed Ali, founder and president of Natural History Trust has authored eight books on wildlife and nature.
  • A collection of book on wildlife authored by S. Mohammed Ali, founder of Natural History Trust in Mettupalayam
    The Hindu A collection of book on wildlife authored by S. Mohammed Ali, founder of Natural History Trust in Mettupalayam
S. Mohammed Ali, founder of Natural History Trust, author of eight Tamil books on wildlife, and editor of Kattuir magazine, tells K. JESHI that understanding Nature, and wildlife is the first step towards conservation
Recently, at a classroom in Gobichettipalayam, S. Mohammed Ali, founder and president of Natural History Trust, let out a water snake from his bag, much to the alarm of students. Worse, the snake bit him, and blood started oozing, but he continued talking. “The students ran out when they saw the snake moving,” he laughs. “I demonstrated it to take their fear away and to tell them that water snakes are non-poisonous. Out of 250 species of snakes in India, only four are venomous,” he mentions.
At his home in Mettupalayam, over endless cups of chaai and some tasty home-made biscuits served by his wife, it is enriching to listen to Mohammed Ali. He quit his job with the postal department in 1980s and turned a full-time conservationist from then on. “Mettupalayam, the place I live is surrounded by forests and wildlife. And, I started exploring,” he smiles.
Initially, Mohammed Ali, along with nature lovers Dr. Vasanth Alva from Pollachi and Dr. K.Yoganand from Mettupalayam, formed Wildlife Lovers Association, which later became Natural History Trust (NHT). “Science is taught in schools always with an eye on marks. There is no connect with every day life. Many students define Nature from what they read in their text books. We took the students outdoors.”
They approached government-run schools and colleges with slide-shows on wildlife. Later, they took the students into the forests in the Nilgiris and Mettupalayam. Sitting on boulders inside the forests, with butterflies and dragonflies fluttering around, students got lessons in Nature. NHS started with 100 students in Mettupalayam and now covers over 100 schools across Pollachi, Tirupur, and Erode.
Scorpion in a match box
Once, he brought a skink (aranai or long lizard) to a classroom. At another time, it was a scorpion, which he carried in a match box. “I let the scorpion climb on my hand to indicate that it stings only when it senses trouble when your hand moves. Black scorpions, considered the most poisonous, never initiate the attack. I share such information with students,” he says.
He has plenty to say about lizards. “They are harmless. In our own backyard, we have the bark gecko (marapalli), house gecko (house lizard) and blue-tailed skinks. The garden lizard (veli onaan) is an insectivore and keeps the garden clean. Such lizards, including udumbu (monitor lizard), and snakes, are vital to a garden’s ecosystem. They keep the pests out, including the mosquitoes. But we spray chemicals and chase them away,” he says. Superstitions are a deterrent too. “When an Indian Pipistrelle (fruit bat) enters homes, it is considered a bad omen. But, the truth is that it keeps the garden and house free of small pests.”
NHT camps with school children have been highly successful. But they lack support from the government. “There is no funding. We invest our money and run it. We have 20 active members, totally dedicated to the cause. In Tamil Nadu, we have about 500 members now.”
Mohammed Ali, who has just completed a two-day awareness camp for SHGs in Trichy, says it is easier to convey the message to those at the grassroots. “We talk at clubs, meet parents, NGOs, LIC agents and tell them to cut down on water usage, use less oil on their hair, less shampoo…everything helps in environment conservation.” He then adds with a straight face, “Instead of long tresses women should opt for shorter haircuts.”
The conservationist is irked by exaggerated accounts of wildlife. “Encounters in the wild are normal,” he says and shares an incident at Gir National Park. “Our group spotted a male lion 60 ft away from the car. After we took 10 steps forward, the lion woke up. Then, it gave a warning roar and stayed right there for 30 minutes. A simple experience like this is turned into a dramatic account.”
He gives another example. “At Thengumarhada, we camped in the forest to identify a tiger which was feared to be a man-eater. As it turned out, the tiger was in pain as a porcupine spine had pierced its foot. That was the reason it was growling. And a writer would probably describe this incident and title it ‘Killer on the prowl!’”. The misrepresentation extends to elephants and bears too, says Mohammed Ali. Elephants are the most misunderstood mammals, he says regretfully. “It never stamps a living being as often reported. It just chases you out of its way, and maybe attacks with its tusk. Man-bear encounters are described as karadiyudun thotta vaaliban katti purandu sandai. It is so misleading. But at our meetings we make it a point to give the real picture.”
Mohammed Ali has authored eight books on Nature. His book Iyarkaiyin Seidhigalum Sindhaiyum packs 1,500 news items, facts and figures about Nature, and has been acknowledged by some as one of the best compilations in a regional language. It is considered an as an Encyclopaedia on Nature.
One of his books is dedicated to ornithologist Salim Ali, whose life story inspires him. “I so yearned to own a gun like him in my younger days,” he recollects. “Salim Ali shot a yellow-throated sparrow, and took it to his father to identify it. His father sent him to BNHS. A European curator, opened the doors of the museum (home to 1000s of stuffed birds) to the young Salim Ali. And, he went on to become one of the greatest ornithologists ever.”
Conserve with care
Mohammed Ali has strong opinions about ‘blind conservation’, where tree plantation drives are carried out without proper research or understanding of the environment. “I visited the Savannah grasslands in South Africa. For millions of years, there have been no trees there, yet the ecosystem supports a rich bio-diversity. We go on tree planning sprees and it affects the balance of Nature. It is important to promote endemic trees such as poovarasu, vembu and teak.”
Street campaigns
NHT now conducts street awareness campaigns. Mohammed Ali cups his palm in the form an imaginary megaphone and demonstrates the cleanliness campaign they conducted at Khaderpet in Tirupur. “The area is dirty with all the spitting and betel leaf stains. We asked people there, ‘Do you spit inside your homes?’. We spoke for an hour each at three locations and no one protested, which is a good sign. We plan to address locality specific issues through such campaigns.”
Mohammed Ali quotes from Sangam literature where references are made to wildlife and nature. He mentions the poem kurunthohai thaaisaa pirakkum pulli karuvandu’ which describes the pulli karuvandu (spotted crab that carries eggs on its belly).The poet living in Sathimutram thousands of years ago has spoken about the migratory pattern (one of the first written works) of white storks from Siberia and Russia (naarai naarai sengaal naarai…thenthisai kumari aadi, vada thisai eeiguveer aayin…) “Such honest descriptions are lacking in literature now,” he rues.
He tells youngsters, “Look at the forests, they are always clean. Have you seen a spotted deer? How beautiful they look, do they apply any make-up?”
His books
Neruppu Kuzhiyil Kuruvi is a critical take on politicians, writers, conservationists, and poets.
Yaanaigal: Azhiyum Paeruyir is a handbook on elephants
Paluyiriyam is a Q&A format on bio-diversity
Paambu Enrall is a guide on snakes
Vattamidum Kazhugu
Adho Andha Paravai Pola
Rare sightings
NHT has spotted the European bee eater in Sirumugai forest (1991), Black buck (1986) and King Cobra (1988) on the marginal forest near the River Bhavani. All the sightings have been recorded with BNHS

Kamal the lion at Bristol Zoo has died.

Thursday, November 22, 2012
Bristol Zoo has announced that Kamal, their male Asiatic lion, has died.
Kamal, 18, was extremely old for a lion.
    Kamal the lion
  1. Kamal the lion
Consequently he suffered from arthritis and age-related deterioration of his vision.
Zoo vets also suspected that he may have had a tumour.
He had been receiving constant care and treatment from the keepers and zoo vet team who had been closely monitoring his condition.
However, due to the recent deterioration of his health, the decision was made for him to be put down yesterday.
Kamal was born at Helsinki Zoo, Finland, in 1994 and was hand reared by keepers. He arrived at Bristol Zoo in February 2008, where he has lived since. Kamal sired two cubs with our lioness, Shiva, in December 2010. They have since grown up and moved to other European zoos as part of a managed conservation breeding programme. Kamal was greatly loved here at the zoo and had a gentle and tolerant temperament.
Asiatic lions are critically endangered, with only approximately 300 left in the wild, living on a small reserve in the Gir Forest in western India in an area smaller than the New Forest.
Zoo staff will contact the co-ordinator of this important breeding programme to inform him of this sad event and will be making plans to receive a new lion, when the time is right, as a new mate for Shiva.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Age of Endlings.

Jay Mazoomdaar

We can only imagine the loneliness of the last of a species. But can we be immune to the consequence of the loss?
Jay Mazoomdaar
Independent Journalist
Living on the edge Few, if any, pure Asiatic wild buffalo survive in the wild
Photo: Getty Images
REMEMBER UNCAS in The Last of The Mohicans? His death marked the end of a tribe on which James Cooper developed his theme of great loss. The Mohicans were an imaginary tribe based on the Mohegans and Mahicans who still survive in two autonomous reservations of the US. But dozens of plant and animal species go extinct every day. Few are recorded, even noticed. The last of a species — the endling — is identified in still fewer cases.
Much has been written about Truganini, the last surviving Tasmanian Aboriginal, whose tribe was exterminated by the Europeans who colonised Australia at the end of the 18th century. Truganini became an endling in 1874, three years before her lonely death. Around the same time, another nameless endling passed away thousands of miles away. But if you never heard of the Quagga, it is not your fault.
Final countdown The last Tasmanian tiger in the Hobart zoo

Imagine a half-zebra with the stripes in the front fading in the middle to disappear into a plain brown coat in the rear. Once abundant in the grassland of South Africa, the Quagga was hunted to extinction for its hide and meat nearly 130 years ago. By the 1870s, the wild stock disappeared and zoo specimens became rare. The Quagga endling died at Amsterdam’s Artis Royal Zoo in 1883.
Martha the pigeon and Incas the parakeet died in the Cincinnati zoo in 1914 and 1918 respectively. Martha’s death marked the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, a species that crowded the continent in billions till the new world was discovered. Incas was the last Carolina Parakeet, North America’s only parrot species.
The Heath Hen, a majestic grouse and a variant of the Greater Prairie Chicken, was nearly extirpated due to poaching by the end of the 19th century. The endling — named Booming Ben — lived alone for four years in a small Massachusetts island called Martha’s Vineyard until a forest fire killed it in 1932.
The kangaroo had a cousin that resembled a wolf. The Tasmanian tiger, the largest marsupial (animals who keep the newborn in a pouch) carnivore of our time, was killed as a vermin and vanished from the wild by 1930. Benjamin, the endling of undermined sex, died in the Hobart zoo in 1936.
The latest in the list of known endlings was Lonesome George, a male Pinta Island tortoise. Rescued to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galápagos, the giant spent four lonely decades in captivity before dying this June. While endlings of less-evolved life forms may not feel as much, did Benjamin or George realise they hadn’t seen anything quite like them for a really long time?
Boa knew that absolute loneliness. And she sang to herself to dispel it, in a language that had no more speakers left in the Bo people, one of the 10 Great Andamanese tribes. With Boa, died her language and the tribe in 2010. A few months earlier, another ancient language of the archipelago — Khora — had died with Boa’s neighbour Boro. In line are the 50-odd remaining members of the other Great Andamanese clans and only two surviving languages.
Boa’s story was written by linguist Anvita Abbi who knew the octogenarian in her final years. The only endling I came across may not qualify as one, but she suffered the same fate. Rajasthan’s Bharatpur did not have any tiger since the last one was shot in 1962. But in 1999, a barely-adult Ranthambhore tigress wandered out, followed the course of the Gambhir river and landed up in the wetlands of Ghana.
Final countdown Booming Ben, the last heath hen; a captive Quagga female in London zoo in 1870; the last four Tasmanian Aborigines, Truganini is at the extreme right
The tigress settled down among ample prey in the grassland and, thanks to the then conservator of Bharatpur Shruti Sharma, was protected from poachers who would soon butcher the big cats of Sariska and Ranthambhore. Unusually reclusive, she was in her prime when her remains were found in the summer of 2005. For six long years, she did not have a partner or a competitor. She still sprayed to mark her territory.
Tigers continue to flourish in many pocket reserves. The Asiatic cheetah, though, went extinct in India with the last three gunned down by a maharaja one night in 1947 under the glare of his royal vehicle that blinded the animals. While experts plot to fly in the African variety, the populations of several other species — the great Indian bustard, Jerdon’s courser, gharial, hangul, Nilgiri tahr, river dolphin, dugong and numerous amphibians — have dwindled below the critical level since.
The most imminent threat of extinction, however, is facing the Asiatic wild buffalo of which a handful remain in the wild. While the official count stands at 2,900, more than 98 percent of the population is confined to the Northeast where they routinely breed with the domestic ones. The only other population is in central India where their numbers may not add up to 40. In the absence of rigorous genetic verification, there is no certainty how many of them are purebred.
The small populations in Indravati and Pamed remain unprotected as the administration has little access to the insurgency-ridden forests. Chhattisgarh’s Udanti now has eight animals after Asha, the lone, diminutive female, gave birth to a calf in 2009 in captivity. While she is encumbered again, the bulls in the wild have no option but to woo the domestic females on the outskirts of the sanctuary.
ONCE DEAD, species cannot be recovered. Theoretically, breeding back is possible by proper selection if a very closely related species is found. Since 1987, the Quagga project has been trying to recreate the species from the plains zebra, but so far it has succeeded in partially retrieving only the genes responsible for the unique stripe pattern. In India, repeated claims of cloning the extinct cheetah have remained on paper since 2000.
The wild buffalo is the ancestor of the domestic variety and its survival is the only insurance against fatal weakening of the domestic gene. The government, the court and NGOs have repeatedly committed to saving this majestic species that weighs 900-1,500 kg with horns spreading up to 2 metres. But the executing agency, the Forest Department, is not even confident about the species’ identity.
The eight wild buffaloes of Udanti are routinely referred to as bison (or gaur) by the forest staff. In Karnataka, when the government decided to set up a breeding centre for the infinitely less-endangered bison last month, top zoo and forest officials told the media that the facility was meant for wild buffaloes, a species absent in the state.
Once she became an endling, Truganini had a prophecy. “I know that when I die, the museum wants my body,” she told a priest. After her burial, Truganini’s body was exhumed and put on public display at the Tasmanian Museum during 1904-47. But having accelerated the natural extinction rate at least by a 1,000 times, we may have already run out of space in that gallery. Anyway, there will be no one to preserve the endling species of the earth.
Jay Mazoomdaar is an Independent Journalist. 

‘Nympho’ lioness turns the heat on males in Gujarat.

(Strange behaviour of a lioness…)

Vijaysinh Parmar, TNN Oct 24, 2012, 04.51AM IST
RAJKOT: Strange behaviour of a lioness has raised curiosity among wildlife activists and forest officials in Savarkundla, Amreli district of Gujarat.
The lioness, believed to be 10 years old, is seen mating with lions much more frequently, a behaviour that is far from normal. Unlike normal lioness, who do not mate for 12 to 18 months after the mating season, this lioness is seen in the act every fortnight.
According to sources — who have seen this lioness in forest near Savarkundla of Amreli district — unlike other lioness, this lioness comes into the heat regularly. In fact, eyewitnesses say they see this lioness coming into the heat every fortnight.
"Locally this lioness is called 'Varol'. There are three lions and one lioness in the area. Few months ago we first spotted the lioness mating with a lion and after few days she was again seen mating with another lion. We continued to monitor her and we were surprised that she comes into the heat regularly. This is extremely unusual,'' a wildlife activist from Savarkundla said. Forest officials confirmed the behaviour of the lioness. "This lioness is nymphomaniac," a forest official, who worked in Gir for close to eight years, said.
Wildlife experts said those lionesses who are unable to conceive after the mating show such characteristics. "In such cases, the lioness comes into heat every 14 days. There may be fertility issue, but it is a rare a case. In 2003, one lioness with such behaviour was spotted in Tulsishyam forest range in Gir east division. However, this is not a disease or any problem,'' head, conservation biology and animal ecology at Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, Dr Y V Zhala said told TOI.

Foreign nations patenting Indian plant, animal species.

The 11th World Conference of Parties —II (COP–II) was organised in Hyderabad from October 1 to 19 where 193 nations had joined. The main focus was on ecological diversities and their safety.
India is the first nation which raised voice for conservation of biological diversities in the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi convinced the world leaders on the importance of conservation of biological diversities. For the first time, the world recognised that the ecological assets should be given due attention so far as their conservation is concerned.
First, an international treaty was signed among 193 countries to protect the global biodiversities. India was also a signatory to it.
The biodiversities was given a global identification beyond national boundaries.
The conservational success of India are Asiatic lions in Gir forests of Gujarat, Gharials of Chambal valley and horned Rhinos of Kajiranga in Assam which attracted the attention of the Hyderabad conference.
These species are now given the status from critically endangered to endangered species. Thanks to the efforts of the respective State administrations, now these species are safe. There is distinct geographical distribution of plant and animal species. It depends on the habitat and climatic conditions. So protection measures ought to include the protection and conservation of habitat and its environment.
When we speak about ecological biodiversities, we always mean terrestrial ecology but the oceanic biodiversities are much wider and vaster. The conservation measure should save and explore the new world of biodiversities which are still unknown. Due to mismanagement of terrestrial as well as oceanic world, many species are on the verge of extinction. So the details of biological complex of each country should be known to every human member nation and the property right of each species should be clearly specified.
In the recently held conference, the member nations were confused over the geo-climatic origin of many species and hence the property rights over them. There was much confusion over the property rights of the nation over species like Ongole Bull, Punganur cow, Pulsa fish and Red sanders, among others. These animal and plant species belong to Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
The species occupy the Eastern Ghat and western corridors of India specially influenced by the Bay of Bengal and several hills. Ongole Bull is very famous for its delicious roast. Now Brazil claims the property rights over the species. Again Punganur cow, whose milk contains only 8 per cent fat, is claimed by the western countries. The Pulasa Fish is generally found in the river mouth of the Godavari. It is an estuarine species. The fish is also found in the river mouth of the Mahanadi. But due to wanton pollution of water, its population is dropping fast. Further, it has recently been found by the Japanese that this fish cures cancer and other fatal diseases. The oil of the fish is also very useful. Taking the weakness of the Indian Administration, the Japanese Government is attempting to claim property ownership of the species. The fish is as delectable as hilsa.
The most amazing thing is that Red sanders, generally noticed in the foothills of the Eastern Ghat, is soon going to be slip out of our hands. It is an endemic tree of the Deccan plateau, found most luxuriantly in AP and Gajapati district of Odisha. This species is found at 1,500 ft altitude and needs deep mineral-rich soil. Its wood has medicinal properties. The Maharajas of Gajapati used to supply Red sanders for use of Lord Jaganath. Its wood is very valuable and takes good carving and polishing as compared to other species of the family.
Its sister species is Piasal. The massive trunk of Red sanders attracts the western countries, which are now trying claim property right over it. Similarly, Basumati rice and turmeric which are indigenous Indian products are now being claimed by the some western countries as theirs.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who first advocated for Jibe Daya (compassion for wildlife) pitched for the protection and conservation of ecological diversities across the globe. The Indian Government should be very cautious about our property right on animal, bird and plants. If we do not object to the claims by foreign countries on our local species, it will be a great loss.
(The writer is a former senior forest officer and an environmentalist)

Gir records its highest daily number of tourists.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Nov 17, 2012, 06.52AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Gir sanctuary, the last habitat of the Asiatic lion, is turning into a star attraction. The sanctuary recorded an its all-time high in terms of number of tourists visiting in a single day.
The sanctuary received a record 9,384 tourists on Friday. This is 27% higher than highest recorded number in the past few years. The previous best was 7,356 tourists in a single day last year. Sources in the forest department said it that the forest department was forced to call for additional 20-seater buses because of the rush.
"Since the number of individual permits was only 150 a day, it was not easy to meet the rush and it was decided to have 20-seater buses. Last year, two such buses were pressed into service, but this year 12 were pressed into service in the Gir Sanctuary and another 14 buses at the Devalia interpretation zone," said the officer.
Deputy conservator of forests Sandeep Kumar said that so far the highest number of tourists visiting the sanctuary was 7,356 tourists and on Friday, this record was broken with 9,384 tourists entering on Friday.
Sandeep Kumar said in the last four days of the Diwali festival revenue grew about 22% as compared to the last Diwali festival. He said there was a 139% increase in the number of foreign tourists in these four days and Indian tourists registered an increase of 21%. Officials said that this year, when the sanctuary closed in May end, the number of tourists had shot up by about 40% compared to last year.
Footfalls at Gir and Devaliya safaris crossed 4.11 lakh between June 1, 2011 and May 25, 2012 - an increase of 1.16 lakh tourists -the highest ever.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Paignton Zoo lion cub keeps his eye on ball.

Monday, November 05, 2012
This rare Asiatic lion cub had no difficulty in keeping his eye on the ball during a playful session at Paignton Zoo.
The cub delighted crowds with his antics at the special development session, during which him and his siblings were introduced to solid balls for the first time – all of it captured by photographer Richard Austin.
Showing a quick grasp of basic skills, the cub mastered trapping and dribbling the ball like he was playing for England. However, the training session clearly proved to be a tiring one and it wasn't long before the youngster was sitting back and ready for a nap.
The cub was one of four born in May to mother Indu and father Mwamba at the zoo. The cubs are two males, Jari and Sabal, and their sisters Maliya and Zarina.
Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. Fewer than 400 survive in the wild in the Gir National Park in India. There are conservation breeding programmes in zoos, including a European Endangered Species Programme.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Leopard that killed child is trapped.

Express news service
Posted: Nov 04, 2012 at 0717 hrs IST
Ahmedabad Forest officials have caught a leopard believed to have killed a two-year-old child at a village near Kodinar in Junagadh on Friday evening.
Dr Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests (DCF) at Gir (Sasan) said over phone that the leopard, a female believed to be about five years old, was caught in a trap laid by forest staff around 1.30 am on Saturday. He added the leopard was believed to have been responsible for two or three attacks on humans in the area earlier. The leopard will be sent to Sakkarbaug Zoo, Kumar said.

Madhya Pradesh to emulate Gujarat model for safety of tigers.

PTI | Nov 05, 2012, 04:40AM IST
Bhopal: Tiger state Madhya Pradesh may follow Gujarat's model for safety of the big cats by not recruiting "aged and more qualified" forest guards for its reserves.
A proposal in this regard is under consideration of the state forest department.
The move comes after recommendations of a three-member committee on several measures to protect tigers, including one to ban gathering of people in forest areas near tiger reserves where the big cats have been seen.
"No matter what the minimum qualification is but it has been experienced that getting good marks in the test is no guarantee that the aspirant may be mentally and physically suitable to be appointed as forest guard. The guards need to be fit in such a way that they can roam around the forest and live in its far flung areas.
"It will be only possible when the recruitment rules are made on the lines of those formed by Gujarat state to keep suitable person for the job. The conservation of forest is not likely to be done by over aged and over qualified guards," the committee, comprising senior Indian Forest Service officers, said.
As per present recruitment rules, a person has to be Class Xth qualified, secure 70 marks in the written exam and about 9 marks in the interview.
The report also noted that illegal activities like ration shops and cooking gas distribution centres were taking place in the core areas of tiger reserves.
The committee found that none of about 60 forest circles have so far formed "rescue squad" to act in case of emeregency, despite several reminders from the government.
The panel has also suggested measures to check 'picnic' activities near forest areas to avoid "man and wild animal conflicts."
Taking note of the committee's recommendation, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Dr P K Shukla, has moved a proposal to recruit suitable persons for appointment as forest guards, as is being done in Gujarat.
As many as 295 posts, including 222 for forest guards, at various levels are lying vacant in six tigers reserves of Madhya Pradesh.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Leopard kills two-year-old girl in Junagadh, injures another.

Express news service : Ahmedabad, Sat Nov 03 2012, 07:14 hrs
A two-year-old girl died after a leopard attacked and dragged her for about 100 metres while she was playing at a mango orchard in Kadwasa village near Kodinar in Junagadh district on Friday evening.
Another girl, believed to be about three or four years old who playing nearby, was injured apparently by the big cat.
The victim was playing at her family’s mango orchard, with her mother and grandmother nearby, when the leopard attacked her around 7.30 pm. The two women gave chase to the leopard and the animal dropped the girl around 100 metres away. The girl died after some time.
Soon, forest officials reached the spot and discovered that another girl had been injured. It is presumed that the same leopard may have attacked her, said Dr K Ramesh, deputy conservator of forests at Gir West Division, adding that forest staff were laying traps to catch the animal.