Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gujarat seeks more say in expert group.

14th August 2013
Gandhinagar: The second meeting of the 12-member committee formed to decide on the lion translocation from Gir sanctuary in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh will be held on August 19. The meeting has only one agenda — a presentation by Gujarat officials on conservation of lions.
    Meanwhile, Gujarat has demanded that more members from the state be inducted into the expert group on translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat. The state is likely to send a list to the committee before the next meeting. Gujarat wants that it should be allowed to suggest the names of the persons it wants included in the group.
    “We will be suggesting names to them in the next meeting scheduled to be held on August 19. Right now there is only one member from

Gujarat in the 12-member panel,” said a state official.
    The state forests
department officials are burning the midnight oil preparing a presentation that they will be making at the meeting. “After the decision of the apex court on translocation of lion, our role is that of facilitators of the process. Our filing a review petition and these proceedings will go side by side,” said a forest official.
    “The presentation will focus more on the behavior of the lion as the experts have come to a conclusion that they would replace the male lion in
Kuno Palpur every three years and the previous male will be transferred to the zoos in the state,” the official added.
    “Besides emphasizing on the guidelines of International Union for Conservation of
    Nature (IUCN), we intend
to lay stress on other factors that have helped us in its conservation. The most important is the role of the community and its understanding of the need to conserve,” he added.
The presenta
tion would also focus on the steps taken by the government in managing the lion habitat in the state. “Today we are using the state of the art equipment in rescuing lions that require help. We are also the first in the country to have taken steps to carry out DNA profiling of the lions. This will help us investigate each and every death that takes place,” a forester said.


A leopard was found hanging from a high tension electric wire in Kodidra village of Veraval in Junagadh on Tuesday. The leopard is believed to have got electrocuted while jumping for prey.
Pg 6 TOI 14th August 2013.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Court rejects bail plea of five accused of electrocuting lion.

 Gopal Kateshiya : Rajkot, Tue Aug 13 2013, 04:04 hrs
A local court in Juangadh rejected bail application of five farmers arrested in connection with alleged electrocution of an Asiatic lion last week even as Bharatiya Kisan Sangh lodged protest with the district collector in this regard on Monday.
A magisterial court in Visavadar taluka of Junagadh district refused bail to the five farmers — Jaman Dobria, Vallabh Dobaria, Balu Dobaria, Ratial Dobaria and Jenti Dobaria. All the five are residents of Moti Monpari village of Visavadar taluka and were arrested by the forest department after the body of a lion was found stuck in a pipeline of a causeway near the village on August 6.
"The court refused them bail saying the investigation is on," said Kasuladev Ramesh, Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) of Gir West division.
Forest officers have booked the five for killing the lion. According to them, the big cat was electrocuted on the farm of Vallabh who had set a live electric wire round his farm to keep wild animals from damaging crop.
The electricity was supplied by Jaman. After they found the lion dead, Balu, Ratilal and Jenti helped the duo dump the body in the stream and made it look like an accident, the officers say. The five accused are cousins.
"We have noticed pug marks of lions on Vallabh's farm. This means the farm was frequented by the big cats but he did not remove the wire," the DCF said.
Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited (PGVCL) had snapped Jaman's agricultural power connection after forest department booked him for the lion's death.
Meanwhile, forest officers arrested one more person, identified as Chhaganbahi, on Sunday in this connection and secured his remand till August 14. Officers say that the live wire in Vallabh's farm passed through the field of Chhaganbhai. The officers have also arrested one Mavji Patodia after a Nilgai was allegedly electrocuted on his farm and got his remand for two days on Monday.
The BKS submitted a memorandum to the DC of Junagadh and demanded immediate release of Patodia and restoration of power supply to Jaman.
"Being an animal of national importance, lion should be protected at all cost. But the arrest in connection with the death of Nilgai is unjustified as there is no evidence against the arrested person. If he is not released immediately, we will sit on a dharna in front of the office of the Junagadh wildlife circle office," Uka Patodia, president of Junagadh district unit of BKS said.

Lion Rath reaches out to villagers along Gir forest.

Express news service : Rajkot, Tue Aug 13 2013, 04:00 hrs
In view of the recent spate of lion deaths, the forest department has launched an awareness drive and a Lion Rath for villagers living on the fringes of Gir forest.
Minister of State for Forest and Environment Govind Patel flagged off the Lion Rath from Sasan Gir on Sunday, after holding a meeting with top forest officers of Junagadh wildlife circle and local community leaders and village sarpanchs.
The rath, created by modifying a jeep, has flax banners, enlisting the dos and donts for villagers with respect to lions. A loudspeaker, mounted on the vehicle, sounds a pre-recorded audio message, requesting villagers for their support in conservation of lions and precautionary measures they require to take.
"We thought this is the most effective medium to reach out to local people and muster their support and cooperation. The rath will cover seven to eight villages every day and a couple of our staff members will be accompanying it for interacting with villagers," Anshuman Sharma, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) of Gir (East) division said on Tuesday.
"The plan is to take the rath through the 130-odd villages located on the border of Gir (East) forest division and create awareness among the denizens here about the wildlife and legal provisions," Sharma said. Sources said the rath would also go to villages on the borders of Gir (West) forest division and Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary .
Forest officers said the minister was in Sasan to take stock of the situation after five lions died here in the past fortnight. "Patel held a meeting with the sarpanchs, members of the eco-development committees as well as wildlife enthusiasts to seek their suggestions and listen to their grievances regarding man-animal conflict, particularly damage to crops by wild animals," a top forest officer told The Indian Express.
Incidentally, five farmers of Moti Monpari village in Visavadar taluka of Junagadh were arrested last week after a lion was allegedly electrocuted an a farm. This had drawn sharp reaction from Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.
"Sarpanchs suggested that erecting barbed wire fencing or a wall around sanctuaries or digging trenches in some areas would prevent wild animals from entering farmlands and damaging crops. They also demanded to hike in compensation for cattle killed by these wild animals. The minister also assured to look into their suggestions," the officer added.
In the past 15 days, three deaths were reported from the Gir (West) division, while one reportedly died in the Gir (East) division. The fifth was reported from Krakach in Amreli district on Sunday.

Wildlife bill gives tiger lion's share of protection.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Aug 10, 2013, 06.27AM IST
AHMEDABAD: There are more than 1,800 tigers in the country today. In contrast, there are just 411 Asiatic lions, all of them in Gujarat. Yet the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill-2013 that was introduced in the RajyaSabha on August 5 includes special provisions for conservation of tiger but little for the king of the jungle. The Asiatic lions have been dumped in the list of 'other wildlife,' without mention of any specific measures for their conservation.
This has left lion experts miffed, as they feel that lions also need to be protected. Since amendments to the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 is being introduced to curb the growing trade in animal parts in the international market, sidelining lion conservation may expose the animal to poachers. The amendment bill was introduced in view of the rise in wildlife crime and after taking into consideration the recommendations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The bill proposes more stringent laws but the Centre has once again neglected to consider lions on a par with tigers in the country. Officials said that in 2007, when there was stringent checking at tiger reserves, the poachers turned towards Gujarat and killed eight lions. It was established during investigation that the lion bones were sold as tiger bones in the international market.
The bill mentions the Gujarat lions in the list of wildlife but it does not include provisions for lion conservation, as it does for the tiger. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed both the Asiatic lion and the Indian tiger in the same category -- endangered species. While Gujarat is the only home of the lion - this limits the spread of its gene pool - the tiger is found in 17 states of the country.
Section 51 (6) of the said bill states: "Where the offense relates to hunting in a tiger reserve or altering the boundaries of a tiger reserve, such offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than five lakh rupees but which may extend to thirty lakh rupees."
Section 51 (5), which deals with sanctuaries for other animals, including lions, states: "Where the offense relates to hunting in a Sanctuary or a National Park or altering the boundaries of a Sanctuary or a National Park, such offense shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than five lakh rupees but which may extend to twenty-five lakh rupees."
Additional chief conservator of forests and lion expert H S Singh says, "The priority of the Centre is the tiger. Lions are never given equal weightage. There is need for the same provisions for lions and tigers. The Centre has not done much for the conservation of lions; even the funds granted are not adequate. The global success of lion conservation cannot be attributed in the slightest to the Centre."
Dr Divya Bhanusingh Chavda, an expert and member of the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife, says, "I have not gone through the provisions of the new bill. But why just lions and tigers? All wildlife in the endangered and critically endangered category should be given equal provisions."
What is Pantheraleopersica?
The amendment bill does not mention all the species by their common names; instead, it uses their zoological names. In the entire bill, the Asiatic lion is referred to as Panthera leo persica. Officials said that the bill does mention tigers as tigers but when it comes to other species, it mentions them by their scientific names. Wildlife activists say that local policemen handling wildlife crime cases are unlikely to look up a dictionary to establish whether a protected animal had been harmed. In such cases, the accused would go scot-free simply because the police did not know the zoological names of the animals concerned.

Farmer arrested for lion's electrocution in Junagadh.

TNN Aug 8, 2013, 12.49AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Forest department has arrested a farmer after investigation into the incident of a lion's carcass found from a causeway in MotiMonpari village of Junagadh revealed that the wild cat was actually killed by electrocution.
Jaman Dobaria, the farmer, had laid live wires from a near-by transformer using wooden blocks in his groundnut field. Deputy conservator of forest, Gir west, Kasuladev Ramesh said, "These wires are used to keep the wild animals away. The lion came in contact with the live wire and died."
The police are also searching for two other persons who allegedly assisted Dobaria in laying the live wires.
On Tuesday, forest officials had received a call that a lion's carcass was stuck in the pipeline of a causeway. The pipeline was used to flow out excess water. They pulled out the body and found that all the organs and nails were intact.
During investigation, they also found pug marks and strands of lion hair in the nearby field, which led to the suspicion that the lion could have been killed.
A massive search operation was carried out with the help of police state electricity company officials. "This is the time of sowing and to save the fields from animals, many farmers resort to illegal methods of passing electric current to keep the animals away. Sometimes lions also get trapped and electrocuted."
Forensic Science Laboratory team also found a black mark on the lion's skin, which indicated electrocution.
Ramesh said that they also recovered a grid which had live wires and were connected to the nearby transformer.
Officials said that this year because of good rains there has been bumper sowing in the area and hence such incidents are likely to rise. The farmers will resort to such illegal practices to save their crop from neelgai, wild boar and other wild animals. He said that the lion too would fall prey to such live wires.

Farmer electrocutes lion to death near Gir forest.

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 07, 2013, 22:33
Vadodara: An Asiatic lion was electrocuted to death allegedly by a farmer in Moti Monpuri village in Visavad taluka of Junagadh district within the Gir forest range, Deputy Conservator of Forests, West Division, Gir Forest, K Ramesh said.

"The farmer, Jamanbhai Dobariya, has been arrested under the Wildlife Act and will be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours," Ramesh said, adding that the electrocution took place a couple of days ago when the lion strayed into an electrically-charged wire.

After the lion was electrocuted, his dead body was dragged into a cement causeway near the road. Due to heavy rains in the region, it took a couple of days to learn about it, Ramesh said, adding that it came to light only when he was patrolling in the area.

He said it took a couple of hours to bring out the lion's body from a cement pipe under which it was stuck.

It was found in decomposed state and samples were sent to the Forensic Laboratory (FSL) at Junagadh. The FSL report has indicated that its died due to electrocution, he said.

After this, forest department teams, police and electricity company officials, carried out massive combing operations to find out the killer, which took them to Dobariya's farm from where pugmarks and other body parts of the electrocuted lion, were recovered, he said.

The possibility of two other suspects being involved in the electrocution of the lion cannot be ruled out, he said.

Further investigations are on, he said.


Lioness Laxmi's lucky five.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Aug 6, 2013, 03.20AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Five seems to be the lucky number for Laxmi. This three-year-old lioness in Gir has given birth to a litter of five. Interestingly, Laxmi herself was one of a litter of five born to lioness named Shyama.
At her age, Laxmi should usually be learning the tricks of hunting, but she is already a mother and playing the role with tremendous ease. She is taking good care of the cubs and is protecting them from all kinds of threats of jungle life.
On May 17, 2013, Laxmi gave birth to five cubs in Gir Interpretation Zone at Devaliya in Sasan Gir. The cubs are now 75 days old and weigh between 3.5 kg and 4 kg. The cubs have begun to supplement the mother's milk with meat as they have already developed teeth. "This is a remarkable feat as normally a lioness gives birth to 2 to 3 cubs and it is rather rare for all the cubs to survive. Laxmi deserves praise for her mothering skills well proved by the thriving brood," said a forest officer.
Gujarat's chief wildlife warden C N Pandey said, "Laxmi has inherited good genes. She was borne on May 3, 2010, at Sakkarbaug Zoo, Junagadh to lion Daksh and lioness Shyama. However, her mother Shyama could raise only three of them. The rest died in their infancy. Laxmi has been able to achieve a record."
"A lioness can feed only four cubs at a time. But Laxmi has been able to work around this biological limitation. This example illustrate that Asiatic lions are genetically strong and competent," said Pandey. "The forest department continues to play a leading role in biodiversity conservation through dedicated management and support to nature with skill and care. It is crucial that each and every individual of an endangered species is protected with proper skills and capability."
"Birth to five cubs in a litter is extremely rare," an official of the department said.
"We were not sure if Laxmi would be able to raise all five cubs. But she was to make a record in the known history of Asiatic lion management. Laxmi, supported by the forest department staff, she has been able to ensure that all of her cubs survive," the official said.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2nd case of lion drowning in 3 days.

Photo by Dilip Jiruka
AHMEDABAD: A lion drowned near MotiMonpari village in the Visavadar area on Tuesday; this is the second instance of a lion drowning in Gujarat in just three days.

Heavy rains have made rivers and causeways overflow, rendering lions' environs perilous.

On Tuesday, forest officials received a call about a lion's body being stuck in the pipe of a causeway. The pipe is meant to drain excess water. A rescue team reached Monpari River flowing near the Moti Monpari village. As the body was pulled out, officials noted that externally the body seemed intact. Officials said that later the post-mortem examination was carried out. But since the body had been submerged for nearly 24 hours, the organs were in no position to be examined and hence they were sent to the forensic science laboratory in Gandhinagar for further investigation.

As for the earlier instance of drowning, the carcass of a lioness believed to be around five or six years old was found from a lake in Alidar village of Junagadh's Kodinar taluka, on Monday. Sources said that villagers noticed the carcass floating in Pinchli Lake and informed the forest department officials. The lioness was removed from the lake. Officials said that the body was bloated and it is believed that the lioness may have died a few days earlier. It is also likely that the lioness was swept away in the local river in the Jamwala area of Gir which was flooded due to the incessant downpour last week.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Say 'no' to Kuno: Wildlife activists.

(The Supreme Court is yet…)
Linah Baliga, TNN Aug 4, 2013, 10.41PM IST
MUMBAI: The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as SasanGir) is believed to be the last residence for last 400 Asiatic lions over this earth. Gir proved not only just a home to these majestic Lions, but as a paradise to them. Had it been the terrain, vegetation, climate, or medical care, Gir always stood the best for them. It's not only the Gujarat government, but even the people of Gujarat has shown much affection towards these lions. To people of Gujarat, Gir Lions are like members of their family. Gir has always stood the "However, the decision for translocation of Gir Lions to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary (MP) has been thrown over everyone and precisely the animals there in. The decision slapped down not only Gujarat government but also all the Wildlife lovers and conservationists. While Indian Govt. claims this plan to be the most needful and call of the hour which would offer the Gir Lions more space to expand their prides, on the other hand paved the path for the wild Lions to end up in hell i.e. Zoo. While the whole world is protesting against captivating wild animals, we Indians are denoting this act as beneficial?" said Jalpesh Mehta, NGO, Empower Foundation.