Friday, September 13, 2013

Man-animal conflict drives up number of rescue operations.

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN Sep 10, 2013, 06.32AM IST
AHMEDABAD: In a clear indication of the increasing pressure of wild animals in the densely populated areas surrounding their habitats, the number of rescue operations carried out show an exponential progression in Gujarat. During 2000-2001, only 47 rescue operations were conducted. The same figure for 2012-13, was 627.
Not surprisingly, most of these of rescue operations were carried out in villages of Kodinar, Veraval, Dhari, Khambha, Talala, Sutrapada and Una. These are the areas surrounding the Gir National Park and several prides of big cats have even made these villages their home.
According to the state forest department, of the 627 animals rescued in the year 2012-13, over 400 were lions and leopards. The exact number of leopards rescued in the year was 75.
The population of both lion and leopard has been increasing. In 2000, there were 327 lions in Gujarat. The 2010 census put the number at 411. The next big cat census is due in 2015.
Similarly, the number of leopards, which stood at 311 in 2001, has also crossed the 500 mark. Most of the rescue operations for leopards took place in sugarcane fields and mango orchards as these places were apparently the favourite haunts of leopards.
Senior government officials said that Gir sanctuary had a carrying capacity of only 280 lions and around 300 leopards, but with this population increase, the total area where lion were now found stood at 10,000 sq km.
The awareness among the villagers had lead to an increase in rescue operations, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) Sandeep Kumar said. "This year, 47 pythons were rescued. It's an indication that people were calling rescue teams for saving even small animals," he added.
On Monday, the officials got two calls for lion rescue. The foresters were informed that one lion had developed maggots, while the other one was limping.
Another reason for the increased number of such operations was availability of better infrastructure facilities. In 2000-01, there was only one team while today there were 16 such teams based at Mahuva, Jamwada, Jasadhar and Sutrapada, among other places.

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