Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The urban jungle.

By: | December 14, 2014 1:27 am

Singapore is not just a place to go wild in while shopping. You can also just go wild. Literally

PICTURE THIS. It’s 9 pm and pitch dark. You turn the bend in the road and come upon the most magnificent sight in the world. A full-grown lion standing on a rock, a pose straight out of Lion King. No other animal in the wild provides the viewer with that mixture of awe and reverence. This one is an Asiatic Lion, surrounded by a jungle, where artfully-placed spotlights accentuate his imperious majesty. He may be the king of the jungle, but, in this case, it is an urban jungle. We are in the heart of Singapore, or at least its lung, a green zone in one corner of the city, where Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) operates the Night Safari, a tour that embraces some 2,500 nocturnal creatures. Most people who visit Singapore prefer to go wild in the malls lining Orchard Road, but amid all that soaring concrete and glass, it’s almost surreal to come upon such a large expanse of jungle and such a vast collection of animals, many endangered. The WRS follows the modern trend of displaying animals in naturalist, ‘open’ enclosures with hidden barriers and moats, and not cages or bars. Which is why the lion also generates a twinge of fear. It seems barely 20 ft away, and the first thought is that in a single leap, it can reach where you are standing, and 9 pm must be dinnertime. Draw closer and you notice the hidden moat and the fencing cloaked in greenery and bushes. You also notice the sign, ‘Sponsored by State Bank of India’!
The WRS was given land and funded initially by the Singapore government, but is now a private limited company, so it needs to manage its finances and one way is to get inmates sponsored. “We are self-funded, so we need to find partners, organisations and institutions, who share our vision to protect local and global biodiversity,” says Shaiful Rizal, senior executive, corporate communications. The WRS is the holding company of the Night Safari, the adjoining Singapore Zoo, the Jurong Bird Park and the River Safari. It takes a couple of days to cover all four attractions, but the Night Safari is a must-do, and not just for wildlife enthusiasts. For one, it is the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Unlike traditional nocturnal houses, which reverse the day-night cycle of animals so they will be active by day, the Night Safari is an open-air zoo set in a humid tropical forest that only opens at night. Roaming around in the dark adds to an authentic outdoor wildlife experience. Every enclosure is spotlit to resemble moonlight and the 35 hectares of secondary forest is home to over 130 animal species, of which 38% are endangered, including the clouded leopard. You can walk, but not unless you are superfit and certainly not if you are with kids, for whom it is truly a wide-eyed adventure. A majority of the 1.1 million annual visitors make use of the electric-powered tram that takes you through the seven geographical regions, from the Himalayan foothills to the jungles of south-east Asia. Here, the lion may be the king, but there are also Malayan tigers and tapirs, elephants, hippos, rhinos, crocodiles and other big cats, all in enclosures designed to match their natural habitats, while there are no barriers between the tamer animals and visitors. Like the Wallaby Trail, which recreates the Australian Outback complete with free-ranging wallabies in their walk-through habitat, or the Leopard Trail, which is more popular. Cattle grids prevent hoofed animals from moving from one habitat to another, but the real attraction is being so close to the animals, and yet at a safe distance. In fact, the greater danger comes from the excitable crowds with their extendable selfie rods. As befitting a private enterprise, there are souvenir shops and F&B outlets so you can enjoy a Bongo Burger before you head out or check in at the Zebra Cafe in the middle of the forest to have a drink or a snack. If you prefer, you can even order a gourmet dinner on board the tram. Feasting your eyes on wildlife while feasting will be a unique experience for most.
If a daytime safari is more suitable, Singapore Zoo is around the corner. Skip breakfast in the hotel and opt for the Jungle Breakfast at the zoo’s Ah Meng restaurant, where in one corner of this 26-hectare rainforest, you can wolf down your eggs and toast while a bunch of orangutans slide down from the trees within touching distance, close enough for you to feed them. You can also opt to stroke a python—quite safe actually. The zoo gets 1.7 million visitors annually so it’s a popular attraction for tourists, largely because of the open concept. Star attractions are the Asian elephants, the playful baboons, the reptile garden, with the deadly-looking Komodo dragon and a variety of snakes and giant tortoises, polar bears, kangaroos you can actually get up close and personal with, the free-ranging orangutans and their acrobats and the Cat Country section, where the big cats roam free, including a white tiger, lions and leopards. An insider tip is to try and be there when it’s feeding time, and all the animals emerge from their caves and natural cover. There are professional trainers and guides everywhere so you won’t get lost and they will even help you feed animals like the white rhino and giraffes. There are 2,800 animals and it can be quite exhausting, but there are trams and buggies available and restaurants and cafes inside the zoo as well, so you won’t go hungry, or thirsty. Those thirsting for knowledge about wildlife, mainly kids, have access to a Wildlife Learning Centre and a visit to the on-site Healthcare Centre, where animals are treated, operated on and where the babies are born.
Easily the most immersive WRS experience is at the Jurong Bird Park, Asia’s largest, which has over 5,000 birds across 400 species. Like the others, there are huge free-flight aviaries, which recreate the natural habitat of birds from all over the world. The most spectacular is the Lory Loft, featuring 15 species of this colourful bird, native to Australia. There are suspended bridges here, where you can walk holding out saucers of seeds and the birds will be literally eating out of your hand. Penguins and pelicans are among the most popular, the latter visible in the world’s first underwater viewing gallery, where you can see them swooping down to catch fish at the feeding time. Even more applause-inspiring is to catch predators like falcons and hawks swooping down on their prey at the High Flyers Show at the Pools Amphitheatre or learn the art of falconry at the Kings of the Skies show at Hawk Walk. Buggy rides are the way to go here as well, and the driver/guide will offer a running commentary on species and special attractions.
For a grand finale, check out the latest WRS attraction, the River Safari, which opened last October. It houses 6,000 freshwater, river-dwelling animals, land and aquatic, one of the largest collections in the world. It, too, is designed to recreate freshwater habitats from the most iconic rivers of the world, from the Amazon to the Nile, the Mississippi and the Mekong, as well as the Ganges. River Safari is a misnomer since 85% of the park’s inhabitants can be viewed on foot, in aquariums and walk-through exhibits. The star is the Mekong giant catfish, which can grow up to 3 m in length and nearly 300 kg in weight. Even larger is the giant freshwater stingray, the world’s largest and heaviest freshwater fish, up to 5 m in length and 600 kg in weight, once thought to be extinct. Equally giant-sized is the Amazon Flooded Forest, which has the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, housing some incredible-looking fish, including the legendary Manatee and the Arapaima. The true rockstars in the giant stakes at Jurong, however, are at the Yangtze River section: Kai Kai and Jia Jia, a pair of giant pandas who can be seen at the Giant Panda Forest, simulating their natural habitat. This temperature-controlled area is also home to the more playful red panda and the striking-looking golden pheasant. There’s even a panda-themed restaurant, Mama Panda Kitchen, to end your wildlife tour at. It’s well worth a visit, if only to taste the famous ‘Panda Paus’, a sweet bun, which comes shaped like the face of a panda with chocolate chips for eyes. Even the coffee here arrives with a panda artfully sketched on top. For wildlife lovers, the WRS tour is absolutely sensational, and a pleasant change from the crocodile skins and furs to be found in the luxury aquariums on Orchard Road.

Asiatic Lions in Gir Facing Threat From Poachers: Government.

Asiatic Lions in Gir Facing Threat From Poachers: Government
Representational Image
New Delhi Asiatic lions in Gujarat's Gir forests are facing threat from poachers, government today said quoting a study by a wildlife monitoring agency.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also informed Rajya Sabha that "there is a persistent challenge" for conservation of leopards in view of high ongoing seizure rate averaging 3.5 cases of seizures related to leopard per month since 2000.

The seizure rate has been assessed by analysing the database developed by TRAFFIC (an international organisation), which is based on news reports and government records, he said.

"The report also indicates threat to the population of African lion as well as to the only population of Asiatic lion, found in India, due to illegal trade in lion body parts for medicinal purposes," the minister said in a written reply.
Cities | Press Trust of India | Updated: December 11, 2014 18:42 IST

MP, Tamil Nadu record highest number of tiger deaths in 2014.

Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, December 30, 2014
With the death of 15 tigers in Madhya Pradesh in 2014, the state has recorded the highest tiger mortality in India along with Tamil Nadu.
This is not good news for the state, especially at a time when MP government is claiming to be making efforts to reclaim the 'tiger state' tag, which it lost to Karnataka in 2010. On December 24, MP tourism minister Surendra Patwa had admitted that losing the tag had affected the state's tourism sector to some extent. 
MP's tiger deaths amount to 22% of India's total tiger mortality this year, reveals the data of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
Overall, 2014 has not been a good year for big cats in MP. As compared to nine tiger deaths in 2013, 15 tigers have died in the state because of various reasons ranging from natural death, infighting, radio-collar infection and poaching, in 2014.
According to the figures of Tigernet, the official database on tiger mortality in India, which is maintained by NTCA, of the total 64 tiger deaths reported in India in 2014, 14 are from MP. With the death of a white tiger in Indore recently, the toll has reached 15.
Of the 15 tiger deaths, six have been reported from Bandhavgarh alone. Over the years, many tigers have died in Bandhavgarh, mostly due to territorial fights and poaching, leaving wildlife experts and activists worried about the future of the animals, in what is considered among the safest sanctuaries for tigers in India. This has prompted the NTCA to ask its regional office in Nagpur to look into the cause of growing tiger deaths in Bandhavgarh.
MP's chief wildlife warden Narendra Kumar attributes the highest tiger mortality due to natural reasons and territorial fights. "Apart from these reasons, there have been some cases like poaching by electrocution, death due to radio collar infection and so on, which are being investigated," he said.

Marking territory.

UP lion safari waits for new additions next year.

UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s dream project, the Lion Safari in Etawah, is getting ready to welcome new additions to the lion family.
A forest team has been sent to Gir Forest in Gujarat for training and preparations are underway at Lion Safari to provide conducive environment for mating of two pairs of Asiatic Lions. The team will also learn ways to take care of cubs.
“Mating between Manan and Kumari, pair of Asiatic lions, has already taken place. Now, we are in the process of pairing other pairs, Kuber and Greeshma, and Gigo and Heer,” said the divisional forest officer of the Lion Safari in Etawah.
The news of pairing between Manan and Kumari has led to excitement in the state forest department, which had received a major jolt after the death of lion Vishnu and lioness Lakshmi in the safari due to a mysterious disease.
Mr K.K. Singh, director Lion Safari, said, “We have started monitoring these lions and have asked keepers and veterinarians to be extra vigilant. We are not taking any chances in protecting them from any infection. Only the keepers are permitted to go near the lioness and we are tracking her movements after the mating.”
Mr Singh said that if the pregnancy of the lioness is confirmed in the coming days, the safari would be ready to welcome the lion cubs by March next year.
The forest team sent to the Gir forests will take lessons in rearing the cubs since lionesses, at times, do not react positively to their own offspring. “We should be prepared to learn all the hand rearing skills so that they can properly nurture them and take good care of cubs,” the official said.

Efforts being made for mating of Asiatic Lions pairs at Lions Safari in Etawah.

Kanpur: Preparations are underway at Lion Safari in Etawah to provide a conducive environment for mating of two pairs of Asiatic Lions. A forest team has been sent by experts to Gir Forest in Gujarat for training. The team will learn ways to take care of cubs.

Authorities at the Lion Safari meanwhile have started making efforts to increase population of endangered species of lion. "Mating between Manan and Kumari had already taken place. Now, we are in the process of pairing Kuber and Greeshma and Gigo and Heer, the other two pairs of Asiatic Lions, and are hoping the females will mate with their resident males," said Divisional Forest Officer, Lion Safari, Etawah.
The Lion Safari authorities also exude confidence about lioness Kumari, and said they hope that the population of big cat is all set to grow by March 2015. "If Kumari gets pregnant, then we expect it to give birth to its cub in March 2015," informed a Lion Safari official further.

The news of pairing between Manan and Kumari has thrilled the state forest department, which received a major jolt after the death of Vishnu and Lakshmi (a pair of Asiatic lions) recently.

"We have started monitoring these wild cats and has asked keepers and veterinarians to be extra vigilant," informed KK Singh, director Lion Safari. Taking no chance, the Lion Safari authorities have permitted entry to the `house' only to the keepers who are monitoring each activity of the Kumari, sources in the Lion Safari said. It is a positive news for us after the death of Vishnu and Lakshmi. "During pregnancy, female moves slowly. We are tracking its movements on regular basis to confirm its pregnancy," said another forest department official.

But the authorities said that they know there's a lot that could go wrong. "Even if the birth itself goes smoothly, we do not know how lion or lioness will react to their offspring. Some lions don't react well. Keeping this in mind, we hope, the team, which has been sent to Gir Forest to learn all the hand rearing skills so that they can properly nurture them and take good care of cubs."

Listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) was once widely distributed across southwest Asia.

*Some 150.83 hectares of land in Fisher Reserve Forest area on Etawah-Gwalior National Highway was acquired and notified as lion safari in the year 2005.

*It was shelved by the Mayawati government in 2007. It was again revived after Samajwadi Party came back to power in March 2012.

*The Union ministry of environment and forests approved the master layout plan of the project in December 2012.

*The state government had sanctioned Rs 89 crore for the Lion Safari project and authorised the Uttar Pradesh Awas Vikas Parishad for construction and execution of the safari.

*Four pairs of Asiatic Lions have already been brought to Lucknow Zoo and Kanpur Zoo from Hyderabad zoo and Rajkot and Sakkarbaug zoos in Gujarat.

*Vishnu and Lakshmi, one of the four pairs brought from Hyderabad zoo, died recently after coming in contact with serious disease.

*June 2015 has been set as a deadline for the construction work regarding the project.

3 lions overthrow 2 kings in Gir coup.

Wildlife lovers have joined hands to give the lion king of Gir some peace and quietness.
AHMEDABAD: Three sub-adult lions in the Gir sanctuary have carried out a coup in the jungle and have dethroned their rulers. These sub-adults — aged between three and four years — have conquered a huge territory right in the middle of the tourist zone.

The three, all kids of the same father but of different lionesses, ganged up against a couple of 10-year-old lions, vanquished them and drove them out of their territory. Now the trio rules over four groups of lions consisting of six lionesses and several cubs.

Senior officials from the forest department who have documented the takeover say that even today the two exiled lions visit the territory every now and then. Sandeep Kumar, the deputy conservator of forests, who is keeping a watch on proceedings along with field officials, says that the new rulers are moving in on other prides as well."The behavioral change in Asiatic lions related to the optimization of male reproductive period, association among males, enhanced physical and reproductive fitness, and better survival rate are all manifestations of broad genetic base," Kumar says. "The three took over the territory from lions which were strong enough. Two of the tree lions had first made an attempt to attack the older kings." But when they found the two adult males to be tough opponents, the third sub-adult was brought in as reinforcement. The three now share six lionesses for mating. Usually a lion is ready for mating at the age of three but the first mating takes place only after a territory is conquered.

"Gir forest earlier had one lion capturing territory, but later the social fabric changed and with the male population growing, two lions began capturing territories and even sharing lionesses for mating," Kumar says. He said that three lions taking over a pride at a very young age represented a rare wildlife event.

H S Singh, a member of the national board of wildlife and a former IFS officer, says: "Usually lions capture territory at the age of five and it is normally two sub-adults who become kings. I would say that this new capture is abnormal behavior as these lions have captured territory despite their age."

Is a lion on the prowl in Bengaluru?

Is a lion on the prowl in Bengaluru?
A collage of screenshots from the WhatsApp video in which the lion appears to be roaming around freely on a highway
A video posted on WhatsApp has gone viral showing a lion on the prowl on Bengaluru streets - in Devanahalli near Kempegowda International Airport.

The footage has been taken a few days ago from a moving car which follows the lion even as the carnivore leisurely walks ahead before escaping in the darkness. The big question now is this: Is it actually a lion; a doctored video; or is it Bengaluru at all? The lion in the video certainly looks every bit a lion, and the streets resemble ones in Bengaluru, although the video is hazy.

Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) officials too have watched the video. But they doubt that any lion could be out there on Bengaluru roads. The reason they think it is impossible is that the closest place where the lion could have come from is BBP - which is situated on the diametrically opposite side of the city, with 60 kms between them.

For the lion to reach the other side of the city, it should have encountered densely populated city areas, and at least someone should have come face to face with the beast to set off a panic alarm. There would have been citywide mayhem had that happened. And certainly, it would be ridiculous to think a lion can come all the way from Gir forest of Gujarat without being spotted midway.

IFS officer and conservator of forests, Rame Gowda, said BBP has about 50 lions which are strictly accounted for.

"It is difficult for them to escape and come on Bengaluru streets. The video is hazy but it looks like an African lion, not an Asiatic lion. The latter have larger manes. The lions in Bannerghatta are mostly crossbreeds. So, they are ruled out. The same video has been circulated in Mumbai saying the lion was actually spotted at Western Express Highway near Ghodbunder Road, Thane.

However, even officials in Mumbai have denied any lion escaping from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Panthera Leo Perfidy.

Vikram Jit Singh , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh , December 13, 2014
The 34-second video of two Asiatic lionesses (Panthera leo persica) that sent tremors through Panchkula on December 9 after going viral on WhatsApp was not fake but one misrepresented by posting it on social media as night footage shot at Panchkula.
A mischievous person had lifted the video from YouTube. The video is a real one and was originally posted on December 2 by ‘Divya Bhaskar’ under the title, ‘Lion on road at Bhavnath mandir, Junagadh’. This video was then passed on Panchkula-based WhatsApp groups with the declaration that it had been shot in Sector 21.
Evidently, the mischief mongerer’s timing took advantage of the leopard attack near Raipurrani on December 2 injuring four Bhadauna villagers, and the ‘popular and media perception’ prevailing since that the Haryana wildlife department had miserably failed to trap the offending leopard.
In that clouded context, the lioness’s video spurred alarmed residents to circulate warnings not to venture out of their homes and stop kids from going to school. The location of the video changed with the rising tide of panic. Residents started to claim the video was from Sectors 2, 4, 5 and 6, Panchkula.
Photo Caption : A grab from the lioness' video on YouTube.
The department was again pressed into action to locate the lionesses and its personnel searched far and wide. But fact is that lions are not found here and their natural habitat is Gujarat. The remote possibility was that the lionesses had escaped from Chhatbir zoo or from the illegal captivity of a private person. Lions have been removed from circuses and sent to rescue centres long back so there is little chance of this as the source of the wandering lionesses.
“The zoo’s chief veterinarian Dr MP Singh informed me that the only lioness with the zoo was safe and sound and right in front of him when I rang him up to cross-check! We surveyed the entire area of Sector 20/21. The kind of interlock-tiled road divider and the arrow markings on the road divider were not to be found in Panchkula.

The lack of bougainvillea bushes on the divider (so characteristic of Panchkula’s roads) was another indication. We could not find the jungle, dug-up area parallel to the road, and the red and blue ‘rehri’ shown in the video. This established the video as a mischievous act aimed at terrorising people and harassing department personnel,’’ Panchkula Wildlife Inspector Jaibir Singh told this writer.

Sukhna mein dukh 
The Sukhna lake’s waters have been merrily lapping at the higher steps along the walkway for the last two years. This abundance may be eye-candy for tourists, walkers and certain UT departments. But lurking in the murky, silt-laden depths is some bad news for creatures whose presence is registered by way of rising air bubbles, ripples or an occasional, spectacular, silvery splash by bigger specimens. Or, for that matter, the rotting remains of fish mass mortality gobbled greedily by birds on the lake’s banks.
The latest research undertaken on the lake’s fish diversity has reported a shortfall of 13 species as compared to 32 species recorded in 2005-2006. Researcher Veerpal Kaur of the Panjab University’s Department of Zoology (DoZ) has been capturing fish under permission since June 2012 as part of her Ph.D. thesis. Specimens have also been collected from anglers. The final phase of the netting was carried out between December 8-12 using the services of hired fisherman, Shatrughan, from Muzzafarpur, Bihar.
In June 2012, the use of large gillnets had been allowed by the UT Fisheries department for research and boats were used to catch species. In the December 2014 research netting, only castnets were allowed along the banks by fickle-minded Fisheries officials on the flimsy pretext that conspicious use of large nets would encourage anglers and poachers to also resort to the same! However, castnets are limited by their reach, size and technique, and get damaged due to litter and ‘pooja’ debris prevalent in the lake’s waters.
The PU’s project, ‘Control of aquatic weeds, physico-chemical parameters and biodiversity of Sukhna Lake’, was sanctioned by the Department of Environment, Chandigarh, to Prof. MS Johal and Dr. YK Rawal from the DoZ for two years (2012-’14) with an approved cost of Rs. 9.9 lakh. “The project was aimed at suggesting measures to save the lake. The primary findings of the project indicate that number of fish species has declined to just 19.
The drying up of the lake (in 2012) played havoc with overall fish diversity, which has been further complicated by growth of aquatic weeds. The growing load of silt added to the problem. The only way to save the lake is to control silt and periodically remove weeds,’’ said Dr. Rawal.
He says the significant species that have gone missing are of ‘Danio’; of cat fishes like Aorichthys seenghala, Heteropneustes fossilis, Wallago attu; and species of ‘Channa’.

Asiatic lions in Gir facing threat from poachers: Govt.

Last Updated: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 18:53
Asiatic lions in Gir facing threat from poachers: Govt
New Delhi: Asiatic lions in Gujarat's Gir forests are facing threat from poachers, government Thursday said quoting a study by a wildlife monitoring agency.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also informed Rajya Sabha that "there is a persistent challenge" for conservation of leopards in view of high ongoing seizure rate averaging 3.5 cases of seizures related to leopard per month since 2000.
The seizure rate has been assessed by analysing the database developed by TRAFFIC (an international organisation), which is based on news reports and government records, he said.
"The report also indicates threat to the population of African lion as well as to the only population of Asiatic lion, found in India, due to illegal trade in lion body parts for medicinal purposes," the minister said in a written reply.

First Published: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 18:53

2 Asian lion cubs born at Night Safari.

Lioness Jimmy, the last big cat of Byculla Zoo, dies.

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 
Last Updated at 21:50 IST
Jimmy, a 16-year-old lioness in Jijamata Udyan, a zoo at Byculla in central Mumbai, died today after prolonged illness, an official said.

The African-Asiatic hybrid lioness, which was the only big cat in the zoo, had been removed from public display and shifted to the zoo hospital a couple of years back, after she suffered paralysis and osteoarthritis.

"We had shifted the lioness to the zoo hospital after she was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. In this condition, both her hind legs had stopped responding due to paralysis and osteoarthritis," Anil Anjankar, director of Jijamata Zoo told PTI.

Jimmy was born at the same zoo to African lion Amar and Asiatic lioness Anita on March 28, 1998, he added.

According to the official, it will be another year before a new lion is brought to the zoo.

"Lions, tigers and leopards are known to attract many visitors. We have got approval for an Asiatic lion. The layout is also ready, but that will take at least another year to come," he said.

Lions generally live for 15-20 years, Anjankar said.

Always wanted to own a lion? Helsinki zoo will let you name one.

News |

Helsinki’s Korkeasaari Zoo is inviting name proposals for three Asiatic lion cubs born at the zoo earlier this year. Officials have decided that the animals’ names should begin with the letter G. They’re also hoping that suggestions will reference the cubs’ homeland in northeast India or their distinctive attributes.

Leijonanpentu urosleijonan kimpussa Korkeasaaren eläintarhassa.
The cub triplets love to play hunting games with their siblings and parents. Image: Korkeasaari
Animal keepers at Korkeasaari Zoo are providing cat- and animal-lovers a unique opportunity to provide names for three majestic Asiatic lion cubs born in Helsinki last spring. All animals born at the zoo this year will have names that begin with the letter G – this includes the lion triplets.
In reaching out to the public for help naming the cubs, zoo officials have provided two main guidelines: they should either call to mind the animals’ natural environment in northeast India or their distinct physical characteristics.
Zookeepers say that the now eight month-old rascals are full of energy and are all equally strong. They are also beginning to display rudimentary hunting skills as they play, stalking their parents, each other and even zoo visitors and workers who pass by their enclosure.
The lions first came to Korkeasaari in 1992 as gifts of the Indian government. The zoo is now the proud keeper of three adults and the three cubs. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Asiatic lion as an endangered species due to their small numbers in the wiild.
Zoo officials will accept name suggestions for the cubs up to January 6, 2015.

No sign of Gir transfer, MP seeks to shift zoo lions to Kuno.

BHOPAL: A year after Madhya Pradesh won an eight-year legal battle with Gujarat government to translocate a few Gir lions to its Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government seems to have given up hope of getting the prized predators and is now looking to have zoo lions from the south released into the sanctuary.

The state government has decided to translocate Hyderabad-bred Asiatic lions to the Kuno reserve in Sheopur district, instead of waiting for the Gir lions, whose relocation was opposed by Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

Gir is the only place in the world where the Asiatic lion survives in the wild. The idea behind the Kuno-Palpur project was to raise a buffer population of wild lions as an insurance against epidemics or natural disasters wiping out the Gir lions.
As CM, Modi had refused to entertain any request from the Chouhan government to shift the lions till the apex court on April 15, 2013, set a six-month deadline to the environment ministry to relocate the predators to Kuno. The court held that the species was under the threat of extinction and needed a second home. But the court's order has not been followed.

Government sources in Hyderabad told TOI that the MP forest department had approached them asking for pure breed Asiatic lions, bred in captivity, for the Kuno reserve.

Asked about the move, state chief wildlife warden Narendra Kumar said, "It would be too early to comment." Other senior forest officers in the state, however, confirmed they have decided to shift lions from Hyderabad zoo to Madhya Pradesh.

But the Kuno project might take time to kick off, following global concern over the recent death of the Asiatic lion pair — Lakshmi and Vishnu — at Etawah's lion safari in Uttar Pradesh. The two zoo-bred lions died within a month of relocation from Hyderabad, said sources. Both suffered 'multiple infections', including viral infection that caused paralysis. The Etawah safari was a pet project of the Samajwadi Party government, which started two months ago. The lions were brought to Kanpur zoo from Hyderabad in April, 2013, and shifted to Etawah safari in September 2014.

(MP has sought zoo-bred Asiatic lions from Hyderabad.)

In May, the MP government sent its second reminder to the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) to take urgent measures to shift lions from Gujarat to Kuno. More reminders were sent to additional director general (ADG) wildlife, (MoEF), who heads the 12-member committee formed to execute the translocation.

The move to relocate big cats, first mooted in 2000, had been hanging fire because Gujarat steadfastly refused to part with the majestic lions.

Times View

The reported move to release zoo-bred lions in the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary neither makes sense from the conservation standpoint nor would it be safe for the translocated animals. It's well documented that animals bred in captivity do not adapt well in the wild. Moreover, the idea behind Kuno-Palpur was to have a second home for Gir lions so that epidemics and natural disasters do not finish off this last surviving wild population of Asiatic lions. The Supreme Court has turned down Gujarat's curative plea against the transfer of Gir lions to the sanctuary. The MP government should be asking for the court's orders to be implemented, instead of thinking up such disastrous schemes.

Asiatic lion may continue to be in endangered category.

AHMEDABAD: The Asiatic lion, which is listed in endangered category in red list released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), will continue to be critically endangered as the population of breeding male and female has not crossed 500. The last census has 411 population and the next census due next year will have around 500 lions, including the cubs.
It was in 2011 that the report of the IUCN based on 2008 field survey and the 2005 census has stated that the Asiatic lion exists as a single isolated population in Gujarat, numbering approximately 175 mature individuals, all occurring within one sub-population (but in four separate areas, three of which are outside the Gir forest protected area).
Since the population now extends beyond the boundary of the lion sanctuary, and the numbers are stable, the sub-species is listed as endangered based simply on the population size.
Officials said that as per the other criteria the lion population was increasing, they were found in separate areas and hence it qualified to be in the vulnerable category. But just because the population was 411 as per the 2010 census, the lion was listed in endangered category.
Officials said that Asiatic lion will continue to be in the endangered category till the time the breeding population was over 500. Generally the lion breeding begins at the age of 3.5 years. Officials said that as per the 2010 census there were 97 males and 162 females which was around 259 adult male and female lions. This meant that around 63% of the population was breeding population . Officials said that all eyes were on the 2015 census which would reveal the exact size of the population and the area covered by the lions. It is estimated that the lion territory was spread around 20,000 sq km area.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The moment Indian farmer grabs an injured lioness by the TAIL and pokes it with a stick 'to prove to his friend it was still alive' Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • Cattleman found lion wounded on ground in India's Gir wildlife sanctuary
  • Realising it was hurt, they reported their find to local conservationists
  • Forestry officials could not find the animal and they called the farmer back
  • He found the lion again, grabbed its tail and poked it to prove it was alive
  • Film taken by his friend was initially mistaken for them taunting the animal 
  • But officials confirm animal was only recovered because cattlemen had contacted them 

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lion Safari to host a bird sanctuary too.

Apart from Asiatic Lions, visitors to Lion Safari in Etawah would also be able to watch wide variety of local birds as well as winged guests. The Samajwadi Party government is all set to develop a bird sanctuary at the safari.

Safari's director KK Singh said, "Nearly three hectares within the Fisher forest area has been identified for the project. National Chambal Sanctuary is already a home to a host of migratory birds coming from all parts of the Asiatic region. The bird sanctuary at the safari will create a natural ambience for willdlife lovers."

Winged visitors, including 'Brahmini' Duck, Rosy Pelican, Grey Leg Geese, Bar-Headed Geese and Fowler Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Common Coot, White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail, make the region their home every year, so it was only logical for the government to create a safe environment for the avians, he said.

Talking to TOI, Chambal's divisional forest officer (DFO) Anil Patel said, "We have already sent the proposal to Central Zoo Authority (CZA) through senior state forest authorities and, if all goes well, this would be one of the best bird sanctuary in the state," said Patel.

"A major plantation drive was carried out in Lion Safari. After acquiring full growth, the plants would provide shelter to local as well as migratory birds. We have decided to place artificial nests on the trees to attract avians," said another senior forest department official.

He said a team is already working to identify feasible spots to create artificial ponds to attract winged guests from October to March. "We are in the process of collecting data on migratory birds so that we can customise the area to suit requirements of winged guests. Famous ornithologists would also be brought to treat the birds and study their nesting, breeding and feeding habits." he further said.

The team would take steps for installation of sign-boards stating the importance of local and migratory birds in the region.

Inquiry ordered into allegations of cruelty to sick lioness in Gir forest.

Last Updated: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 21:24

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Forest Department has initiated an inquiry into an alleged incident of cruelty to a sick and helpless lioness by an unidentified man in Gir forest in the state, which is home to more than 400 Asiatic lions.
A video clip which went viral through WhatsApp and other social media platforms a few days ago had raised the eyebrows of many animal lovers.
In this three-minute clip, a young man with a stick in his hand is shown getting close to a sleeping lioness in forest, which appears to be the Gir forest.
The clip showed the man first trying to wake up the lioness by prodding her with the stick.
However, after the lioness didn't respond, he pulled her tail several times, which angered the lioness.
It appeared that the lioness was sick, since she failed to even stand up on her feet despite repeated provocations by the man.
Since the clip was labelled as cruelty to wild animals in social media, the Gujarat state forest department took cognisance of the matter and initiated an inquiry.
It has been claimed that the clip was shot in the Gir forest near Dhari range of Amreli district, though a primary investigation seems to suggest that the man in the video clip was actually helping forest officials identify such sick animals in deep pockets of the forest.
"We learned that the person shown in the clip is a local living in Gir forest. If you look carefully, he actually took forest officials to that lioness suffering from disease. To find out what has happened to her, he lifted her tail and prodded her with a stick," Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF-Wildlife) R L Meena said, refuting the 'cruelty' angle as claimed on social media platforms.
Since it has been claimed that the clip was shot in the Dhari range in the eastern part of Gir forest, the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF-East Gir) Anshuman Sharma has begun an inquiry to find out the truth.
"There are many locals in the forest who help forest officials. It seems that the video was shot an year back. To find out the truth behind allegations of cruelty, we have begun an inquiry. By tomorrow, the picture will be clear," Sharma said.

Maldharis who shot lioness video helped rescue it, say Gir forest officials.

Maldharis who shot lioness video helped rescue it, say Gir forest officials.
Express News Service | Rajkot | Posted: November 25, 2014 1:32 am
A DAY after a video showing a man “teasing” a lioness went viral on social media, the Gujarat forest department said it was no mischief and was shot by two maldharis (herdsmen) who had helped forest officers track the carnivore.
“The video was shot by two maldharis on December 30, 2013 in Jasadhar range of Gir East division. They found the animal paralysed. While one of them tried to assess the its weakness by touching its tail, the other one shot the action on his cellphone. They informed forest officers and the lioness was taken to Jasadhar Animal Care centre late that evening,” chief conservator of forests in Junagadh wildlife circle R L Meena said, adding that media had misunderstood the clipping.
In his report to higher authorities, Anshuman Sharma, deputy conservator of forests of Gir East division, identified the two maldharis as Kanu Vala and Shiva Lakhantra. The report said that Vala found the lioness in Tarbheti Taliya area of the forest and concluded that it was ill. He informed his uncle Lakhantra, who contacted forest officers. However, a trackers party from Jasadhar could not locate the big cat, the report states.
“In the evening, Vala took Lakhantra to the spot where the lioness had been lying. They found the lioness at the same spot. Lakhantra went closer to the lioness and checked with it with his stick. To assess its condition, he lifted its tail. Vala shot all this on his cellphone,” Sharma said, referring to Vala’s statement.
After local dailies reported on the video, state forests Minister Mangubhai Patel ordered an inquiry and sought a report within three days.
The DCF has forwarded his report to the state’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and a copy of the same is available with The Indian Express.
- See more at:

Personal Journey: Face to face with the king: The elusive lion strikes the pose.

To most people, lions are symbolic of Africa. However, in one forest on another continent, the Asian lion has made its last stand. Once upon a time, lions roamed in large numbers across a vast swath of Europe and Asia. But hunting and habitat destruction have greatly reduced their numbers. Gir Forest National Park in the state of Gujarat, India, is the last stronghold of the Asian lion. There are only about 200 left in the wild. On a trip to India in January, I decided to visit Gir to see these elusive Asian lions and the deer, wild boars, monkeys, and peacocks that inhabit the forest.
I traveled by car from Ahmedabad, the former capital of Gujarat, and stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of the forest. The evening was spent talking to the inhabitants of the local village and making arrangements for a safari the following day.
Very early in the morning, when the animals are active, I entered the forest in an open Jeep with a driver and a forest guide. It was still dark with a gentle cool breeze. Scent travels far under such conditions, ideal for lions to locate their prey. There was no sound except that of the Jeep engine and the indescribable background noise of the jungle. Every rustle would set our hearts racing.
Gradually, the inky darkness yielded to a glorious dawn. Shafts of golden sunlight filtered through the jungle canopy and lit up patches of the forest floor covered with dry brown leaves. Our ears and eyes strained to catch sound or sight of the lions. After some driving on jungle tracks, we heard muffled roars in the distance. We stopped and listened, senses stretched to the breaking point, trying to gauge the direction and distance of the roars.


'Fear of extinction of Asiatic lions from Gir not scientific'.

Last Updated at 16:00 IST
MP Parimal Nathwani said here that scientific facts do not support the fear of extinction of Asiatic lions from Gir national park in and emphasised on the need to create awareness among stakeholders in this regard.

Addressing a gathering of activists and students at a wild life photography exhibition held yesterday, Nathwani said people and the state government are opposed to the idea of translocating some Asiatic lions from Gir forest (in Somnath district) to Kuno wild life sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

Supreme in April 2013 had ruled that some lions in the Gir forest be shifted to Kuno wild life sanctuary in MP within six months.

"The apex court and Centre's fears, that a second home is needed to save Asiatic lions from extinction, were not supported by scientific proof. Kuno is not suitable for Gir lions owing to presence of tigers there, its eco-climate is different from that of Gir forest," he said.

The MP said that there were 25 tigers in Kuno forest at one time but in July 2009, there was no significant tiger population.

Translocation of lions from Gir will cause an irreparable damage to the sociology of lions in the state, he added.

He also said the Kuno sanctuary has witnessed a rise in number of incidences of poaching in the recent past and claimed that there are more than 400 gun-licence holders in the region.

The Gir national forest park is boasted as the pride of Gujarat which is the only natural habitat of the Asiatic lions.

How safe are Etawah safari lions?

After reports that lion Vishnu died of canine distemper in Etawah safari, threat of this viral disease also looms over the six Asiatic lions housed on the sprawling safari campus.

Although senior sate forest officials claim that the area where Vishnu and Lakshmi had been quarantined and treated has been disinfected and necessary precautions taken to prevent the spread of the disease, experts said, "The threat of the virus does not completely end if it makes its reach in a particular area."

A senior forest department official revealed that only after a few days of treatment of the lion and lioness ailing with paralysis, veterinarians had come to know that it was none other than the canine distemper disease due to the symptoms that the two showed. But, this fact could never be accepted till the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly submitted its initial report. For face saving, it was officially said that the lions were infected with some unknown viral disease but the veterinarians who were successful in diagnosing the disease through its symptoms gave all possible medication to save the animals, the official added preferring anonymity.

An expert said canine distemper can spread through air and body fluids in animals and according to documented facts, it can affect other animals surrounding susceptible hosts. The disease has been reported to spread from as far as 32 kms from an affected animal to another. It is mainly a dogs' disease which spreads easily in the felines (cat family) including lions and tigers. Going by the logic, the lions at the safari are at risk and should be screened properly, he claimed.

However, principal chief conservator of forests Rupak De denied that the remaining lions can contract the disease. "As soon as Vishnu and Lakshmi displayed signs of paralysis, they were segregated and hospitalised for treatment. Also, all necessary precautions had been taken."

But the fact is that the ailing lions were treated on the same safari campus where the six other lions had been housed, keeps the bomb ticking.

According to official sources, immediately after the death of the lion Vishnu, the area where he had been quarantined was disinfected. The exercise is still in progress, realising the fact that lion safari is a major project of the state government and to prevent other lions from the deadly disease.

A top forest official said on condition of anonymity that the cell in which Vishnu lived has been sanitised properly and now the process has come to an end. He said that the veterinarians treating the lions were also not allowed to go towards the breeding centre where six other lions were housed. "All necessary precautions have been taken as a standard procedure. Also, the six lions are hale and hearty and have adapted to the safari environment," he added.

Interestingly, the thickly populated surrounding area of the safari is home to a large number of dogs and this has been one of the reasons for the spread of canine distemper in the lions. Though forest department officials told TOI that the safari area is a dog-free zone, they could not deny dogs' presence outside safari.

According to the experts the death of the lions is a bad omen for the safari before its start. The death of the two lions has also reduced their already dwindling numbers. According to 2010 lion census, India is house to only 411 Asiatic lions, with Gir housing most of them. The death of the lions due to canine distemper virus is a matter of a serious concern and underlines the importance of their conservation, a veterinarian said.

Now this remains to be seen how the forest department will compensate the loss of two lions in Etawah safari. "Loss of two lions means a loss. This cannot be compensated with other lions. Their death means two lions now less in the total lion population which is a national loss," said Neeraj Mishra, a wildlife enthusiast.

Another ailing lion dies at Etawah.

PTI [ Updated 16 Nov 2014, 19:11:21 ]

A lion who was ailing for over a month died today due to multiple organ failure at the Lion Breeding Centre in Etawah, officials sources said. A forest department spokesman said that advice from experts from across the country and abroad was taken for the treatment of the lion, named Vishnu, who was taken ill since the last one and a half months.
Vishnu died of cardiac arrest due to multi organ dysfunction this morning, he said. It is the second feline to die at Etawah Safari.
On October 30 an ailing lioness, named Lakshmi, who was ill for past one year, died due to multi-organ failure at the breeding centre, Etawah.
The Asiatic lion pair—Lakshmi and Vishnu—sent from the Kanpur Zoo to Etawah Lion Safari in September were suffering from ‘multiple infections’, including a viral infection that led to paralysis.
Both of them were later segregated and hospitalised in the safari soon after they showed symptoms of paralysis. They were brought to Kanpur Zoo from Hyderabad in April 2013.

Lion conservation gone wrong.

Lion conservation gone wrong.

Lion cub found dead in Amreli village.

RAJKOT: An 11-month-old male lion cub was found dead in Sokhda village of Jafarabad taluka of Amreli district on Friday. Forest officials suspects infighting to be the cause of its death. Forester at Rajula Forest Range L R Vaghela said the cub was found at a farm owned by Champubhai Varu. "The marks on its body suggest that the wild cat died due to infighting," he said. Forest department has said its body for postmortem to ascertain the exact cause of death. According to lion census of 2010, there were 411 Asiatic lions in Gir forest and its nearby areas. However, in the last five years over 261 lions have died and many of them met an unnatural end. tnn

Two Lion Cubs Died in Wells in India.

By , | November 8, 2014

As a child, listening to the Panchatantra tale of the lion and the rabbit, I was quite impressed by the clever rabbit which outwitted the greedy lion and tricked it into jumping into a well. Today, however, I realize the importance of each and every species that exist in nature and their contribution to diversity and balance of the ecosystem. It is hence not joy but sadness that comes with the news of two lion cubs which inadvertently fell into open wells in two separate incidents in Gujarat and lost their lives. Asiatic Lions are an endangered species and the loss of two young lives is therefore all the more regrettable.

The first tragic incident was at Mota Pipaliya village of Mahuva taluk in Bhavnagar district; when a five-month old female cub fell into an open well. The animal died, inspite of forest department officials hurrying to rescue it. This is reportedly the first instance of a lion cub drowning in a well in the particular region. For the last 14 years, lions have settled in Mahuva’s Ranigala area having extended their territory outside the Gir sanctuary area.
The second incident occurred in Zujarpur village of Veraval taluk in Gir – Somnath district when a three-month-old male died after falling into a well. These open wells in the 1100 villages in the districts of Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar are proving to be open graves for the lions which inhabit the region.

The last lion census conducted in 2010 showed a total of 411 Asiatic lions in Gir forests and its adjoining areas. However, about 260 lions have died due to unnatural causes in the last five years; 11 of those in the Saurashtra region since January this year.
Lion facts and figures
The Asiatic Lion exists as a single isolated population in India’s Gujarat State. The endemic nature of the species puts it at risk of being wiped out entirely due to epidemics or forest fires. It has been listed as “endangered” on the IUCN red list owing to the population size. Over the past few years when the lion population was slowly increasing towards stability, the lions started expanding their territory in nearby areas surrounding the Gir protected forests and sanctuary. In recent times, lions have been killed due to other unnatural reasons such as being run over by trains passing through their territory and now by falling into wells.
Quick facts
  • Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides.
  • Only male lions boast manes.
  • Males defend the pride’s territory. They mark the area with urine, roar threateningly to warn intruders, and chase off animals that intrude on their kingdom; perhaps that gave them the title “King of the jungle”.
  • Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters. They often work together to prey upon large mammals.
  • After the hunt, the group effort often gives way to fights over the sharing of the kill, with cubs getting least priority. Young lions join the pride hunt only when they are about a year old.
  • If required, lions will even hunt alone, and sometimes also steal kills from hyenas or wild dogs. This article was originally written and published by Ramya Naresh, a contributing writer for For the original article and more information, please click HERE.

Vishnu’s condition deteriorates further.

KANPUR: Chances of Asiatic lion Vishnu's survival are quite bleak as its health has deteriorated further. Divisional forest officer (DFO), Chambal, Anil Patel said, "Vishnu's condition has worsened further and nothing much can be said about its recovery." A senior forest official at Lion Safari in Etawah said, "Vishnu has stopped eating and is on drip. The animal is being administered antibiotics, nervine tonics and other necessary life-saving drugs. It's condition is quite serious and survival chances bleak."

Senior veterinarian of Karnataka's Banner Ghatta Zoo Nag Raja, who arrived on Wednesday last to treat Vishnu, too has lost hope of Vishnu's survival, claimed a source. Currently, Vishnu is under the treatment of senior veterinarians, including Vikas Singh, RK Singh and Kuldeep Dwivedi, and has been kept in isolation to prevent the spread of the mysterious disease. Safari officials said that the remaining three pairs of Asiatic lions were being screened regularly to check spread of the virus. Vishnu and Lakshmi had arrived from Hyderabad Zoo.

After being housed in Allen Forest Zoo of Kanpur, the pair was shifted to the Lion Safari on September 10, this year by road resulting in injuries to them. In October, the pair suffered multiple infections and partial paralysis in the hind portion. Experts from Indian Veterinary Research Institute at Bareilly and Mathura Veterinary College were roped in for the treatment along with doctors from Kanpur and Lucknow zoos. The forest department also sought expert advice from Junagadh Zoo in Gujarat, Bear Rescue Centre at Agra and Longleat Park in London. However, on October 30, Lakshmi died following cardio-respiratory failure.

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav too had visited the safari on October 23 to take stock of the condition of the lion pair. The Etawah Lion Safari is a dream project of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh. The project was initiated in 2005 but the work started in May 2013 following environmental clearance.

Meanwhile, divisional forest officer (DFO), Chambal, Anil Patel said that forest department officials were in touch with their Gujarat counterparts and the latter have promised to provide a pair of lions. He further said that the pair of lions was expected to arrive in December.

Watch dramatic rescue of lion on a rope after it slipped and fell into 60ft well

Watch dramatic rescue of lion on a rope after it slipped and fell into 60ft well.

Click on below link;

Zoo vet treating lions develops flu-like symptoms, relieved.

Kanpur: A Kanpur Zoo veterinarian treating the Asiatic lion pair of Lakshmi and Vishnu was relieved of his duty at Lion Safari on Tuesday after he developed flu-like symptoms. While Lakshmi died last week, Vishnu's condition has remained critical.

Sources said that Dr Mohd Nasir had not been keeping well for the last three to four days. He also developed symptoms of viral disease, including redness in eyes, mild fever and vomiting. He also suffered from weakness and infection in throat. Though he had undergone a blood test, symptoms made Dr Nasir apprehend that he could have been afflicted by the zoonotic disease of Laksmi and Vishnu.

Talking to TOI, Dr Nasir said that he also suffered from pain in hands and legs. "On the basis of symptoms like flu, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, tonsillitis, fever and throat infection, I can conclude that I am in grip of the viral disease that can be zoonotic as well. As a veterinarian I stayed close to the ailing lioness and the lion for hours and come in contact with their urine which could have infected me with the virus. My blood test report will come on Thursday. However, I am affected by a viral disease that can be canine distemper."

The 'unknown' viral disease that led to the death of lioness Lakshmi and continues to afflict Vishnu is contagious and zoonotic (disease is transferred from animals to human beings). Experts said that doctors staying in vicinity of animals afflicted by zoonotic viral disease are quite susceptible to it.

Veterinary expert Dr AK Verma said that any doctor coming in contact with an animal suffering from a zoonotic viral disease was susceptible to it. He quoted the example of Rabies, a viral disease which could be contracted by a human being from a dog, rat or any other affected animal.

He added that if lion Vishnu was suffering from canine distemper then the disease could afflict the doctor and all those staying close to the animal like keeper, sweeper etc.

It was the fear of being afflicted by the disease that forced state forest minister SP Yadav to inspect ailing Vishnu from a distance. Though the minister stayed in the safari for around two hours he kept away from the lion. However, safari director KK Singh denied any such thing. "The lion has been quarantined in a cell for treatment. It is already under stress. Our minister therefore observed the lion from a distance and did not over-burden him under stress. Besides, humans going close to animal can be carrier of germs. So going close to the animal is normally avoided," he said.

Lion rescued from well in Gujarat.

Updated: November 5, 2014 02:02 IST

Forest officials from Gujarat’s Junagadh district rescued a male Asiatic lion from a well on Monday morning, in an operation that lasted a few hours.
The 9-year-old lion strayed from his habitat and fell into a well, in Amrapur village in Maliya Hatina taluk.
“He was spotted in the well around 6 a.m. The rescue began immediately. There was water in the 60-foot-deep well. A charpoy was suspended and he climbed onto it and was rescued. The animal has been sent to the Sasan Gir animal care centre. We will have to find out his regular habitat and then release him,” Mr. Katara, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Social Forestry) of Junagadh district, told The Hindu.
The Gujarat government has a scheme to allot Rs. 8,000 per well for the construction of walls around wells.
“This particular well did not have the parapet wall. We have told the well owner to build it immediately and the monetary assistance will also be provided to him,” Mr. Katara said.
The Sasan Gir National Park is the only natural habitat of the Asiatic lion, with the protected area stretching from south east of Junagadh to south west of Amreli district.

Safari to have another pair of Asiatic lions from Gir.

The breeding centre of Lion Safari will soon get another pair of Asiatic lions from Gujarat.

The state forest department had stepped up efforts to get a pair of Asiatic lions from Gir Forest in Gujarat.

This was disclosed on Saturday by the state forest department and safari authorities. Director of Etawah Lion Safari KK Singh said : "A talk had already been initiated in this regard with the Gujarat forest department by senior officials of state. A team led by safari officials would visit Gujarat soon."
Safari authorities believe that lion Vishnu and lioness Lakshmi are offsprings of the same family. A veterinary officer said, "The immunity system of the lions of same family is quite low, so we will try to procure animals purely from the wild instead of the hybrid ones."

Lakshmi, one of the eight lions at the breeding centre in Etawah, died on Thursday.

The lioness had developed paralysis-like symptoms. Lakshmi's partner and nephew Vishnu is also showing symptoms of paralysis and undergoing treatment at the quarantine of lion safari.

Lakshmi and Vishnu brought from Hyderabad zoo, had been housed in Kanpur's Allen Forest for nearly one-and-a-half year before being shifted to Etawah on September 10.

Sources at the safari pointed out that Vishnu might be shifted to prevent other wild beasts from contracting infection.

Aman-Kumari, Heer-Raanjha and Kuber-Greeshma, the three pairs of Asiatic lions are being monitored round-the-clock by veterinarians. An exclusive breeding area had been created to house them when they arrived from Lucknow zoo to safari in the recent past.

According to wildlife activists, Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), also known as the Indian lion, is a lion subspecies that exists as a single population in Gujarat. It is listed as endangered by IUCN due its small population. The lion population has steadily increased in the Gir Forest National Park, more than doubling from a low of 180 in 1974 to 411 in April 2010, consisting of 97 adult males, 162 adult females, 75 sub-adults and 77 cubs.

"Lion Safari is being planned to create a world-class facility for the rare and endangered guests. The exhibit for lions will feature large open spaces similar to what they have in the wild and also an exclusive sprinting area for routine exercising," a forest official said.

Lioness’ death revives debate over Etawah Safari.

Lucknow: The death of lioness Lakshmi in Etawah Lion Safari has re-ignited the debate whether the terrain is fit to house lions.

The pet project of the Samajwadi Party was in a limbo for over eight years at the Centre before it got the nod in 2012. Wildlife experts had raised concerns over it saying the climate of Etawah terrain was not suitable for the royal animal.

The correspondence and meetings among three bodies concerned - Central Zoo Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and UP government -- between 2005 and 2007 had discussed the project on various points, one being the suitability of climate and terrain of Etawah for lions.

"In several of these meetings with the Central government, concern was raised over climate and terrain in Etawah not conducive for lions," said a source in MoEF.

"Lions have not been studied as much as tigers so we can not say much on impact of climate and terrain on lions or on their social requirements. This was perhaps the reason why CZA said Etawah safari should also be developed as a research centre," said a forest officer associated with the project.

Another reason behind the lioness' death could be isolation. Unlike tigers, lions are social animals. "Lions love to see men around them. Look straight into their eyes and you develop a trust with them," said an officer of Gir national park, the biggest habitat of Asiatic lions.

Lions live in a pack of 10 to 15 and hunt and eat together. The most dominant lion rules over a large territory and has maximum number of lionesses and cubs living with it. Separating lions from their pack reduces their strength and being mentally unfit makes them vulnerable to diseases. Has the same happened with Etawah safari lions?

"Scientific management of lions and a well-planned mating plan is must to rear a viable lion population because they are not into close mating," said the official. Cubs born to same mother do not mate nor do the cubs born to different mothers but brought up together as they share a sibling bond. They mate only in rare cases. "There is a need to separate male and female cubs born to same mother or brought up together as soon as they are three-year old or mature to mate," he added.

KK Singh, director of Etawah Lion Safari, said investigations are underway to ascertain the cause of lioness' death. "The report has been sent to the Central Zoo Authority. And as more reports come, we would send them to CZA," he added.

UP had brought four pairs of Asiatic lions from zoos in Gujarat and Hyderabad in 2013 for breeding centre at Etawah safari. Cubs born to the pairs were to be released in the safari for tourists. But before the project could move ahead, it has received a jolt from Lakshmi's death.

Before being released in Etawah, a lion pair was kept at Kanpur zoo and three in Lucknow zoo. "They were kept away from public glare and examined medically everyday. Even when they arrived at zoos they were were found healthy. They were fed as per the diet chart from their parent zoos," said a zoo officer.

After permission from CZA, a pair was released in Etawah in April this year. Three other pairs followed in September. Forest department officers said they had no clue how Vishnu and its companion Lakshmi, pair from Kanpur zoo, contacted the disease? Lions, for more than one and a half year of their stay in UP have lived a solitary life, in zoos as well as safari.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lioness dead.

Friday , October 31 , 2014
Lucknow, Oct. 30: An Asiatic lioness that was undergoing treatment at a breeding centre in Uttar Pradesh for some mysterious ailments died this morning, a government release this.
“Lakshmi... died of multi-organ and cardio-respiratory failures,” the release said. Another ailing Asiatic lion, Vishnu, is still under treatment. The lions are of the same breed as six lions that the Gujarat government had gifted to Uttar Pradesh in 2012.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Akhilesh battles leonine challenge.

Lucknow: If Vishnu and Lakshmi pull through this crisis, it would be because some men had proposed — and determined — that they should live.

For those who believe man is the master of this universe, Vishnu and Lakshmi are no gods but a lion and lioness taken ill at a breeding centre in Uttar Pradesh. Nobody, not even veterinary experts, can tell what the two are suffering from.

Both have symptoms of paralysis, but it’s not only their distressed roar that is ringing in chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s ears. It’s the barbed words of another man that has hit him hard too.

The Asiatic lions — under treatment for over a month now — are of the same breed as six lions that the Gujarat government, then headed by Narendra Modi, had gifted to Uttar Pradesh in 2012.

Earlier this year, Modi had taken a dig at Akhilesh for caging the lions when they should have been roaming at a safari park coming up in the Samajwadi leader’s home district Etawah. The park is not ready yet, so the two lions had been kept in Kanpur zoo for over a year before being moved to the breeding centre with the six others, where they fell ill.

The state government has now sought help from London’s Zoo Society and the Born Free Foundation, UK, named after the 1966 film Born Free, where a lioness, Elsa, is reintroduced to the wild.

Sources said Modi’s comments had made Akhilesh wild too. “Your chief minister asked for lions from me,” Modi had told a rally in Bareilly ahead of the summer national elections. “We gave his government lions. We had hoped his officials would demonstrate some boldness in running the government after seeing the lions. But they could not handle the Gujarat lions. The lions had to be caged.”

That wasn’t all. India’s future Prime Minister then went on to invite Akhilesh’s father, Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, to visit Gir “to see how lions roam freely”.

That was in April, when the two lions — brought from Hyderabad Zoo, which had got them from Gir forest in Gujarat — were still in the Kanpur zoo. Akhilesh had hit back, saying the comment was uncalled for as the lions had been gifted as a “political courtesy”.

Then, in September, the lions fell ill.

Official sources said the challenge for the state government now was not only to save the two but also its image. They said Akhilesh, who last week visited the safari park — being built on the lines of Britain’s Longleat Safari and Adventure Park — instructed wildlife officials to take help from international experts.

“We have interacted with experts from the Born Free Foundation and sent the medical reports of the lions. We are in touch with the Zoo Society too. It is a big challenge to save the two and we have gone all out,” Rupak De, chief wildlife warden, Uttar Pradesh, told The Telegraph today.

“The two cannot move, their appetite is decreasing. What they are actually suffering from is not known. The symptoms are that of paralysis and viral infection. We have consulted all the leading vets in the country, including those from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly. As a last resort, we have approached the Born Free Foundation.”

Etawah Lion Safari director K.K. Singh said the two, “now inmates of a captivity centre at Etawah, have been segregated”.

Some veterinary experts said inbreeding within fragmented lion populations could be to blame for the illness.

- The Telegraph, Calcutta

High air fares force Amdavadis to hit road this Diwali.


AHMEDABAD: As the Diwali weekend approaches, air fares are touching new highs. With plane seats getting fewer or almost booked, Amdavadis are planning to take road trips to nearby locations to beat the out of reach air travel. The fares for regular as well as holiday destinations are almost 10-12 times higher over the Diwali weekend than what they are otherwise. This has forced people to take short road trips with their families to destinations such as Mount Abu, Gir-Somnath, Diu and Udaipur among others.

"Like in the US where families go for short trips over the weekend, people here too are taking that route to make the most of the holidays. It is not only cheaper, but one also gets to explore different areas and families spend more time together," said Manish Sharma, city-based tour operator.

Destinations like Gir-Somnath-Diu and Mount Abu-Udaipur are being preferred the most by Amdavadis for 5-day weekend starting Thursday. "Every year, I along with my family go for holidays once we are done with Lakshmi Puja on Diwali. This year I am going to Pavagadh and Saputara. Some of my friends have opted for nearby destinations in Rajasthan," said Deven Patel, businessman.
"All the hotels in the city, especially 3-star and above are almost booked. More than 60% of the crowd that will be coming here is from Gujarat only," said Sanjay Singhal, a hotelier in Mount Abu.

With Gir forest also opening up, many people are taking wildlife tours coupled with trip to Somnath temple and Diu.

Some people who were unable to get bookings in hotels have rented out farm houses for 5-6 days. "I am going with my extended family to Mount Abu and also taking my cook along with me. We have booked a farm house so that the whole family can stay together and have some great time," said Harshil Patel, a businessman.

Mother's pride as cub joins zoo baby boom.

Wayne O'Connor

Published 23/10/2014 | 02:30
The new lion explores the lion enclosure at Dublin Zoo
The new lion explores the lion enclosure at Dublin Zoo
DUBLIN Zoo's baby boom has continued - with the latest member of its lion pride being unveiled.
The cub made her first public appearance yesterday alongside her mum Sita, after she was born in August.
The as yet unnamed Asian lion is considered significant to an international breeding programme for the endangered species.
Currently, there are only 350 Asian lions in the wild - all of which live in the Gir Forest in India.
This new arrival is the second female cub to be delivered at the zoo this year after another, Kuno, arrived there in May. A male cub was also born there in August.
Team leader at Dublin Zoo Ciaran McMahon said the new addition is doing well.
"At two months old, she now weighs an estimated 6kg and has developed a strong bond with mum Sita," he said. "We are excited to see how the relationship between the female cub and Kuno develops."
The zoo is inviting the public to help name the new arrival. Suggestions can be submitted through its Facebook page.
The lion is the ninth arrival at the zoo since May - following a Rothschild giraffe, a Goeldi's monkey, two meerkat pups, three elephants and a zebra foal.
Sita came to Dublin from Mulhouse Zoo in France in 2012 as part of the lion breeding programme, while "experienced father" Kuman came from a zoo in Rotterdam last year.
Mr McMahon said: "These lions are endangered and it is of great conservation importance that zoos maintain a viable population of Asian lions."
Irish Independent

Forest department orders study of fluorosis among lions.

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat forest department has taken up a study on fluorosis among the lions in Lathi Liliya area. Anand Veterinary Institute has been entrusted with the task. The department decided to take up the study following a finding by two doctors, Dr Jalpan Rupara and Dr Purvesh Kacha.

The doctors in their report, "Ecology of Lions in Greater Gir Landscape," had cited ailments plaguing humans and lions alike. The report revealed that in Amreli, a region with contaminated ground water, both humans and lions seem to be victims of fluorosis — a disease characterized by tooth decay and deterioration of bones and joints due to high content of fluoride in ground water.

Forest officials said that after the issue was highlighted, the department decided to carry out a study of the fluorosis in the area. The officials said that the lions are being supplied with water through tankers. "We are examining post-mortem reports of the deaths from the area, monitoring the decaying of bones and scrutinizing the number of teeth found on dead lions."

"In case of lions, the water is supplied through tankers and no underground water is being used. If the study concludes that the lions are suffering from fluorosis, a management plan will be drawn up," said C N Pandey, chief wildlife warden.

The doctors undertook the study in 250 sq km of Lathi Liliya area having a population of 40 lions, which threw up surprising findings.

"Out of eight lions studied, tooth decay was found in three. One lion has lost all but two of the 26 teeth, second has lost four and third has lost three. These lions were not reported to have met any accidents. This is intriguing as lions are not recorded to lose teeth in their lifetime. Minor deformities in bones were also recorded," said Dr Jalpan Rupara, a radiologist.