Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reduce speed of trains: Gujarat to firm.

TNN Jan 24, 2014, 02.29AM IST
This is the second incident after September last year when a six-month-old lion cub was run over by a goods train near Uchaiya village of Rajula.
The official census in May 2010 had revealed that there were 21 lions in the coastal areas of Una, Kodinar, Sutrapada and Chhara. However, this number has increased sharply. Officials said that during the interrogation, the officials found that the train was moving at a speed of about 50 km per hour.
During the interrogation, the driver of the train said that even if he had applied sudden brakes, the trains would have skidded nearly 10 meters, thus killing the lions.
The officers said that the driver did not apply the sudden but instead applied the normal brake. An offence report has been sent to all concerned officials including the Railways and the Pipavav Railway Corporation Ltd and the forest officials. PRCL is the 50:50 joint venture company of the Indian Railways and the Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd (GPPL), which was set up for the 271-km-long line connecting the port of Pipavav to Surendranagar
Additional chief secretary, forest and environment H K Dash said, "We are taking up the issue with the Railways and the Pipavav Port Trust. The department will also be asked to have fences along the area with opening. At these opening, the driver may reduce the speed," he said.
Principal chief conservator of forests, wildlife, CN Pandey said that after the incident of the killing of one lion within the sanctuary by a local metre gauge train, its speed was reduced. But this is outside the sanctuary area. He further said that the department will initiate dialogue with the port and the railways.
AHMEDABAD: The forest and environment department has decided to write to the Pipavav Railway Corporation Limited (PRCL) to reduce the speed of the goods trains from Rajula to Pipavav. Not less than 50 lions have made this area their permanent home for the past few years.
On Wednesday, in tragic incident two lionesses - one of which was pregnant - were run over by a container train, about 1.5 km from Pipavav port in Amreli district on Wednesday morning. Five lionesses were crossing the railway track between Bherai and Bhachadar village when they were rammed by the train at 6.30 am. Forest department officials told TOI that the one of the lioness that was around seven-years-old was one-month pregnant with three cubs. The other lioness was two years old.

130 years on, Brits to make up for lion-hunting losses.

AHMEDABAD: During the Raj, lion hunting was considered the most aristocratic sport. No wonder then that the population of Asiatic lion had hit the rock bottom under the British rule - there were just 12 lions left in Junagadh in 1884. British journals of the 19th century show that the big cat occupied a prominent place in the 'shikaar' stories.

A good 130 years later, a group of Britons feel it is time to payback. The ZSL London Zoo has prepared a conservation plan to become a part of the efforts to save Asiatic lions. "As part of international efforts to save the Asian lion, ZSL London Zoo is planning a £5.7m project to increase the size of its lion enclosure fourfold and fund conservation work on the last remaining wild population in the Gir Forest National Park," said the zoo's press officer Rebecca Blanchard.

The zoo plans a brand new Asiatic lion exhibit for 2016. "We're investigating the different ways we can get involved in projects to help save Asiatic lions in India. We'll continue to play an important role in the European conservation breeding programme for the species."

The project for lion conservation, that is captive breeding programme, is the baby of the ZSL London Zoo's zoological director, David Field. The zoo director wants to increase the number of the lions from five to 12 in a new enclosure will allow the zoo to play a greater part in captive breeding programme to prevent the subspecies from going extinct. A team from the UK will chalk out a plan for coordination with the Gujarat state forest department for conservation efforts.

Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) C N Pandey said, "A team from ZSL London Zoo visited Gujarat five months ago. According to their bylaws, the ZSL London Zoo will contribute funds towards conservation programme of the Asiatic lion in its home range in Gujarat."

Rain, waterlogging cause delay in lion safari project.

KANPUR: Uttar Pradesh Awas Vikas Parishad, the nodal agency for the construction and execution of Lion Safari project in Etawah, had set a deadline of January 31 to complete the construction work at the breeding centre and veterinary hospital besides the main boundary wall.

Keeping in mind the fast approaching Lok Sabha elections, the work was supposed to be completed in the last week of January with the shifting of four pairs (four males and four females) of Asiatic lions from Lucknow and Kanpur Zoos at the breeding Centre of Lion Safari in Fisher Reserve Forest area but it could not do done due to rain in the region. The work got delayed by seven to 10 days.

Officials said work on nearly 2,500 metres of the main boundary wall of Lion Safari has now been resumed. "Rain since the first week of January had played spoilsport. It caused waterlogging and slush all around, which affected the work of raising the concrete walls," said Gurmeet Singh, wildlife warden (Lion Safari), claiming that almost 65 to 70% of the work related to the boundary wall had already been completed.

Sources informed that top officials have asked the authorities concerned to engage additional manpower and resources and speed up the work which got delayed due to rain.

JCBs and earth movers are being used and soil is removed to make deep trenches to raise concrete walls in nearly 2.5 kms of stretch of the total 7.75 kms around Lion Safari. During rain, the area got flooded, concreting work cannot be done and heavy machinery cannot be moved. Work related to welding and wiring also affected.

A senior official informed that three dozen employees have already been roped in by the state government to make the breeding and veterinary hospital in Lion Safari functional.

"The functions of the Safari would be carried out by several departments, namely, administration, animal welfare, commissary (store), transport, research, education and awareness, veterinary, horticulture, security and sanitation. There will be around 35 regular and contractual staff, including director, range officer, a veterinary doctor, two wildlife warden, one laboratory assistant, two clerks, three wildlife keepers, a biologist, who will be given the task of education, interpretation, and research of the Safari," added another official.

The director in the rank of conservator of forests, will be supported by one range officer, one education officer, a curator, besides a biologist and a forest guard. Field staff includes three keepers, four drivers, four security guards, two gate-keepers, two gardeners, one plumber, three sweepers, one electrician and one operator, he added.

London Zoo to increase pride of Asiatic lions and fund conservation work in India to save dwindling wild population.

To most of us, lions are African, but many of the great beasts of legend were Indian. Now a zoo plans to breed more of them

Friday, January 24, 2014

Forest department sports meet starts today at Sasan Gir.

AHMEDABAD: Around 400 sportspersons from 12 divisions of forest department are expected to participate in the 'Gir Ramatotsav 2014' being organized by late Shri Shaktisinh Visana Memoral Gir Forest Staff Welfare Association and Wildlife Division of Sasan Gir from January 24 to 26.

The main objectives of the programme is to develop the physical fitness of the forest department staff that is working for protection and conservation of Asiatic lions, to provide an opportunity to show their sport skills and to motivate and provide opportunities to develop relations with other staff members working on the same objectives. Ramatotsav 2014 will have both individuals and group sports.

New lion roars into Jerusalem zoo.

January 23, 2014, 8:53 am

Young male Asiatic lion Gir replaces aged Lider, who died last year

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was preparing on Thursday to receive a new male lion, due to arrive in Israel on an evening cargo plane flight from Sweden.

Zoo authorities said that the rare Asiatic lion, named Gir, is just 2 years of age and has not yet grown a full mane. Nonetheless, Chief Carnivore Keeper Dennis Smith is taking no chances with introducing the big cat to his new home at the zoo, where he will join Ileniya, an elderly lioness who is 16 years old.
The lions will be kept apart at first to prevent any super-size cat fights, although a window between their rooms will allow them to see each other, giving keepers an idea of whether or not they can be let out to roam together. However, even that is not always a clear indication of what will happen once they get their paws on each other.
“It is still a bit risky,” Smith said.
Last summer the zoo’s veteran male Asiatic lion Lider, 16, was put to sleep after veterinarians and keepers decided that his difficulties in walking and standing, brought on by chronic back pain, were insufferable.
Gir, who weighs over 150 kilograms, may soon have a playmate nearer his age. Asiatic lions are an endangered species, with only around 300 left in the Gir Forest Sanctuary in India and another 330 in captivity. Zoos around the world are engaged in a breeding program to try to save the faltering species from extinction.
The Jerusalem zoo has already begun searching for a possible mate to join him in the summer in the hope that they will breed.
However, with the relatively small number of Asiatic lions available — by comparison there are over 1,600 African lions in captivity — inbreeding is common and as a result many of the animals have genetic disorders affecting their health.
Lider himself was born sterile as a result and an illness that afflicted his nervous system was likely brought on by genetic problems.
Due to their small numbers, Asiatic lions in Europe and the region are coordinated by the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists, which tries to pair up breeding lions.
Gir’s new environment will include an outside area to explore, and a heated room to keep off the winter chill.

Goods train mows down 2 lionesses near Gir forest.

Thursday, Jan 23, 2014, 9:32 IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

Locals and conservationists blame it on rampant development in lion corridor.
The site where the mishap took place is around 40km from the Gir forest, but the movement of lions is regularly witnessed in the area
The site where the mishap took place is around 40km from the Gir forest, but the movement of lions is regularly witnessed in the area
Two lionesses were mowed down by a speeding goods train near the Gir forest on Wednesday morning. The accident on the Surendranagar Pipavav port rail line — a cub was mowed down by a train on the same route last year — has raised questions about the safety of Asiatic lions in the state.

Gujarat houses the last surviving population of Asiatic lions and the state government claims to have done a lot in conserving this endangered species.

The lionesses were hit by a Pipavav Port-bound train between Dehra and Pasada villages in Rajula taluka of Amreli district. The site where the mishap took place is around 35-40 kms from the Gir forest, but the movement of lions is regularly witnessed in the area.

Last year, a cub died in a similar incident on the route. A leopard was also killed in a similar manner on the tracks.

“We have taken the statement of the goods train driver, who said the lions dashed in front of the train and they couldn’t stop it on time,” said divisional forest officer JK Makwana . On reports that the lioness was pregnant, Makwana said he is yet to get the post-mortem report and hence can’t comment.

A couple of lions were mowed down by a train in the Sasan forest area about 15 years ago, following which trains on the rail line were cautioned to move at a slow pace, which resulted in minimising such accidents there.

“We will try to find out solutions to this problem by having consultations with all those involved,” deputy forest officer JK Makwana said.

Villagers who reported the incident blame rampant development in the lion corridor for the accident.

“The area has seen rampant development. Mines and ports have come up. It is home to close to 60 lions and is outside the sanctuary and forest area. This was a tragedy waiting to happen.
Unlike in Gir Sanctuary, the forest officials don’t patrol the area much. If no concrete steps are taken, such incidents will continue to happen,” said Dinesh Goswami of Prakruti Nature Club.  He said development in the area will eventually bring the lions in conflict with people.

“There are heavy vehicles including loaders moving in the area. I have personally seen lions close to such areas,” said Mangabhai Thapa — a resident of the village who was among the first to reach the lion accident site.

It should be noted that safety of lions is the primary argument on which the state government has been opposing translocation of the animal to Madhya Pradesh. The state government has often cited MP’s poor record in protecting its own tigers but such accidents may end up weakening the state’s stance.

Chief Wildlife Warden CN Pandey said the incident happened outside the sanctuary and the forest area. “It was revenue land on which the incident happened. We will be having talks with the railways about what can be done to prevent such incidents in the state,” said Pandey. He too agreed that though not a forest area, it is home to several lions.

Goswami said the lions have moved to the coastal areas which have seen rapid development. “There is rampant mining happening there and soon we will see a new sort of conflict. We need to do something before it is too late,” said Goswami.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Two leopard cubs trapped by villagers in Surat.

SURAT: Two leopard cubs were trapped by villagers of Pipariya village of Mandvi taluka in Surat district and handed over to forest officials on Saturday. The cubs were around two to three months old and were in good health condition when found.

Farmers Amit Patel and Chirag Patel nabbed the leopard cubs from their farm and informed forest officials. Arriving on spot the forest officials took custody of the cubs and attempts are being made to cage the mother leopard.

The attempts to nab the leopard have been continuing in the village since the first week of January. Earlier villagers spotted the two cubs while working in the fields. One of the cubs was nabbed by villagers and on being informed, forest officials placed a cage to trap the mother leopard. The forest officials failed to trap the mother leopard after which the leopard cub was released back into the farms.

Since then the forest officials were attempting to cage the female leopard which has given birth to the cubs in the farm. Farm labourers in the village have refused to go to the farms for routine work since then, fearing leopard attack. Due to reduction in forest area the leopards have started living in farms around villages in south Gujarat over the last few years.

Leopard skin seized at Neryamangalam.

Updated: January 19, 2014 11:32 IST
A leopard skin was seized by officials from the Department of Forests, Ernakulam Flying Squad, from a person who was trying to sell it at Neryamangalam town.
Forest Department sources said that the leopard skin, valued roughly at Rs. 10 lakh in the market, was seized from one Shijo, hailing from Shantanpara in Idukki district. The skin was seized after the flying squad received a tip-off from the Forest Intelligence Department.

Yusuf Pathan's world: wild and exotic.

To read the article click below link;

Yusuf Pathan's world: wild and exotic.

Kanpur Zoo lion left out in the cold, literally.

TNN Jan 18, 2014, 12.13AM IST
KANPUR: Five-year-old Asiatic lion Vishnu of Kanpur zoo was left out in the cold on Friday. Literally.
Brought out of its cage for a dekko by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the poor animal braved hailstorm and rain under a tree as the zoo keepers ostensibly forgot to send it back in its enclosure following cancellation of CM's visit due to inclement weather. Later, it was the turn of the lion to throw tantrums. Wet to the skin in the biting cold, Vishnu refused to return to its enclosure. It was only after the rain stopped for a few minutes that the zoo staff somehow managed to persuade it to return to the cage.

As soon as Vishnu entered the cage, the staff immediately switched on blowers to provide it some warmth. Despite taking preventive measures, zoo authorities are keeping fingers crossed. Worry was writ large on their faces as they feared that Vishnu could take ill after getting drenched in rain in the chilly weather. Absence of any shelter in the lion enclosure only added to Vishnu's woes as it had only tree shade to protect itself from hails and rain.
According to vet experts, lions were susceptible to hypothermia (body temperature falling below normal mark) after getting drenched. Besides, they were also susceptible to heart and lung aliments.
Zoo director K Thomas said that two blowers were deployed to provide warmth to Vishnu. "As lion is the king of the jungle, we were unable to force it back into its enclosure. Repeated attempts by the keepers failed to evoke any response from Vishnu."
A keeper told TOI that for past couple of days, zoo inmates were under stress that resulted in a change in their behavioral pattern. He said that animals especially, the herbivores, had reduced feed intake. This, according to him, was due to the increased vehicular rush of the four-wheelers with hooters.
"As the chief minister had to come to the zoo, the police and administrative officials were coming here. Their vehicles fitted with pressure horns disturbed the animals. This can affect the health of the animals," said the keeper on the condition of not being named.

Uttar Pradesh govt may inaugurate Lion Safari before Lok Sabha elections.

Faiz Rahman Siddiqui, TNN Jan 18, 2014, 12.15AM IST
KANPUR: The Lok Sabha elections are approaching and the state government may announce the inauguration of the Lion Safari in Etawah soon. Four pairs of Asiatic Lions kept at Lucknow and Kanpur zoos may be shifted there by the first week of February. The construction work is going on in Fisher Reserve Forest area these days.
Sources said that officials have been given a deadline of January 31 for completion of work, particularly at the breeding centre and veterinary hospital of the safari.
The state machinery comprising ministers and senior bureaucrats have been asked to extensively tour the safari and speed up the work related to the project.
The chief minister had made a surprise inspection of the construction work at Lion Safari on January 4. Prior to that, state environment and zoo minister Shiv Pratap Yadav had made a visit to Fisher Forest area to take note of the ongoing construction work.
The work, which was initiated in 2005 by the Samajwadi Party government, was stopped immediately after Bahujan Samaj Party came to power. It was again revived after Samajwadi Party formed a government in March 2012.
On Thursday, principal secretary PWD Rajnish Dubey and other district officials, including DM P Guru Prasad inspected the Fisher Reserve Forest area.
To facilitate the locals as well tourists from other parts of the country, three approach roads, which connect Lion Safari from National Highways including Agra-Mainpuri, Gwalior-Etawah and Kanpur-Etawah, would be widened and designed on international parameters. "To facilitate the tourists, the paving and widening of the approach roads would be done, keeping in mind the international tourists," a senior PWD official said.
These roads connect the Lion Safari to the bordering states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, besides tourists from across northern parts of the state.All the big and small bridges dotting the stretch and heading towards the Lion Safari would be renovated. "We have asked Uttar Pradesh Bridge Corporation to submit a status report of all big and small bridges including the Chambal bridge, which is nearly 50 years old, so that renovation work could be carried out," added a senior official.
The work on the construction of the breeding centre and veterinary hospital at the safari is in final stages. "January 25 has been set as a deadline for the completion of work at both the breeding centre and veterinary hospital. Work on electricity arrangements had almost been completed at the breeding centre and veterinary hospital. At present, work on laying down of water pipelines is underway," senior warden Lion Safari, Gurmeet Singh, said.Recently, Lucknow Zoo had received two pairs of Asiatic Lions from the Sakkarbag Zoo in Gujarat for the upcoming Lion Safari in Etawah.
"There are now three pairs of Asiatic lions at Lucknow Zoo and one pair at Kanpur Zoo. The first two pair of Asiatic lions have been procured from Hyderabad and Rajkot zoos," said Singh.
Total numbers of Asiatic lions procured so far for Lion Safari project now reaches eight, he added. "By the last week of January or in the first week of February, these royal animals would be shifted to the safari," claimed forest department official.
Development of Lion Safari will help the party in garnering votes and woo the voters ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, a local SP leader said. "We have been asked to identify and prioritize works in and around the Lion Safari so that they are taken up on war-footing before the notification is issued for the 2014 elections," said a Samajwadi Party leader in Etawah.The safari will generate employment avenues and develop the site as a tourist spot. It may boost the region economy, he added.

Lion Safari gets its first veterinary doctor.

Abhinav Malhotra, TNN Jan 17, 2014, 02.11AM IST
KANPUR: A permanent veterinary officer from animal husbandry department has been deputed for Asiatic lions at for Lion Safari. The newly appointed veterinary officer, Dr Kuldeep Dwivedi arrived at Kanpur Zoo on a two-day visit on Wednesday.
He is the first veterinary officer to be posted in Lion Safari. During his two day visit, Dr Kuldeep went around the zoo and saw the lions. The pair of Asiatic lions which are a centre of attraction for chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also are likely to be transferred to Lion Safari soon.
Dr Kuldeep also met zoo veterinarians RK Singh and UC Srivastava. Talking to TOI, Dr Kuldeep Dwivedi said that he had come to the zoo to take note of the regular work.
"My plans for Lion Safari include disinfecting the safari area, conducting fogging, testing ground water and soil. Other sources of contamination will also be checked. Rodent and termite control measures will also be taken to ensure safety of the Asiatic lions," said Dr Dwivedi. He added that all these measures will be taken up in three separate phases.
He also mentioned that in next two days, he would be handing over the list of the works to the director. When questioned to him about the possibility of transfer of lions to Lion Safari from Kanpur zoo, Dr Kuldeep said that this was not known to him. The Kanpur zoo administration on the other hand mentioned that the preparations from the side of the zoo regarding the transfer of the lions is complete and it will take place after receiving instructions from the government. The preparations at the zoo for shifting of lions is almost complete.

Zoo decks up to welcome CM.

TNN Jan 15, 2014, 04.29AM IST
KANPUR: The Allen Forest Kanpur has undergone a major facelift to welcome chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday. He is expected to lay the foundation stone of the toy train project. The pair of Asiatic lions in the zoo had attracted Yadav's attention. Soon the lion pair would be shifted to the Lion Safari in Etawah.
The Kanpur zoo, which had always looked at the state government for funds, has now been given a fresh look. The building structures, including the boundary wall, administrative building and animal enclosures have been painted. The enclosure of lions, tiger, rhino, chimpanzee, orangutan and swamp deer to name a few have been painted in white.
The garden opposite the administrative building has been maintained and the tree trunks painted in red and white. The grass has been neatly cut and flower pots have been placed in the administrative building. The lake view building has been made ready. Windows and doors were polished and given a fresh look. The zoo is now looking clean.
Four years back, the budget of zoo was just Rs 35 lakhs. This amount was too less to manage the zoo. The amount had now been doubled to Rs 70 lakhs. But after the formation of zoo society in 2012, the Kanpur zoo could manage to stand on its feet. The money collected from the tickets sold and the parking was saved in the zoo society. This fund collection strengthened the hands of the zoo administration who could manage the zoo in a better way. Realising the problems faced by the Kanpur zoo administration in managing the zoo and to provide it a facelift, the state government took certain decisions, including the sanctioning Rs 30.95 crores for carrying out various developmental works. This is the first time that a CM is visiting the zoo and taking interest in its affairs.

Decreasing lion population, a cause of concern for West Africa.

Last Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014, 18:32
Washington: The African lions, across the West African region are on the brink of extinction, according to latest study findings.

The study reveals that there are about 250 adult lions, which now walk the lands of the continent.

The six year long survey report, funded by National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative (BCI), was initiated by Panthera's Lion Program Coordinator Dr. Philipp Henschel and a team from West Africa.

The survey covered eleven countries where lions were believed to exist for the past two decades. It has been discovered that the population of these genetically distinct animals is now restricted to 5 countries including Senegal and Nigeria.

The stark fall in the number of lions living in West Africa is the result of ever-growing human population and their need to acquire land, reducing wild-life cover. Also, many pastoralists hunt down lions, fearing the loss of their cattle.

According to recent molecular research, it has been proved that these lions are closely related to the extinct "Barbary Lions" which once roamed North Africa. The research also established their link with the last Asiatic lions surviving in India.

At present there are less than 35,000 lions in Africa and in West Africa alone, the lions reside in a range of about 50,000km.

Taking note of the rapidly decreasing lion population, Dr. Christine Breitenmoser, the co-chair of the IUCN/SCC Cat Specialist Group said that the loss of West African lions would mean losing unique specie, which makes their conservation even more urgent.


Lakshmi to undergo another blood test.

Abhinav Malhotra, TNN Jan 9, 2014, 11.19AM IST
KANPUR: Asiatic lioness Lakshmi will once against undergo blood test to confirm that it is fit and can be transferred to Lion Safari - the ambitious project of the SP government.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav who is expected to visit Kanpur zoo on January 15 would have a look at the pair of Asiatic lions. It is expected that the lions would be send to Lion Safari after the blood test report.
Director, Kanpur zoo, K Thomas said that the blood test of the lioness would be done to check her health status. He added that otherwise the lioness was absolutely fit and fine.
He mentioned that taking the lioness in the seizure enclosure for collecting her blood sample was a difficult task. Once the blood test was done, its report was expected to arrive within a month. Dr RK Singh of Kanpur zoo told TOI that the lioness was completely fine after going for medication last year.
The lioness had contracted fatal bacterial disease leptospirosis last year.

We’re Not Lying: Lion Captured After Brief Escape Near Tampa.

SPRING HILL (CBSMiami) – Well, this is something you don’t get to write everyday…authorities in the Tampa area had to capture a lion that briefly got loose Friday morning.
Yes, a lion.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that it assisted state wildlife authorities in locating a lion that apparently got loose from a Spring Hill wildlife sanctuary.
The lion was caught and tranquilized shortly after escaping.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse says the 7-year-old female lion will be returned to an “inspected, secure cage” at the Survival Outreach Sanctuary.
Morse says the lion escaped Friday from an inner enclosure at the Spring Hill wildlife sanctuary. Authorities set up a perimeter around the property while they tried to determine whether the lion also had escaped through an outer enclosure.
Messages left at the sanctuary were not immediately returned.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Tiger breeding to restart at zoo.

Krishnendu Mukherjee, TNN Dec 31, 2013, 02.42AM IST
KOLKATA: If 2013 took Alipore Zoological Gardens to new heights for its adoption scheme, the zoo is set to hit another high note in the New Year with its captive breeding programme for the tigers and lions.
While captive breeding of tigers in the zoo last happened almost a decade back in 2005, that of the lions took place even before that. Some even claimed that this will probably be the first time that two pure Asiatic lions will be bred in the zoo.

"The technical committee of the state zoo authority has already approved the proposal. It will be presented in its governing body meeting next month for a final nod," said zoo director K L Ghosh. However, member secretary of state zoo authority, TVN Rao, said the technical committee's say is final here.
So, when will the zoo authorities embark upon the project? As soon as the winter rush is over, said the zoo director. "We are planning to start the project with the captive breeding of the tigers. But unless the year-end and New Year rush is over, we can't start working on it because it needs a lot of planning. Besides, the mating pairs too will need time and isolation," Ghosh said.
According to Ghosh, they have a male tiger in the zoo that has the bloodline of Sunderbans big cats and is capable to mate. "We might consider it for the programme so that the cubs get a new gene pool," he said. However, he couldn't recall whether it was a rescued Sunderbans tiger.
The zoo at the moment has five Bengal tigers - three male and two female. Besides, it has three white tigers as well. On the lions, the zoo director couldn't confirm the date when they were bred in captivity for the last time. At present, the zoo has a pair of Asiatic lion, brought from the Hyderabad zoo three years back, and three hybrid lions, two male and a female.
Since the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI) has strongly recommended against the breeding of hybrids, the zoo cannot breed the hybrid lions and hence the Asiatic lions were brought from its counterpart in Hyderabad.
However, conservationists raised question over such move saying it won't serve the purpose of conservation and will only raise the footfall in the zoo.
The last captive breeding of tigers happened in the zoo in 2005 and two cubs were born then, of which one was reportedly sent to the Darjeeling zoo.
"Zoos should take up captive breeding programmes, but the idea is not to draw tourists only. We have to keep in mind that the tigers that we have now will not live forever. The generation should move on and this is where a zoo plays a crucial role," said Ghosh.
Cross breeding of tigers and lions brought the zoo in the eye of storm earlier. A cross between a Bengal tiger and an African lion, Rudrani - a 'tigon' born in 1970 - produced a litter of seven 'litigon' cubs after mating with an Asiatic lion in 1976. One of these 'litigons' were marketed by the zoo authorities as the largest living big cat in the world. It died at the age of 15 in 1991. The zoo stopped its hybrid programme in 1985, after there was criticism from the scientific community which claimed that such hybrids suffer from 'genetic abnormalities'.

Lion territory doubles in three years.

AHMEDABAD: The king of the jungle has conquered new territories. About one-third of the Saurashtra region has been marked as Asiatic lion-inhabited areas by the state forest department. A recent study based on frequent lion kills and compensation given to farmers says the big cats rule over a huge 20,000 sq km of area — almost double the 10,500 sq km recorded in the May 2010 census.

A detailed analysis reveals that there are about 1,500 villages in Saurashtra where lions regularly venture out to kill domestic as well as herbivorous animals. Most of these villages are located in Junagadh, Amreli and some even in Bhavnagar.

Experts say this is a result of good conversation efforts put in by the state government. The Gir national park and sanctuary is unable to contain the growing population of the lions — the numbers have consistently grown from 284 in 1990 to 304 (1995), 327 (2000), 359 (2005) and 411 according to the last census held in 2010. The first census of independent Gujarat state conducted in 1968 had put the lion population at 177.

The next census, due in 2015, will be carried out over an area of 20,000 sq km.

Forest department officials believe that out of 411 lions recorded in the last census, 114 have strayed into newer areas. Since the big cat can live close to friendly human habitations, it has even moved out of forest corridors where it feeds on domestic cattle.

Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests, who conducted the study, says, "The study does not take into account stray kills. We have identified areas where the lion presence has been continuous over longer periods."

Akhilesh's search for mandi model ends in Gujarat.

Faisal Fareed : Lucknow, Tue Dec 24 2013, 03:36 hrs
After getting two pairs of Asiatic lions from Gujarat for Mulayam's dream project (Lion Safari), Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will now implement the state's model for development of mandis in UP.
Akhilesh, who heads the Mandi Parishad, had sent officials to Gujarat and several other states to study their development model for mandis. Officials zeroed in on Gujarat model as the most suitable for adoption what with many of its features being helpful to farmers, they said.
"We toured several states including Gujarat. The good features will be incorporated at our mandis here. We are even open to incorporating features from mandis in other countries, for which officials had travelled to Germany and France as well," R B Yadav, Additional Director, Mandi Parishad said.
Officials of Mandi Parishad said stalls in Gujarat's Mandi, which has separate stalls for fruits, flowers, vegetables and grains, are quite attractive. Another advantage is that they run round the clock. They have a soil testing lab and processing units for several items within the same campus. Besides, every gate has electronic weighing scale, and cold storage units and general stores are also present inside the complex.
Among other things, officials said, shops selling agricultural equipment are also available within the campus.
Gujarat mandis are visitor-friendly with features like farmers' retiring room and canteen facility. These will definitely be included in UP's mandis, an official said.
The implementation of Gujarat model will be done from March 2014 in 20 big mandis of the state, including Moradabad, Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Agra, Kanpur, Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiyya, Lucknow, Bareily, Hardoi, Sitapur, Lakhimpur Khiri, Faizabad, Gorakhpur, Varanasi and Shahjahanpur.
The project for the modernisation of mandis will soon be prepared and placed before Akhilesh for approval.

Two pairs of Asiatic lions arrive at Lucknow Zoo.

Faiz Rahman Siddiqui, TNN Dec 21, 2013, 03.09AM IST
KANPUR: Lucknow Zoo will receive two pairs of Asiatic Lions from the Sakkarbag Zoo in Gujarat for the upcoming Lion Safari in Etawah. Two pairs of lions (two males and two females) are expected to arrive by Saturday under an exchange programme with Sakkarbag Zoo in Junagadh.
Sources said that by the end of January, the four Asiatic Lions would be shifted to the breeding centre at Lion Safari in Etawah.

"We have one pair each of Asiatic lions at Lucknow and Kanpur Zoos that were procured from Hyderabad and Rajkot zoos." said director Lion Safari Gurmeet Singh. With these two pairs that we are getting from Sakkarbagh Zoo in Junagadh in Gujarat, total numbers of Asiatic lions we have procured so far for Lion Safari will reach eight. "By the end of January or in the first week of February, these royal beasts would be shifted to Lion Safari in Etawah," he said.
"At present, we are focussing on the construction work at the enclosures for the wild beasts at the breeding centre, besides the erection of nearly 8 kms of outer boundary wall and setting up of a power unit and a water tank at the Lion Safari in Fisher Forest area," he added.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had visited Etawah on October 5, 2013 and took part in the last phase of the plantation drive at the Fisher Reserve Forest area where work on the Lion Safari is underway.
To give wild beasts a natural feel, nearly 1.5 lakhs saplings were planted on nearly 1,000 acres of land within the periphery of Lion Safari in Fisher Reserve Forest situated on Etawah-Gwalior national highway.
Once the facilities are in place, visitors can drive through a thoroughfare, spotting lions roaming in the safari. The safari riders will be provided caged vehicles and they will enjoy watching wild animals roaming in the open.
Meanwhile, minister of state for zoos Shiv Pratap Yadav, principal secretary, forests and environment VN Garg and principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Rupak De, had visited London Zoo and Longleat Safari Park in England where safaris are developed.
Sources said that the safari will be developed on the pattern of London's Longleat Safari Park. The state machinery plans to develop enclosures for other wild animals such as elephants, tigers, cheetahs and zebras close to it, on the lines of the London's Park.
Some 150.83 hectares of land in Fisher Reserve Forest area was acquired and notified as lion safari in 2005.
However, 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 had approved the master layout plan of the project in December 2012.
The state government had sanctioned Rs 89 crores for the Lion Safari project and authorized Uttar Pradesh Awas Vikas Parishad for the construction and execution work.

Gujarat gives four Asiatic lions to Lucknow Zoo under animal exchange programme.

Vadodara/Lucknow: Two pairs of Asiatic lions were shifted to Uttar Pradesh from the Sakkarbag Zoo in Gujarat as part of the animal exchange programme between the zoos.

20 Dec 2013, 11:47 AM
he four lions (two males, two females) were handed over to a 10-member forest team from Uttar Pradesh which arrived in the Junagadh zoo, VJ Rana Superintendent at Sakkarbag said.
Both pairs will be housed in the Lucknow Zoo for the next few days before they are shifted to the breeding centre at the upcoming Lion Safari Park in Etawah early next year, he said.

With this new pair, Uttar Pradesh has become the abode to three pairs of Asiatic lions. It had procured two pairs of Asiatic lions from Hyderabad and Rajkot zoos in the past. While a pair is kept at Lucknow Zoo and the other is housed at Kanpur Zoo.
Meanwhile, the work at Etawah Lion Safari has reached its final stages of completion, Rana said quoting Lion Safari Director Gurmeet Singh.
Last month, the plantation of grass and trees to develop the lion habitat was completed. Once the Safari gets developed, the Uttar Pradesh government would open the place for tourists, he said.
This would be the second-of-its-kind project after Gujarat with world-class facilities for the upkeep of the royal beast.
About 150.83 hectare land in Fisher Reserve Forest area on Etawah-Gwalior National Highway was acquired and notified as Lion Safari in 2005 but it was shelved by the Mayawati government in 2007. However, it was revived after Samajwadi Party returned to power in March 2012.
The UP government had sanctioned Rs 89 crore for the Lion Safari project which includes facilities like parking, toilet, ticket counter, children park, interpretation center, bus stay, rest-shed, cafeteria, rain shelter and souvenir centre.

Dentist extracts teeth from Paignton Zoo's Asiatic lion.

One of Indu's teeth
Indu had a canine and pre-molar extracted during the operation

Indu during the operationIt is thought Indu chipped her teeth while biting on something hard, a zoo spokesman said

An Asiatic lion at a Devon zoo has had two teeth removed by a dentist who normally treats humans.
Indu had a canine and pre-molar extracted by Dr Peter Kertesz at Paignton Zoo.
The dentist, who has a surgery in London, has worked with pandas, whales and gorillas.
A zoo spokesman said it was believed the female lion had chipped her teeth while biting on something hard and that she was recovering well.
'Serious business' An adult Asiatic lion weighs about 20 stone (130 kg) and has up to 30 teeth, including canines that can be many inches in length, a zoo spokesman added.
Dr Kertesz said: "Animals or people, it's all the same - they need treatment, they get treatment. The scale and the location is what varies.
"People ask if this is just a bit of fun, but it is a very serious business. The health and sometimes the life of a rare creature is in your hands."

Uttar Pradesh gets four Gujarat lions for safari.

TNN Dec 19, 2013, 10.51AM IST
RAJKOT: Two pairs of Asiatic lions (two male, two females) from Sakkarbaug Zoo, run by state forest department, will leave for Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. The UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had sought four lions from Gujarat government for UP's proposed safari park in Etawah.
According to sources, a UP government team is in Junagadh to transport the four lions and they will be moved on Thursday.
The lions will be used for breeding at the safari park in UP. The proposed safari in UP has an enclosed area and requisite approvals from the Central Zoo Authority.
According to an official, there are around 150 Asiatic lions outside Gujarat in various zoos in India and the world.
The proposed safari at Etawah was mooted in 2005. It is going to have a breeding progamme for Asiatic lions.
Some 150 hectares in Fisher Forest on the Etawah-Gwalior national highway was acquired and notified as Lion Safari in 2005. A breeding centre, veterinary hospital along with water-bodies and approach road is being constructed for the safari.

Mumbai NGO roars against translocation of Gir lions from Gujarat to MP.

Tuesday, Dec 17, 2013, 7:26 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Karishma Goenka

Last month, Mumbai NGO Empower Foundation wrote to a panel created to study and chart out translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir sanctuary in Gujarat to Kuno Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, asking them to stay the trans-location till various issues are not resolved.
The NGO has cited more than 29 violations of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines and other points why the trans-location plan might be a failure. They highlighted MP’s gun culture and rampant poaching that makes conditions adverse for lions.
“Madhya Pradesh constitutes about 50% of the world’s tiger poaching besides the risky co-existence of the lion and tiger makes it unsuitable for trans-location...  Also, the expert panel does not consist of a lion specialist, only tiger experts. They should consult experts, maybe from Africa, to find out how lions might react to trans-location,” says Jalpesh Mehta, founder of Empower Foundation who has also written to the IUCN and Maneka Gandhi, seeking  intervention.
The last census of 2010 recorded the population of Asiatic lions to 411. Earlier this year,  the Supreme Court directed the MoEF to take steps to reintroduce the Gir lions in Kuno. A report by two senior members of the expert panel raised concerns on trans-location over tolerance of local communities in Kuno to man-animal conflicts might be lesser than Gujarat.
Experts say it is important to avoid concentration of a species in one place to eliminate risk of extinction from epidemics and natural calamities. “It is important to have a small number placed in a different area... Kuno sanctuary was our best option from many others. What we need now is the Madhya Pradesh government to come forward with assurances on how it will prepare for trans-location. We’ll discuss it at our next meeting,” said AJT Johnsingh, member of the expert panel and veteran biologist.