Monday, July 29, 2013

Shifting of Asiatic lions: Gujarat to point out technical lapses to challenge decision.

Shifting of Asiatic lions: Gujarat to point out technical lapses to challenge decision
Himanshu Kaushik, TNN | Jul 29, 2013, 02.36 AM IST
The Supreme Court is yet to issue a verdict on the review petition filed by the Gujarat government.

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government is all set to pitch its arguments against the translocation of the Asiatic lions before a 12-member committee at a meeting scheduled to be held in Delhi on Monday. The government will point out technical lapses and cite the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines to challenge the translocation.

Officials said that at a high level meeting of state government officials, it was decided that the government would object to the meeting being convened, as the Supreme Court is yet to issue a verdict on the review petition filed by the Gujarat government. However, the government is also ready with technical grounds for opposing the translocation.

Senior officials said that the Gujarat government will first ask for the project report. "The report of the project which was designed and implemented in the early 1990's has not officially been given to the Gujarat forest department." The fact that permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) has not been sought for the translocation, in violation of the terms of the Wildlife Protection Act, will also be raised during the meeting on Monday.

A senior official cited the apex court judgment of April 15, 2013, which states, "Needless to say, the number of lions to be re-introduced would depend upon the density of prey base and other related factors, which the committee will assess."

He said that there are reports that Madhya Pradesh had carried out a prey base census in May this year, and estimated the latest figure to be around 80 animals per sq km. The official said that this figure seems to be exaggerated, as in 2005, the density of wild prey catchable by lions (chital, sambar, nilgai, wild pig) was 13 animals per sq km. The Gujarat government has decided to challenge the census and demand that a fresh census be conducted, in collaboration with Gujarat forest officials.

Further, the state government has also decided to cite the new July 2013 guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The guidelines clearly warn against such translocations to places outside of the species' indigenous range.

In addition, the guidelines mandate that a risk assessment and feasibility study should be conducted to determine whether a translocation should proceed or not. Where possible, formal methods should be used for making decisions based on the best evidence. As a general principle, where substantial uncertainty about the risks of a translocation outside indigenous range remain, such a translocation should not be undertaken. Hence, Gujarat will also ask the committee to carry out the mandated studies before a final decision regarding the translocation is made.

Modi-Shivraj war for lions to heat up.

An uncanny political fight treading into wildlife will start from Monday when a committee of experts will consider relocation of lions from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh as directed by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had opposed the relocation terming Gir lions as “Gujarati pride” and had even threatened to seek review of the Supreme Court order, which has not happened so far. Madhya Pradesh had claimed that Kuno Palpur was ready for soft release of lions.

The differing view of the two state governments and some wildlife experts would come out in open when wildlife wardens of the two stat
es participate in the environment ministry’s committee to decide on relocation of Gir lions.

Chetan Chauhan , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 28, 2013
The committed is headed by additional director general, wildlife, SS Gabrayal and has experts such as former director of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) PR Sinha, WII faculty J Y Jhala, senior ecologist Ravi Chellam and ATS John as members. The visible omission from the committee is petitioner and conservationist Fayaz Khudsar, who has worked extensively in Kuno.

Many believe that the committee is loaded with experts who believe that Kuno is not ready for relocation.

Chellam, who did Kuno habitat viable study in 1993, in his report to the Supreme Court had raised doubts over MP’s claim on prey base in Kuno to sustain lion population and adequacy of 344 sq kilometer of the park to provide second home to the big cats.

 “Review of the most recent data provided by Madhya Pradesh reveals several flaws both with data collection methods as well as potentially with the analysis,” he said in his note to the court. Sinha had also raised doubts over Kuno’s ability to sustain relocation.

Madhya Pradesh forest department is not ready to take this criticism. “Any expert from anywhere in the world can visit Kuno and do a study on prey base,” said a senior MP forest department official. “Kuno may be 344 sq kms but it is part of contiguous forest of 4,000 sq kms. The limit of the park can be extended any time,” the official added.

Other than experts, MP government officials will also have to face charged Gujarat government officials, who have been directed to oppose the relocation tooth and nail.

Environment ministry officials, however, said all views would be taken into consideration and the committee may be expanded for wider scientific input.  “Lions will not go there immediately. It will take some time,” an official said.

Gujarat objects to tiger experts on panel to shift Gir lions.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Jul 27, 2013, 03.12AM IST
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government has written to the minister of environment and forests (MoEF) raising objections over the composition of the 12-member committee to chalk out the translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh.
Gujarat has also objected to the first meeting of the committee, formed on orders of Supreme Court, scheduled for Monday in Delhi.
While some of the names of committee members have been suggested by the apex court, it had also observed that the Union ministry was free to co-opt lion experts from anywhere in the country.
The letter says that experts from Gujarat have been ignored even as most of the existing members specialize on tiger conservation.
The Gujarat government has objected to Monday's meeting at a time when it had moved SC with a review petition seeking a fresh look into the judgment dated April 15, allowing the translocation. The letter, signed by chief wildlife warden C N Pandey, has requested the Union ministry to postpone the meeting till the outcome of the review petition.
"We were taken aback when we heard that the committee has already announced its first meeting as we were under the impression that it will happen only after the SC disposes the review petition," said a senior Gujarat official.
While admitting that such a letter has been dashed off to the Centre, H K Dash, principal secretary of state forest and environment, refused to divulge any information about the contents of the letter.
The 12 committee includes additional director general (wildlife), MoEF as the chairperson and has experts like AJT Johnsingh, Y B Jhala, Ravi Chellam, P R Sinha and M K Ranjitsinh besides chief wildlife wardens of MP and Gujarat.
The committee will decide on the number of lions to be shifted, identify individual animals for shifting, monitor the shifting on behalf of the MoEF and provide technical inputs for translocation.

Lions in Gir clear virus scan.

AHMEDABAD: The results of the study carried out by the forest department for detection of possible presence of dangerous viruses have brought in much relief to the department. The study which was primarily carried out in 10 lions revealed that there is no presence of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Pestes Des Petits Ruminants Virus (PPR).

This was carried out post an alarm raised by Dr Richard Kock of Britain's Royal Veterinary College who was quoted as saying, "The lions in India are a small vulnerable population and widespread infection caused by such a virus can kill at least 40% of the lions in Gir." Dr Kock stated that he planned to visit India in September to conduct tests with the help of Wildlife Institute of India ( WII).

The bogey of a deadly virus that wiped out a significant number of wild lions in the African Serengeti in mid-1990s was raised again in May this year, ostensibly to support the proposal of transfer of Asiatic lions from its only home in Gujarat to a new hostile habitat in Madhya Pradesh.

TOI has found that the study, which was completed in 2012, was based on a sample taken from a lion carcass in 2006.

Gujarat Forest Department entrusted the job of screening the Asiatic lions for these viruses to Gujarat State Bio-Technology Mission (GSBTM) working under the department of science and technology, Government of Gujarat.

GSBTM report on Thursday revealed that both viruses - CDV and PPR - were absent in the tissue samples of all the 10 Asiatic lions. The tests were conducted on six males and four females. Out of these 10, seven were from the wild and three were from captivity. The animal tissue samples were collected as opportunistic collection from lions, thus the sampling was quite random.

Chief wildlife warden, Gujarat, C N Pandey said, "This investigation report further confirmed the incorrectness of the May 16 report. The state forest department is not only sensitive and vigilant about the issue, but has also acquired capabilities of high-end scientific investigations with the help of GSBTM, that will go a long way in the scientific management of lions in the state."

Senior officials from the forest department said that they are not taking the matter lightly and are fully aware that Madhya Pradesh will raise this issue in the apex court and even before the 12-member committee formed by the ministry of forest and environment over translocation. "Hence, the state wanted to be ready with the test report so that it could be produced in court whenever required. The state government is also aware that the neighbouring state will try to show as if every lion in Gir was suffering from PPR and each lion death was caused by the virus," an official said.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Where are 2 lions of Chhatbir zoo hiding?

CHANDIGARH: Two lions that stepped out of their enclosure in Chhatbir zoo situated on the Chandigarh-Patiala road two days ago have not yet returned or been located, heightening the possibility of them going missing even as the authorities claimed otherwise.

Sources told TOI that a 20-year-old Asiatic lion and a two-year-old lioness were let out to roam within the lion safari - an area spread over eight hectares with shrubs and grasslands - on Saturday. The lioness, Heli, was brought from Gujarat, while the lion, Raman, was born in Chhatbir itself. Worryingly, for the past 48 hours, zookeepers have not sighted them despite scouring for them a number of times. "We had carried search operations and went in our vehicle to trace them. But they have not been spotted yet," said a zoo employee.

However, zoo director Kuldeep Kumar does not believe anything was amiss. "The lions were let open in the safari which is within the zoo. As a habit, they return to eat food in the den. Maybe they felt uncomfortable. But they are not missing," said Kumar. Punjab chief wildlife warden Darinder Singh too echoed Kumar"s sentiments. "It is nothing unusual. Whenever lions feel uncomfortable in their den, they roam in the safari for days and return whenever they feel like," he said. "Lions do not require food daily like humans. Usually, they kill some small animal from the forest itself. People are safe while visiting the safari as metal bars are installed all around for security reasons," he added. According to experts, lions prefer free spaces in the forest. They do not feel at ease in closed and dense forests.

Missing or not, the prolonged absence of the two lions has alarmed the staff. An eight-month-old cub, Abhay, has been confined to his enclosure and not allowed to roam freely. "We cannot leave the new lion out until the other two return to their den as they usually get into a fight," said the employee.

Death of animals in zoo causing concern.

Established by Travancore King Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma in 1857, the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is located in a 55 acre campus in the heart of the city.
The zoological park here, one of the oldest in South India, has turned into a virtual graveyard of animals with at least ten inmates dying due to various diseases in the last fortnight. 
The casualty included two leopard cubs, four spotted deer, two sambar deer, one Malabar giant squirrel and a 13-day-old hippo cub. 
With the death of the leopard cubs, the total number of the wild cats has come down to five, zoo sources said. 
The leopard cubs, Sarishma and Asha, died after being infected with the Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV), commonly known as 'cat plague'. 
Most of the deer were victims of a contagious disease spread by flies which extract blood from its hoofs. 
However, B Joseph, the Director of the zoological park, said the issue of animal deaths was a "bit exaggerated" as most of them had died due to age-related ailments. 
"It is true that the leopard cubs died due to FPV, which affects the cat family. But, many deer had died due to age-related ailments. The case of Malabar squirrel was also not different. The hippo cub was killed after it was kicked by its mother hippopotamus under water," Joseph told PTI. 
In the wake of the deaths, an experts' panel, comprising officials of animal husbandary department and veterinarians, has been set up to study the issue and suggest remedial measures, on instructions from Minister for Zoos and Museums P K Jayalakshmi. 
"Incessant rain is a major reason for the spread of disease-causing flies in the animal enclosures. It is also a major hurdle for taking up hygienic measures," Joseph said. 
Established by Travancore King Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma in 1857, the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is located in a 55 acre campus in the heart of the city. 
The green-rich park, which houses large number of animals like lion, tiger, leopard, rhinoceros, Asiatic lions, elephants, and zebras besides birds like Indian Peafowl, White Spoonbill and Cassowary, is frquented by holidayers and nature buffs.

On the mammal trail.

  • In a precarious position: The Asiatic lion in its only lair in western Gujarat. Photo: N. Shiva Kumar
    The Hindu In a precarious position: The Asiatic lion in its only lair in western Gujarat. Photo: N. Shiva Kumar
  • Chinkara: An antelope often mistaken for a deer. Photo: N. Shiva Kumar
    The Hindu Chinkara: An antelope often mistaken for a deer. Photo: N. Shiva Kumar
    N. Shiva Kumar

A wildlife tome focuses on the variety of mammals found across South Asia, their distribution, behavioural aspects and issues affecting their survival

Mammals on our planet make up one of the smallest groups, with just 5,490 members and South Asia is privileged to have about 600 wild mammals and probably a few of them are still hidden in jungles that are waiting to be discovered and documented. To compile many of these creatures in nearly 766 pages, over 75 authors in about 15 years have amassed diligent details of 574 mammals in a bulky publication. The two-volume book is titled A Complete Guide to the Mammals of South Asia.
This wildlife tome is a colossal occupation indeed for the 70-year-old AJT Johnsingh, a qualified naturalist from Bangalore. He still trudges and tramples the green pathways deep in the jungles looking for elusive wildlife. He says, “The absence of a book giving comprehensive material on most of the mammals of the South Asian region prompted Dr. Nima Manjrekar and me to take up this tough task of ‘stitching together’ many of the missing research on mammals during the last two to three decades and there was a need to put it all in the form of a ready reference book.” The book is a graphic depiction of the biological and evolutionary aspect of the small and big mammals and also comments on their conservation status.
The book cover has a very poignant photograph of a langur with a contemplating gaze that is almost human with emotion and seems to say “You Homo sapiens are eroding our homes and building your own”. This is perhaps the only publication in India that condenses all aspects of field identification, in-depth sections on distribution, behavioural aspects, present and past status and even precarious population postulations of mammals in the wilds of India. While the Volume 1 covers bats, primates (monkeys), canids (foxes, wolves, jackals) and felids (cat family); the Volume 2 focuses on marine mammals, elephants, rhinoceros, bovids (wild cattle), cervids (deer family) and rodents.
Despite the abundant advancements in science and research, of the 600 mammals’ species, some are extinct today and few are highly endangered, precariously hanging by a thread. The dead list includes the cheetah and the miniature Javan rhinoceros. The Sumatran rhino is extinct in India and Bangladesh where it was found earlier and its existence in Myanmar is precarious. The Great Indian Rhino, which was once found in the Indus Valley in Pakistan, is extinct and now found only in certain pockets of India and Nepal. This meticulous listing is prepared by P.O. Nameer, head of Centre for Wildlife Studies, Kerala Agricultural University, Trichur, and is regarded as an authority on mammalian taxonomy.
Though the text is almost flawless and amply juxtaposed with research indications, the string of words seem to be too lengthy at times which would make a reader get lost in their labyrinth. The choice of photographs is very effective and some are indeed rare but the publisher seems to have given less importance to the pictorial aspect. The photographs are not large enough to clearly exhibit the identifying mammal.
These volumes would benefit zoologists, students of wildlife, forest officials, even teachers and professors pursuing Indian natural history.
Speaking about the recent natural calamity that wrecked havoc in Uttarakhand, Mr. Johnsingh said that such incidents affect not only human beings but also wild plants and animal species in the mountainous highland habitats.
“Wildlife populations across the country are suffering largely due to the deficiency and also excess rains. We are seeing this happening in the Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarahole landscape in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu where the rains have failed and elephants are dying. Swollen rivers in and around Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary have inundated the rhino country and many deaths of smaller animals would go unrecorded. Like flash floods and desertification, forest fires are also becoming a more severe problem.”

KINGDOM CRUSHED? Lion run over on Dhari-Junagadh road.

Rajkot: A lion was found dead on roadside between Shivtali and Lalpur villages on Dhari-Junagadh state highway. It is being assumed that the male lion, which was about five years old, was run over by a vehicle on Sunday while it was crossing the road close to Gir forest.
    Anshuman Sharma, deputy conservator of forest (Gir east division) said at Dhari that primary investigations point towards an accidental death. “Prima facie it seems
that the wild cat was hit by a vehicle as blood stains were found on the road,” he said.
    This is the first case where a lion has died after being hit by a vehicle. Sources said that during the monsoon, lions come out of the
jungle and prefer to stay in open areas. Earlier, in November 2012, a six-month-old female cub was run over by a goods train near Uchaiya village of Rajula taluka. Prior to that, a lion had died in December 2009 while trying to cross a bridge over Hiran River that flows through Gir sanctuary.
Leopard killed in Amreli taluka Rajkot: A male leopard was found dead near Khisari village in Dhari taluka of Amreli district on Monday. Sources said that the leopard was hit by a speeding vehicle. Forest officials have sent the leopard’s carcass for postmortem to ascertain the exact cause of death. TNN

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Take up shifting of lions issue with Gujarat: MP Cong.

Press Trust Of India  |  Bhopal  July 19, 2013 Last Updated at 20:53 IST
SC had on April 15 allowed trans location of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to MP, saying the species is under threat of extinction and needs a second home
The Opposition has asked the -led to directly take up with their Gujarat counterparts the issue of trans location of from there to a state sanctuary.

"Though Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan always talks about the state's interests, but in the matter of shifting of Asiatic Lions from Gujarat's Gir Forest to Kuno Palpur sanctuary, he is hardly doing anything in the interest of the people who were relocated from the area for trans location of lions," environmentalist and state Congress unit joint spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said today.

"Chouhan should take up the matter with the top BJP leadership as the matter is between the two BJP-ruled states, without waiting for a court directive in the matter," Chaturvedi said.

The Supreme Court had on April 15 this year allowed trans location of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, saying the species is under threat of extinction and needs a second home.

However, Gujarat had decided to file a review petition in the matter. Currently, there are about 400 Asiatic lions in Gujarat's Gir sanctuary. Chaturvedi also said that he will urge the state Congress manifesto committee chairman Suresh Pachouri to include the issue in the party's manifesto as people from 24 villages were shifted from the Kuno Palpur area to facilitate a second home for Asiatic Lions.

"The forest department had relocated large number of people from the area for Asiatic Lions. At the same time, due to political rivalry between Chouhan and Modi the big cats are not being brought to the area without realising the pain and agony of large number of people who were forced to leave their homes," Chaturvedi alleged.

Citing a study conducted by an environmentalist in Gujarat, he said that shifting of Asiatic Lions from Gir forest area to another location is genetically and environmentally beneficial for this gene as any natural calamity would wipe out the entire population of the carnivore.

Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary, home to many species of wild animals including wolves, leopards and nilgai, lies in the Sheopur district in north western Madhya Pradesh, about 120 kms from Gwalior.

According Wildlife Institute of India (WII) experts, the sanctuary is the most promising location to re-establish a free ranging population of the Asiatic lions and certified it ready to receive its first batch of trans located lions from Gir wildlife sanctuary where they are highly overpopulated, Chaturvedi said.

The sanctuary was selected as the reintroduction site for the Asiatic lions because the earlier range of the lions there was hunted into extinction in 1873, he added.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Deer breeding centre to be set up at Mandvi.

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013, 13:53 IST | Place: Surat | Agency: DNA
Forest dept will develop breeding centre for four-horned deer; centre expected to become operational from September.
State forest department is going to develop a breeding centre in Mandvi taluka of Surat district to introduce deer in the South Gujarat region, which is rich in forest.

Incidentally, this would be the second deer breeding centre of the region. Nature Club, a Surat-based NGO, has already started operating a centre at Vansda National Park in Navsari district since April 2010. The centre has 24 deer now.

The breeding centre will come up at Sarsinh village in Mandvi taluka where the forest department has identified two acres of land for the purpose. It has already started working on the site and it is expected to become operational from September. The centre will also have a hospital and separate cages for cubs along with a research centre. The village has been selected for being close to the forest.

“We will breed four-horned deer or Chausinga at the centre. Though South Gujarat has a good forest cover, animals are limited in number. It is our attempt to restore natural habitat in the forests. The four-horned deer were once found in this region and so we have selected them for breeding,” said AG Vasava, divisional forest officer (DFO) of Surat.

According to Vasava, deer will be procured from zoos and national parks of the state and country. Currently, a master plan for the procurement of deer is being prepared, which would be finalised in the next few days.

Sources said once the breeding centre becomes successful, the department would release the animals into the forest. This would be done after the deer population at the centre reaches an expected number. Further, the forest department will guide locals so that they can prevent any harm to the animals once they are released in the forests.

Trees take root in rural areas.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Jul 18, 2013, 05.11AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat is turning greener, at least in its villages. In the past five years, tree cover in the state's villages has increased by about 11-12 per cent and has crossed the figure of 30 crore trees. This is one area where rural inhabitants have trounced their city cousins.
While greenery in villages has jumped, the state has seen a rapid decline in the tree cover along roads with a 20% fall recorded in roadside plantation. Sources in the state forest department said that the last tree count taken up in 2008-09 revealed that there were 26.9 crore trees along the state's rural stretches.
Forest officials said that once collation of tree count data for rural Gujarat is complete, the department will take up the count for urban areas. Officials said only full-grown trees which have achieved good height and have a sizeable girth are taken into account.
This decline in green canopy near urban centres is evident as one drives along national highways or state highways. "In the past five years, at least 20% of trees planted along the roads have disappeared because of road-widening and other infrastructure projects that have come up along the national and state highways," said a Gujarat forest official.
Interestingly, the 2011 report of the Forest Survey of India revealed that there was a fall in tree cover outside forest areas of almost 553 sq km. "Earlier, we relied on data collected by the FSI using satellite images. Now, we have taken up the physical count of each tree. Satellite images do not allow us to study trees lined up along roads and canals and those scattered across fields. These also should be looked at to understand the extent and scope of our tree cover. Forest department officials took up field sampling and used statistical analysis by dividing the state into zones and types of vegetation," said a forest official.
A senior forest official said that the increase in the tree cover was mainly along the fields and this was because the farmers have linked their agro-economics with tree plantation. "Several farmers are now growing trees along the field boundary to sell timber at regular intervals. Even as this helps them to earn some extra money, it also increases tree cover," said the official.
A farmer is encouraged to plant trees on the side of the fields. When it is fully grown, he can cut the tree and and sell timber. The same model has met with success in Anand and Kheda.

Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat set for slugfest.

P Naveen, TNN Jul 18, 2013, 02.37AM IST
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh forest department is all set for a fresh slugfest over translocation of lions from Gujarat after the former deciding to shoot a letter to the Centre for expediting procedural formalities for shifting of big cats.
Multiple study reports are being compiled by State forest department to suppress review petition filed by their Gujarat counterpart challenging the April 15 order which directed the Gujarat to translocate lions to Palpur-Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Sheoupur district of the state.
The Gujarat government raised a dozen issues to oppose the translocation besides alleging that the earlier order had violated the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 as shifting of wild animals mandates prior permission of the chief wildlife warden of the state to which the animal belongs.
On this point, MP forest officials claim that they have already sent a letter to the Centre and would sent a fresh reminder for the same to the Centre.
"Since it's an inter-state matter, it's for the Centre to take the initiative. We are sending a request to the Union government to do the needful," says Narendra Kumar, PCCF, MP.
Another objection from Gujarat over shifting of lions to Kuno is that Kuno-Palpur is a habitat sandwiched between Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RNP) and Madhav National Park (MNP) and is frequented by tigers in a natural dispersal. It should be developed as a "tiger area" instead of "lion area". They also claimed that there would a high risk of tiger-lion conflict in Kuno besides threats from poachers.
To counter the claim, the state forest department has documented a study supported by geographical mapping, stating that natural dispersal of tigers is reported from areas outside Kuno. The Gujarat's review petition says the cats are not "critically endangered" species and fear of epidemic in Gir's lions is imaginary and unfounded.
In support of its claim, Gujarat has quoted a report of IUCN ( world conservation union) that the current population of Asiatic lions vulnerable though, is "a large, healthy population and a recent population and habitat viability analysis (PHVA) workshop in India (Walker 1994) predicted a zero percent chance of extinction over next hundred years, based on their population model"
Gujarat government also alleges that Madhya Pradesh has no clear roadmap for translocation and that there is a great risk of poaching of translocated big cats.
The state government had filed a "caveat" on the case within a week after the April 15 order of Supreme Court. The MPPCCF says they have strong ground to overcome the objections against shifting of lions.

Translocating animals outside home turf is high risk: International Union for Conservation of Nature.

AHMEDABAD: The latest guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on translocation of wildlife could prove to be a major roadblock for Madhya Pradesh's lion dreams. The world's oldest and most trusted global environmental organization says shifting animals outside their indigenous range "is high risk".

The guidelines, issued on July 12, warn, "There is a high risk of failure if the species originate from environments markedly different to the destination area. The risk is accentuated by the fact that the animals may be poorly adapted to the destination area."

Gujarat has resisted Madhya Pradesh's demand for Gir lions for the past decade. The Supreme Court had ordered translocation of lions to the Kuno Palpur sanctuary in its April 15 order after which Gujarat has filed a review petition.

Under the guidelines, shifting lions out of Gujarat would be classified as 'assisted colonization' where the species translocated is outside the indigenous range. The guidelines specify, "Translocations of organisms outside of their indigenous range are considered to be especially high risk given the numerous examples of species released outside their indigenous ranges subsequently becoming invasive, often with massively adverse impacts."

IUCN cautions that such translocation should be taken up only in cases where the risk is low and that the idea should be abandoned if there is any doubt. "If extinction of the species in the proposed destination area occurred long ago, or if conservation introductions are being considered for the first time, local communities may not develop a connect with a species new to them, and hence may oppose the move. In such cases, special effort to counter such attitudes should be made well in advance of any release," the guidelines said.

TOI has regularly reported on how both licensed and unlicensed guns are commonplace in villages around Kuno with the government making no effort to sensitize the people about lion translocation. Besides, in the early 1900s, African lions had been introduced here but the local populace had hunted them out of existence within a year.

The new guidelines say, "Multiple parties involved in most translocations have their own mandates, priorities and agendas. Unless these are aligned through effective facilitation and leadership, unproductive conflict may fatally undermine translocation implementation or success."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coming home to Kuno.

  • This is my home. Photo: AP
    This is my home. Photo: AP


The Asiatic lion in Gir is set to move to a new home in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. The sanctuary is a proven historical habitat of the magnificent creature.

India’s Asiatic lions have a new home. There are over 400 Asiatic lions in India, and Gujarat’s Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is their only home in the country. The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, with a total area of 1,412 sq km, is located 65 km to the south east of Junagadh in Gujarat. The national park and wildlife sanctuary is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia. In 1994, the population of lions in the sanctuary was limited to 284. It was due to the efforts of the State wildlife authorities and conservationists that the 2010 census showed the population of the lions to be 411.
While the survival of the Asiatic lion seems to be momentarily secure, it is important to ensure that the survival of the species is certain. As protected a sanctuary as Gir may be, a single epidemic or natural calamity could affect the entire population of the Asiatic lions in Gir, wiping out the species and causing their extinction. As a result, the Wildlife Institute of India thought it necessary to transport and shift a pride or more to the closeby Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. This move will not only ensure the survival of the Asiatic lion, but also increase the prey density or availability of prey in Gir for the remaining prides.
It was in 1994 that the Wildlife Institute of India, located in Dehradun, carried out a survey (Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project) on the re-introduction of Asiatic lions and recommended Kuno Sanctuary as an alternative home for the Asiatic lion. At one point, the big cats used to roam the vast expanses of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh before human settlements encroached their natural territories.
However, the project recently met with a serious roadblock. The government of Gujarat refused to part with the Asiatic lions. Calling them the pride of Gujarat, the local government was adamant on restricting the population of the Asiatic lion only to Gir, giving conservationists great cause for concern. The Gujarat government maintained that the wildlife authorities in Madhya Pradesh would be unable to protect the lions as they had failed to protect their own tiger population in the recent past. However, the Supreme Court of India, the country’s highest judicial authority, ruled in favour of translocating the lions to Kuno so as to ensure their survival.
The translocation of the Asiatic lion to Kuno has involved several important steps to ensure that the new additions would have space to roam as well as large numbers of prey. Twenty-four villages were relocated at Kuno to make room for the big cats. This step will ensure that the animal-human conflict is kept to a minimum.
Nevertheless, the translocation of the Asiatic lion to Kuno will be a test case for conservation.
Efforts will also have to be taken to ensure that the endangered species does not fall prey to poaching and locals will need to be educated and involved in the conservation process.
To meet with success, the project will need male lions to be moved from Gir to Kuno every three to five years for the next 30 years.
Period of study spanning 20 years: 1995 to 2015
Three phases:
a. pre-translocation phase (1995-2000),
b. translocation and population and population build-up (2000-2005)
c. follow up and consolidation (2006-2015).
Fact file
The Asiatic Lion is the seventh sub-species of lions found on this planet. It is listed as an endangered species
The lion was once widely distributed through Persia to India
The Nawab of Junagadh was among the first to extend protection to the Asiatic lion, when their population had fallen to a dozen at the start of the 20 century
The Asiatic lion is smaller in size in comparison to the African lion

Asiatic lions have homes in over 1,000 Saurashtra villages.

(Recently, the Supreme Court…)

Vijaysinh Parmar, TNN Jul 15, 2013, 03.20AM IST
SASAN (JUNAGADH): Have Asiatic lions found their own homes within the home around the Gir forest?
State forest department officials said over the last two decades, lions have dispersed from the Gir forest, which was a core area of Asiatic lions, and have settled down in respective areas and made their permanent 'homes'.

The data analysis of direct and indirect evidence like sightings, prey and pugmarks show that lions' kingdoms spread over 1,050 villages in three districts of Saurashtra region, said Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests (wildlife division), Sasan-Gir.
"Lions have dispersed from core population of the Gir forest to other areas over the period of time in search of new habitat and resources. From 1997, lions began to stray in the eastern revenue areas of Amreli and Bhavnagar districts,"
"Acoording to the 2005 lion census, there were 68 lions (17 in Girnar, 12 in coastal forests, 8 in Mitiyala and 31 in eastern Savarkundla-Palitana landscape) outside Gir. The latest data analysis of lions' movements shows that there six satellite populations (those outside the Gir forest) of lions where the wild cats have permanently settled and made their homes," said Kumar.
Recently, the Supreme Court had ordered translocation Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh. The state government has opposed the move and is likely to file a curative petition before the apex court.
Forest officials argued that there are no threats of any disease or epidemic as shown in favour of translocation for lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh because these lions have permanently and comfortably settled in these six different areas at a geographically distanced area from each other.
"Lions have already found their own homes within the home and there is no threat about their extinction. At present, lions occupy an area over 16,000 square kilometre in Saurashtra spread over in three districts-Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar,'' he added.

Respite for Sasan, new lion tourist zone soon.

Friday, Jul 12, 2013, 13:50 IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
Forest dept also aims to target pilgrims coming to Palitana, Bagdana that are close to proposed zone.
Now, tourists wanting to escape the rush at Sasan have another option. The forest department is planning to start a tourism zone in Hipavadli and adjoining Ranigada area that have a sizeable lion population. Close to 55 lions are believed to have made the area around Hipavadli their home as part of a natural migration process.

“It is too early to say anything as the plan is in the nascent stage as of now,” said chief wildlife warden CN Pandey. Hipavadli is in Amreli district while Ranigada is in Bhavnagar. The 16-km zone is likely to be on the border of the two districts.

Apart from easing the tourist pressure on Sasan, the move is also aimed at targeting visitors coming to the pilgrimage centres of Palitana and Bagdana.
Palitana is 50 km and Bagdana is 25 km away from the proposed tourism zone. Both the places host over 3 lakh tourists every year.  

The proposed tourism zone will have a reception centre, parking, waiting room, parking for private vehicles. Visitors will also get guided tours.

“The lions that had earlier lost their territory are regaining them. Apart from Gir Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Girnar, Mithyala and Paniya, they have now also spread to the coastal areas of Saurashtra. In fact, the lions are spread around 15,000 sq km region which is now called the Greater Gir and this tourism zone is part of it,” said Pandey.

The forest department is also working towards making Barda an alternate habitat for the lions. At present, the department is concentrating on improving the prey-base in the area. A spotted deer breeding programme is already underway and 60 animals have already been released. Interestingly Barda was earlier home to the Asiatic lions. They were last seen here in 1881. 

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TNN Jul 12, 2013, 11.11PM IST
SASAN: Forest department personnel rescue two wild animals on an average daily in Gir forest area, the last abode of Asiatic lions.
"This year we rescued 617 wild animals, which included lions, crocodiles and leopards among others in and around Gir forest. Our team carries out rescue operations on daily basis. These animals are rescued from ditches and wells into which they have fallen, residential areas where they venture into and also fields where they go at times," chief conservator of forests, wildlife division at Junagadh Circle, R L Meena said. He was addressing a seminar on 'Role and responsibility of media in lion conservation' in Sasan Gir.

Meena said number of wild animals is increasing in both the forest areas as well as outside and this calls for help of locals in conservation efforts. He pointed that the local people have played a significant role in lion conservations in the region.
Deputy conservator of forest at Sasan Gir headquarters Sandeep Kumar explained the behaviour and current pattern of dispersal of lions outside the Gir area. The seminar was jointly organized by the forest department and the information department.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ill-planning makes plantation drive ineffective.

KANPUR: Most of the saplings planted on 1,000 acres of Fisher Forest area during the Van Mahotsava have dried away for want of regular water supply.

The drive was launched by the wildlife and social forestry divisions of Etawah in the area earmarked for Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's dream project Lion Safari.

In the first phase, more than 20,000 saplings of nearly 22 varieties were planted without taking steps to ensure its survival. During a recent visit to the area, Principal conservator of forest (PCF) Iqbal Singh was shocked to find many sapling drying away for want of regular watering. An irked Singh said "slackness on the part of authorities responsible for survival of saplings would not be tolerated. The issue would be raised before the chief minister soon."

Sources said the PCF found that the possibility of survival of saplings planted during 'Van Mahotsava' was bleak. Saplings of neem, sheesham, pakar, banyan, kachner, pipal, imli, kadam were planted in the 'Van Mahotsava' that concluded in the first week of July.

Both the Wildlife and Social Forestry divisions depend on rain water and have not made any arrangement for permanent availability of water in absence of rain. Environmentalists said, "Water is required to maintain moisture in soil. Rain water alone cannot help saplings grow. Before holding such drives, the department should first make proper water arrangements."

Environmentalists further asked the authorities to come up with an effective plan to nurture the saplings planted in Fisher forest area. They said smaller saplings need more attention and should be watered on daily basis.

Aniket Singh of Luhanna village close to Fisher forest area, said, "If all the saplings dry up, it will be sheer wastage of money. The authorities will surely go for a fresh ones, but they too will dry up if proper care is not taken."

Many patches across Fisher forest area where these saplings were planted still give a barren look. "The plants have dried up. At places no sapling is found," said another local resident, Khajan Singh.

He added that while bigger plants have deeper roots and could meet their water requirement from the soil, saplings had to be taken care of.

Not only the saplings dried, but the tree guards, too were of inferior quality and invited Iqbal Singh's rebuke.

It may be recalled that Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had recently given a green signal to a Lion safari park in Fisher forest area of Etawah district for conservation of Asiatic Lions. Some 150 hectares of land in Fisher Forest on Etawah-Gwalior national highway was acquired and notified as Lion Safari in 2005.

A budget of Rs 86 crore has already been sanctioned. June 2015 has been set as a deadline for the construction work regarding the project, sources said.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gujarat clears Mithivirdi Nuclear-power project.

GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority has quietly given the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance to the controversial proposal for a nuclear power plant at Mithivirdi village in Bhavnagar district. The plant is to be built by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

Sources in the state's forest and environment department said that the NPCIL had sent the proposal for CRZ clearance in January this year. After scrutiny, the state government gave clearance for the 6,000 MW nuclear power plant and also recommended the project to the Union ministry of forests and environment for final CRZ clearance.

A representative of the NPCIL made a presentation before the technical committee on March 25, 2013, on the activities proposed to be carried out in the CRZ area. "The environment impact assessment report prepared by Engineers India Limited and the CRZ map along with boundaries demarcated by Anna University were approved," a source said.

Both the BJP government in Gujarat and the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre are pushing hard for the Rs 60,000 crore nuclear power plant.

Earlier, in March this year, a crucial public hearing on the proposed project was organized. Several farmers groups, NGOs, and anti-nuclear power plant activists opposed to the project attended the hearing.

Former BJP MLA and leading farmers leader Dr Kanu Kalsaria said, "The project will not only damage the environment but snatch away the livelihood of farmers. It will also be a permanent threat to the people."

A total of 777 hectares are to be acquired for the project out of which 603 hectares is rich agricultural land.

Along with Mithivirdi nuclear power plant, the Gujarat government has also given CRZ clearance for the proposed barrage project across Narmada near Bhadbhut in Bharuch district and the common effluent disposal pipeline project along river Kolak proposed by Wel-Treat Enviro Management Organization.

CRZ clearance for the 50 MW tidal power project near Mandvi in Kutch proposed by Gujarat Power Corporation Limited was also granted by the authority.

Lord Jagannath all set for gala journey.

VADODARA: Lord Jagannath along with Lord Balram and Devi Subhadra will make their gala journey in the city on a decorated chariot on Wednesday that marks the auspicious day of Aashadh sud bij as per the Gujarati calendar.

After a break of five years, the 32nd annual Rath Yatra that will pass through rain-kissed roads will witness an elephant leading the festival of chariots.

In the wake of the serial blasts that rocked Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar, security has been beefed up at Gotri temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) that has been holding the annual Rath Yatra since last 31 years.

The Rath Yatra will begin at railway station at 2.30 pm when mayor of Vadodara Municipal Corporation Bharat Shah will emulate the ancient ritual enacted yearly by the Gajapati Maharajah of Puri, in which he will symbolically sweep the road in front of the cart of Lord Jagannath to inaugurate the august event.

Vadodara district collector Vinod Rao will be the chief guest at the inauguration of the procession.

"We have obtained the permission for an elephant to lead the procession. With this the Rath Yatra this year will be held in its most traditional way. Over the years, the Rath Yatra has turned into one of the largest cultural and religious festival of Gujarat's cultural capital," ISKCON Baroda's president Basu Ghosh Das informed media persons on Monday.

"Fifteen tones (15,000 kilogram) of 'shira prasad' cooked in desi ghee will be distributed to devotees from four trucks moving behind the chariot. Also, the forest department has arranged for distribution of 20,000 saplings during the procession as 'taru prasad'. This is the fifth year that the forest department will be distributing saplings on the route of the Rath Yatra," ISKCON Baroda's secretary Nityananda Ram Das said.

Quintals each of rava, sugar, pure ghee specially brought from Jamkhambhalia, cashew nuts, raisins and cardamom will be used for the 'shira prasad' that will be distributed along with bananas en route.

Later on Wednesday evening once the Rath Yatra procession gets over, full plates of 'prasad' that includes 'shira', 'puri', rice-kadhi will be distributed to around 40,000 visitors at the ISKCON temple premises.

The Rath Yatra will proceed from the railway station to Sayajibaug, Kalaghoda, Salatwada naka, Kothi Kacheri, Raopura main road, Jubilee baug, Padmavati shopping centre, Sursagar lake, Dandia Bazaar, Khanderao Market, Lal Court, Nyay Mandir, Madan Zhapa Road, Kevdabaug and end at Baroda High School, opposite Polo ground.

BOX: 50 students from 26 countries to chant 'Hare Rama, Hare Krishna'

Vadodara: Amidst the colorful procession of the Rath Yatra that will include a chariot, elephant, bands, buggies, horses and even 'bakra gadi', a group of 50 Gurukul students will shine out as they fill the air with chants of 'Hare Rama, Hare Krishna'.

Fifty students of Bhaktivedanta Academy (Gurukula) who reside at ISKCON's spiritual world headquarters at Sridham Mayapur, West Bengal, the birthplace of the founder of the Sankritan movement Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, have arrived in the city to participate in the Rath Yatra along with their teachers.

Starting from a one-year-old kid to a 26-year-old youth, these students, hailing from 26 countries across six continents, are being educated at the academy on the principles of the Vedic Gurukula system.

"At the academy, established in 1984, we make them fully Krishna conscious. These students hailing from North and South America, Europe, China, Taiwan, Russia, Australia and other Asian countries learn how to sing, worship the deity, conduct yagna puja along with English, Sanskrit, Mathematics and Science," principal Priti Vardhana Das told TOI.

"These students are on a month-long 'parikrama' which is part of their education curriculum. The Rath Yatra is the last leg of the parikrama," he said.

Central Zoo deprived of lion for failing to meet international standards.

KATHMANDU, July 8: The Central Zoo in Jawalakhel, Kathmandu has not had a lion since the past 15 years.

“We have had three lions in the zoo in the past. They lived their full life and died because of natural causes. I still remember how we gave the last of the lions a respectful burial, performing all the rituals,” said Radhakrishna Gharti, a zoo staff for the last 25 years.

“That was a male lion. It had grown so old and fragile in the last days that we had to shift it to an isolated place to keep it away from the visitors as it disliked noise and disturbance.”

According to Juddha Bahadur Gurung, who recently signed an MoU with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India in capacity of the member secretary of National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), the body that oversees the zoo, "a zoo without lion is simply incomplete."
Gurung informed that India is ready to gift the creature to Nepal if we can meet the criteria for the zoo.

“However, the fact is we do not meet the international standard for keeping a lion. International law specifies the quality of cage and the requirements related to space and human resource,” said Gurung.

“International law does not allow anyone to just gift an animal until the giver and taker are sure that all the standards are met. Actually, the responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the animal is more on the giver,” said Gurung. “Or else, we would have got a lion from India long time back.”
He added that the zoo would also love to get a zebra, another animal the zoo has been deprived of for a decade. “Both lion and zebra are very beautiful and much sought after animals, but they have been absent for a very long time now.”

As both are not found in Nepal, the zoo can have them only if another country which has them presents it to us, Gurung explains.
Sarita Gyanwali, a program officer at the zoo, adds that the lack of space has indeed limited the zoo´s capacity for adding more species. “It is true that we do not have sufficient space to accommodate more animals. For instance, even if any country is ready to provide us a lion right now, we hardly have a place for it,” she said. “But even other countries might not be willing to donate the animal to us as the population of lions has been declining very fast.”

After the lions in the zoo died one after another, the empty cages were gradually occupied by leopards, tigers and bears. Currently, four leopards and one bear occupy the space erstwhile inhabited by lions. According to Gharti, one of the cages had turned too old and had to be repaired before placing the bear in it. Other exotic animals that Nepal gets only through exchange program are siamang, ostrich, hippopotamus and some rare bird species.

One-horned rhino, Royal Bengal tiger, Asiatic elephant, wild buffalo, yellow headed turtle and gharial crocodiles in the zoo are considered very special, too, by the zoo visitors.

The zoo that stretches over 120 ropanis of land was set up in 1932 by the late Prime Minister Juddha SJB Rana. After the political changes of 1951, the government took over the zoo. It was opened for public only in 1956. Over the years, the zoo´s management changed hands among various government departments and it was handed over to NTNC in 1995 for 30 years. Currently, it accommodates 116 species, including mammals, reptiles, birds and aquatic animals.

More Hippos might join zoo soon

Though it is not sure how long will it take for the zoo to have a lion, it might soon get a pair of hippo, thanks to a recently signed deal between Nepal and India. Hippos first made it the zoo all the way from Thailand in 2000. Currently, just one hippo is living in the zoo. Zoo officials believe that entry of more hippos would help the existing hippo to combat loneliness.

“NTNC and Central Zoo of India signed a memorandum of understanding on May 27. It is to foster closer professional zoo relationship as well as to protect and conserve threatened wildlife habitats,” said Gurung.

He further informed that India has hippos in surplus and so it is ready to give a pair to Nepal. “As it is a kind of exchange program, we are going to present what we have in surplus such as birds, deer and so on. Actually we have already sent them the list of the surplus animal and waiting for their response.”

Though exchanging animals with other countries is not a new thing for Nepal, official agreement of this kind is indeed new, Gurung explained. He added that under the MoU, both the CZA and NTNC will sponsor exchange of its personnel to participate in workshops, trainings and exposure visits held in their respective countries, annually.

“A group of Indian experts recently came here upon our invitation to assess our resources and utilization. The MoU is valid for 3 years and hopefully, it will bring significant results,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Gharti informed that it was not easy for the first and the only lot of hippos to adjust in the zoo in the beginning. They needed warm water and the zoo had used the boiler system to keep the pond warm. Gradually, the mammals got used to the climate and atmosphere and later they no more needed the conditioned water.

Published on 2013-07-09 01:37:42

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shifting Gir lions will bring disaster: Experts.

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013, 10:35 IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
The issue of translocation of Asiatic Lions from Gir sanctuary to Madhya Pradesh has hit another wall — this time that of an NGO. The social organisation has opposed the move on various grounds, including the fact that most of earlier translocation attempts carried out in independent India had failed, often endangering the animals.

The NGO’s analysis of the arguments, on which the translocation of lions was finally allowed, shows that several factors relating to shifting the big cat were either not considered or ignored while allowing the translocation.

The NGO, Empower Foundation’s analysis titled — ‘Failure of the proposed lion translocation to Kuno Palpur, Madhya Pradesh’ —  also found that the government has not strongly positioned the fact that the lion habitat in Gujarat goes much beyond Gir.

Jalpesh Mehta and his team who carried out the analysis said the argument regarding an epidemic killing the entire populace of lion does not hold true as the lions are not concentrated in Gir alone, but have dispersed far and wide.

“If an epidemic can kill all the lions, the same thing can happen to all the tigers in the MP-Rajasthan-Maharashtra belt and Karnataka-Kerala-Tamil Nadu belt as the distance in these areas is more or less similar between Gir and other areas where lions are found,” said Mehta.

The NGO  also talks of the stress suffered by animals during capture and transfer to new locations apart from citing several cases of failed translocations particularly those concerning carnivores. 

The NGO argues that there is no history of any major successful translocation in India. The study mentions 10 cases of failed translocations of elephants, gaurs, leopards, rhinos, African and Asiatic Lions (from Gir to Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary in UP in 1956), which show only 16% success rate in a study of 119 cases of translocated animals. In the rest of the cases, the animals returned causing major conflicts, dying or being killed by locals due to severe man-animal conflicts.

Work on first phase of Lion Safari in full swing.

Faiz Rahman Siddiqui, TNN Jun 5, 2013, 02.46AM IST

KANPUR: The first phase of Lion Safari in Etawah started a fortnight ago. A breeding centre, veterinary hospital along with water-bodies and approach road would be constructed in the first phase of the safari being developed on 150 acres of Fisher Forest area on Etawah-Gwalior National Highway.
"The safari will be a model for other zoos and safaris. It will be developed in an eco-friendly manner and in accordance with the Central Zoo Authority rules. International standard would be followed in its architecture. It will be one of the most energy-efficient building among zoos and safaris across the country. Minimum use of bricks and construction material will be the hallmark of all construction work," said Sujoy Banerjee, deputy conservator of Forest Chambal division.

"Fencing work has started and construction of breeding centre and veterinary hospital is underway," he said, adding that facilities available in the safari would make it a complete tourist spot. Forest department sources said activities like felling of trees, mining, setting up of brick-kilns and industries or hotels and resorts that cause water, air or sound pollution have been prohibited within the periphery of Lion Safari.
Besides, commercial use of ground water resources, establishment of major hydro-electric projects and use of polythene bags by visitors along with air and vehicular movements would be closely monitored. The department has already submitted a master plan for monitoring and regulating such activities.
"In an effort to protect the green cover and cleanliness of the Lion Safari, we will also launch an awareness drive on environmental pollution. The safari will be a no plastic zone," said another senior officer.
Plans are afoot to launch battery-operated eco-friendly vehicles in the safari. "This will not only help visitors watch animals in the wild but also curb air and sound pollution," said a senior official. In order to improve cleanliness and basic hygiene in the vicinity of safari, hi-tech eco-friendly toilets would be constructed at various locations in the safari. "These toilets will be equipped with solar-panel to provide electricity," he said.
The area where Asiatic Lions will be kept is covered with trees and grass thus providing natural shade for the animal.
"Forest cover with a dense presence of thorny vilayati 'babul' (botanical name prosopis juliflora) is not the ideal place to develop a suitable habitat for Asiatic Lions," said another forest department official. "So developing something that works for the royal beast in such topography will have tremendous significance," he added.
It may be recalled that Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had recently given green signal to a Lion safari park in Fisher Forest area of Etawah district for the conservation of Asiatic Lions. Some 150 hectares in Fisher Forest on Etawah-Gwalior National Highway was acquired and notified as Lion Safari in 2005.
A budget of Rs 86 crore has already been sanctioned. June 2015 has been set as a deadline for the construction work regarding the project, sources said.

10 translocations have failed worldwide.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Jun 28, 2013, 05.22PM IST

AHMEDABAD: Not only the translocation of lions to Chandraprabha wildlife sanctuary has failed but ten other translocations across the world have also failed, the latest one being the Indian Rhino's translocation in 2013. Atleast three incidents of translocation of lions have been taken up across the world including two in India and all three have failed.
Empower Foundation, a NGO working on Sanjay Gandhi National Park's man-animal conflict, has submitted a detailed report to the Gujarat forest department highlighting why translocations should not be taken up. Jalpesh Mehta and his team have in the report "SAVE THE LION, Say no to Translocation," stated that "Empower foundation has analyzed 10 Case Studies of Translocation failures covering Elephants, Gaurs, Leopards, Rhinos, African and Asiatic Lions (From Gir to Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary in UP in 1956). These show a success rate of only 16 per cent, while the rest either return to their own region (causing major conflicts), die or are killed by locals due to severe conflicts. India has had no majorly successful translocation."

Mehta said that in 2013, 18 rhinos were shifted to Manas from Kaziranga and Pobitora. The translocation was a part of Indian Rhino Vision 2020 Programme. Poachers continued their killing and four rhinos were killed in Manas after they were translocated. Another translocation happened in 2011, where elephants were translocated from Bokakhat to Masan and the locals had killed some of the creatures.
For India's lions, three translocations have been held and all have failed. In 1904, cubs of African lions were included in Kuno and all of them were shot dead; in 1956, Gir lions were shifted to Chandraprabha and all three died due to inadequate area, lack of systematic monitoring and unrestricted movement of grazing animals.
Between 1997 and 2001, 22 lions were translocated to multiple areas and all of them returned to their original territory from where they were captured and this was due to human-wildlife conflict.
After studying various research papers and issues, "We concluded that all translocated animals will be chronically-stressed to some degree upon release. Chronic stress makes translocated animals more vulnerable to other environmental factors, and thereby amplifies the potential problems encountered when released such as succumbing to disease or predation even though they could have had a better potential to survive, reproduce and establish a self sustaining population in the wild. But a lot of factors in context to Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary are against the overall interest of the lions who will ultimately become victims of chronic stress, disease, reproductive issues and predation," said Mehta.

Chased by lions in Gujarat, 8 cows mowed down by train.

કંપાવનારી ઘટના : સાવજોથી ડરી ભાગેલી ૧૦ ગાયો ટ્રેન હેઠળ કપાઇ ગઇ
Express news service
: Rajkot, Tue Jul 02 2013, 03:56 hr

Eight cows were mowed down by a train while they were being chased by a pride of lions near Loka village, around 30 km east of Amreli, late Sunday night. The incident took place after two lionesses and a lion raided an enclosure of 36 cows near Nana Liliya village in Liliya taluka of Amreli at around 10 pm.
"Lions killed two cows in the enclosures of Atabhai Zafda and Mepabhai Arjanbhai Bharwad. As lions attacked the herd, the cows in the enclosures ran away," Jitendra Makwana, district forest officer (social forestry) of Amreli, told The Indian Express over phone on Monday.
"While one cow was killed inside the enclosure, the male lion gave chase to the terrified cows and killed one more. However, the other cows kept on running and reached Loka village. As they were running along a railway track, a goods train hit them, killing eight of them on the spot," Bharat Rathod, a forester of Liliya range, said.
After the train carnage, the rest of the cows were further terrified and kept on running. While 20 cows returned to Nana Liliya later, six of them remained missing till Monday evening. Forest officers said while Bharwad was a resident of Nana Liliya, Zafda hailed from Bhad Vankia village of Khambha taluka, some 40 km from Liliya, in Amreli. Zafda had 16 cows and had come to his relative Bharwad's place in Nana Liliya a couple of days ago in search of fodder for his cattle. Sources said while all 20 cows belonging to Bharwad had come back, those of Zafda's were missing since they were new to the area.
Forest officers further said that the two maldharis (tribal herdsmen) would get compensation only for the two cows killed by the big cats.
"The second incident was an accident and we do not have anything to do with it," the DFO said. The goods train was reportedly going towards Surendranagar from Pipavav port in Amreli. Found only in Gir forests and adjoining areas, a few Asiatic lions had migrated to Liliya taluka around a decade ago. Presently, their number in gauchar (grazing), revenue and wasteland of Liliya is stated to have gone up to 39.

Reluctant to part with lions, Gujarat moves SC.

Reluctant to part with lions, Gujarat moves SC
Endangered Asiatic lions rest at the Gir Lion Sanctuary at Sasan in Junagadh district of Gujarat. (AP photo)
NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government has moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its April 15 judgment directing translocation of a small population of Asiatic lions from their only habitat in Gir forests to Kuno Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and proposed a second home for them within Gujarat.

Reluctant to part with even a small pack from its pride of lions, the Modi government warned against translocation. "Top carnivores have never been successfully trans-located," it said in its petition.

"We propose that we may first have a programme of having a second home in the same climatic region in Gujarat as a pilot project and closely monitor the progress and learn from the exercise as to how the prides behave etc. It will have numerous advantages. In fact, it will be in tune with international guidelines," it added.

The review petition, filed through standing counsel Hemantika Wahi, said a second home within Gujarat for the Asiatic lions would be more practical as it would have similar climatic condition, topography, flora, fauna and prey base.

Dislocating a few lions from the socially well-knit prides would prove disastrous for them, the state said. "The group and pride composition and their inter-relationship in a population are governed by several factors, and any external intervention in a group by removing some of them may result into social disturbance and disintegration of group and pride. Group territoriality, group hunting and communal cub rearing form the basis of the cooperation and a strategy for their survival success," it said.

The Gujarat government said Kuno, where the lions were to be trans-located within six months of the April 15 judgment, suffered heavily at the hands of poachers. It also feared that there could be a tiger-lion conflict in Kuno.

"Recent reported sighting of tiger cubs in the Kuno region is a pointer to the existence of some tigers in the region, which is not conducive to the translocation of lions in that region, since the same would lead to niche-conflict between co-predators," the state said seeking a reconsideration of the apex court's judgment.

On April 15, a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and C K Prasad had ordered moving some lions to Kuno wildlife sanctuary, brushing aside the Modi government's passionate resistance.

The court had asked the ministry of environment and forests to take urgent steps for reintroduction of a small number of lions to Kuno from Gir on the ground that the highly-endangered species needed to be insulated from extinction, which could happen if a disease struck the small area in which they live.

The court had said the relocation exercise should be undertaken under the watch of a multi-member expert body and should be completed in six months.

Responding to Gujarat government's argument that lions should not be moved out of Gujarat, the bench had said, "No state, organization or person can claim ownership or possession over wild animals in the forest. Animals in the wild are properties of the nation for which no state can claim ownership and the state's duty is to protect wildlife and conserve it."