Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Navsari youths eat leopard's bait.

Navsari youths eat leopard's bait
SURAT: Police in Navsari district are puzzled over the theft of a goat worth Rs 10,000 from a cage at Kalmatha village on Wednesday. The goat was a bait to catch a leopard. A written complaint has been submitted at Bilimora police station in this regard.

Police have begun preliminary investigation and are likely to register a first information report (FIR) after taking the statements of the people. Villagers said the goat was stolen in the night and was cooked and eaten by a few Kalmatha youths.

Deputy sarpanch of Kalmatha village Chandrakant Patel in a written complaint has demanded action. "The leopard is a threat to villagers and cattle. But the thieves have disrupted our plan to catch it by eating the bait," Patel said.

The villagers had alerted the forest department on spotting the leopard in the area. The forest officials found pugmarks of the leopard and immediately installed a cage near the village with a 20kg goat inside it as bait a few days ago.

Patel used to remove the goat from the cage in the morning and tie it back in the evening, as instructed by the forest officials. "When I went to get the goat it was missing. I immediately informed other villagers. A few residents of neighbouring village Maroli informed us that they had spotted a few youths cutting and cooking a goat in an open area between the two villages," Patel said.

The goat had been given by a villager to nab the leopard. Villagers are now arranging another goat to trap the leopard.

"Investigation is on in the matter. Police will register the statements of the suspects and the complainant. An FIR will registered soon," in charge investigating officer of Bilimora police station Shantilal Pawar said.

Mount Girnar: The House of Gods and Lions.


Gir National Park in Gujarat is home to many animals like lions, deer and peacocks.
  • IndiaIn January 2014, I traveled to Ahmedabad, India to preside over a conference on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Trauma Care (TC). I led the U.S delegation and trained 100 surgeons in trauma care in Mumbai. After the successful seminar, along with my two nephews Hemant and Bharat, we took an eight-hour car ride to Junagadh to visit Mount Girnar for a pilgrimage to ancient Jain temples and also to visit the Gir National Park for a lion safari.

    We arrived at Junagadh at night and the next morning at 5 a.m., we rode 6 kilometers to reach Mount Girnar. We started on a two-mile long and steep climb of 9000 steps to reach various temples on the mountains. After two hours of climbing, covering 4000 steps, we reached the main Jain temple dedicated to 22nd Jain Tirthankara (God) Neminath (there are 24 Jain Tirthankaras.)
    There were hundreds of pilgrims there for worship — some climbed and some were carried in a chair, called “doly,” lifted by two men. This ancient temple has existed for thousands of years. Mount Girnar has a volcanic origin and has five peaks at 3600 feet above sea level. It has a large number of Jain and Hindu temples.
    The present magnificent main Jain temple of black granite stone was built during 1128 and 1159 A.D. The carvings and architecture of the entire temple are awesome. I could not fathom how such a massive structure with intricate sculptures was built on such a steep mountain and at such a height. The temple has a 61-inch-high black marble statue, in a sitting posture, of 22nd Jain Tirthankara Neminath, who lived around 3100 B.C. As per the Jain historians, the statue is thousands of years old. The temple has a large courtyard that is 139 meters long and 58 meters wide, with 70 cells containing all 24 Jain Tirthankaras’ marble idols for worship.

    Tirthankara Neminath was a prince in the Gujarat region and was known as Arishtanemi. On his wedding day, he saw a large number of wailing animals in a fenced area. On enquiry, he found out that these animals were going to be slaughtered for his wedding feast. Pained with the planned killings of the animals, Arishtanemi liberated the caged animals and abandoned his wedding. Later on, he left his kingdom and traveled to Mount Girnar to become a Jain monk. He prayed and meditated for 54 days on Mount Girnar and attained enlightenment.
    Afterwards, for many years he traveled all over India and preached Jainism. He taught the practice of non-violence, truth, detachment from worldly possessions and bodily pleasures, equanimity, respect for all religions and views, charity and compassion. After many years of travel and teaching, he returned to Mount Girnar where he attained nirvana, as his soul was liberated from all karmas. It is the karmas, both good and bad, which keep the soul in the painful cycle of life, death and rebirth. Jains believe that practicing the principles of Jainism allows one to shed all karmas and achieve a final liberation from the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
    After the climb, we had a traditional hot water bath and changed into worship attire. Jain worship is done by touching the idol of Tirthankara with saffron and sandalwood paste and offering flowers. When I touched the ancient statue of Neminath for puja (worship), I felt content and tranquil. After the worship, we prayed and meditated in the temple for blessings. Later on, we climbed to reach other temples for puja and prayers. It was amazing that after so much of steep climbing in the hot sun, there was minimal feeling of tiredness or exhaustion. The enthusiasm and energy excelled and we completed the pilgrimage. While descending, I contemplated life, living and its final destination. In the practice of Jainism, an annual pilgrimage to ancient Jain temples is a necessity for salvation. It was with the sense of divinity, elation and achievement that we reached the base and enjoyed a freshly prepared delicious late lunch.
    The next morning, we left Junagadh at 7 a.m. and reached the Sasan lion safari area by 8 a.m. Sasan is an entry portal of the national park and sanctuary. The forest covers an area of 19,393 square kilometers. The terrain of mountains and forests is mainly of volcanic origin. The large Shetrunji River runs in its midst. This forest has some 300 water points and is home to 36 species of mammals, 300 species of birds and 37 species of reptiles. The main carnivorous animals are lions, leopards, jungle cats, hyenas, jackals and mongoose, while the herbivores are deer, sambars, antelopes and wild boars. The reptiles in the forest include crocodiles, lizards, pythons, cobras and tortoises. There are also many varieties of small and large birds like eagles, woodpeckers, peacocks and parakeets.

    We started the safari at 9 a.m. with eight jeeps, each with its own guide. It was an adventurous ride that lasted four hours.  We saw two large male lions, one resting and the other yawning with a wide, open mouth. Within a few feet of the lions, our jeeps halted and we took lots of photographs. The lions didn’t bother to look at us at all. Nobody in any of the jeeps had any arms for protection. We saw a number of beautiful spotted deer moving in groups right in the vicinity of the lions. We also saw lots of antelopes, sambar deer, peacocks and other rare birds and animals from quite up close.
    The tour was a photographer’s paradise. The animals in their natural habitat looked comfortable despite the presence of the jeeps and tourists. In the jungle, we saw many settlements of a tribe called Maldharis. The Maldharis have been living in the area for many centuries, raising livestock. The fearless Maldharis live and move around the forest with ease and just carry a long stick for their protection. In the nearby Junagadh zoo, which was established in 1863, there is a lion breeding center. The center has bred some 180 lions in captivity.

    The Mount Girnar area showed us, the tourists, a completely peaceful coexistence of trees, birds, animals, humans and yes, gods (in their temples). The philosophy of “live and let live” is very much alive and flourishing in these mountains and forests. The Gujarat government must be complimented for availing multiple tourist facilities to worship gods and also to enjoy the forest’s flora, fauna and animals in their natural habitat. The authorities’ conservation and animal care efforts are praiseworthy. The Gujarat government has built a large modern facility for tourists to stay in as well as forest activities at Sasan. Over 100,000 tourists visit the area annually. I wish many more tourists would visit and take advantage of the facilities and enjoy the thrilling visit.
    About the Writer:
    Navin C. Shah
    M.D., M.S., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S., F.A.C.I.P.
    Diplomat of the American Board of Urology
    Diplomat of the American Board of Quality Assurance

Badshah, Jaipur zoo's oldest lion dies.

JAIPUR: The twenty-three-year-old lion of Jaipur Zoo popularly known as 'Badshah' was given a tearful adieu on Tuesday. He died from multiple organ failure due to cancer at 9.30am. He had reached the highest life expectancy for Asiatic lions and his death has shook the zoo caretakers and animal lovers who will miss his roar. Badshah's last movement was spotted last night when he changed his place near a cooler in his cage. He blinked his eyes last at 9am, said the guards who were monitoring him round-the-clock. After that he never woke up. The zoo's oldest occupant's last day was attended by the entire staff. His body was garlanded by roses and cremated.

The cancer was diagnosed last week after he didn't touch the beef given to him in his cage. His blood test sent to veterinary hospital in Bareilly which confirmed that he had a 6-inch-long malignant adenocarcinoma cancer in his throat around his food and wind pipe. "This is a rarest of the rare cancer in lions and a new revelation in medical science as far as my knowledge is concerned. His cancer was malignant with no survival chances as it had affected his other vital organs like kidney, liver and heart," said Dr Arvind Mathur, veterinary doctor at Jaipur Zoo.

Since then the zoo team swung into action and made a control room inside the zoo to monitor him round-the-clock. They changed his diet from beef to chicken and gave him water mixed with glucose for instant energy to fight the disease. He breathed his last at 9.30am on Tuesday. The post-mortem also revealed that Badshah's vital organs had failed. He was the only animal to have spent two decades in the zoo and his roar was admired by crores of visitors.

Known for his roar and frequent appearances out of cage, Badshah was the only lion in Jaipur. "Unlike tigers and lions, he had the tendency of appearing before the visitors. He was favourite among the caretakers also as he had never made any attempt to hit anyone," said Akanksha Chaudhary, deputy conservator (forest), Jaipur Zoo. The Jaipur Zoo authorities are now planning to get a pair of lions either from Rajkot Zoo or Junagarh Zoo. "The talks are in advanced staged. I am sure that soon Jaipur Zoo will hear the roar of lions," said Aakansha.

'Little Africa’ in India'

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

India could soon help bring back an extinct, spectacular species of lions.

India could soon help bring back an extinct, spectacular species of lions
Barbary lions of North Africa extending from Egypt to Morocco were also called the Atlas lions and had the most spectacular physical features of all lion species. (Getty Images photo)

LONDON: India could soon help bring back an extinct lion species. DNA tests by an international team of scientists has confirmed the lions in India have close genetic links with the now extinct Barbary lions.

This means that "reseeding" Indian lions could bring back the extinct species and reintroduce lions into North Africa.

Less than 400 Asiatic lions survive at present on the Kathiawar Peninsula of India and the species is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Barbary lions of North Africa — including mountainous regions — extending from Egypt to Morocco were also called the Atlas lions and had the most spectacular physical features of all lion species. The lion's extensive mane made it look majestic. It was a lot larger with differently-coloured eyes to other lions.

Dr Ross Barnett of Copenhagen University, who had started the research during his days at Durham University in UK, sequenced the DNA from the skulls of two Barbary lions once held in Britain's Tower of London. It has helped reveal the origin of modern lions.

The skulls of these lions dated as living in the 14th and 15th centuries were discovered preserved in the Tower of London's moat.

Dr Barnett said he was surprised by the incredibly close relationship between the extinct Barbary lion from North Africa and the Asian lion from India. This he says could now get conservationists start talking about resurrecting the subspecies and reintroducing lions into North Africa"

Despite the large geographical distances between them, the Indian lions seem to be closely related to Iranian lions and the Barbary lions of North Africa.

The study says: "In the tiger, another charismatic felid species, studies of ancient mitochondrial DNA have suggested a close relationship between the extinct central Asian Caspian tiger and the extant Amur tiger. This has allowed conservationists to discuss the translocation of Amur tiger stock to occupy the former range of the Caspian tiger with support from the World Tiger Summit. Similarly, if no examples of purebred Barbary lions can be found within the zoo population, there might be scope for restoration of the North African lion population using the closely related Indian lion."

A genetic analysis of living lions and museum specimens confirms modern lions' most recent common ancestor lived around 124,000 years ago.

Dr Barnett said, "Understanding the demographic history of a population is critical to conservation. This is particularly true for the lion which as a consequence of millennia of human persecution, has large gaps in its natural distribution and several recently extinct populations. We sequenced mitochondrial DNA from museum-preserved individuals including the extinct Barbary lion and Iranian lion as well as lions from West and Central Africa. We have identified deep, well-supported splits within the mitochondrial phylogeny of African lions."

The lion had one of the largest geographical distributions of any terrestrial mammal during the Late Pleistocene, ranging from southern Africa through northern Eurasia to Central America. Widespread hunting and anthropogenic changes to lion habitat are continuing to reduce lion populations across their entire range.

The research says: "From the DNA analysis, we identified four new mitochondrial haplotypes: one from North Africa, one from a suspected Barbary lion present in medieval London, one from Iran, and one from Senegal. Four of the six Barbary lions exhibited sequence identical to that of the extant Indian lion."

"International bodies currently recognize only two lion conservation units: African and Asian lions. The data clearly show that Asian lions are nested within the diversity present in Central, West and North Africa. Of particular concern are the central African and western African populations, which may be close to extinction, with estimates of 800 lions in West Africa and 900 lions in Central Africa. The close phylogenetic relationships among Barbary, Iranian, and Indian lion populations are noteworthy given their considerable geographical separation. The restoration of the extinct North African Barbary lion has attracted the attention of conservationists both inside and outside North Africa," it added.

S.F. designer Ken Fulk works to bring back saber-tooth tiger

Ken Fulk with a cat he calls "Tatiana."
Ken Fulk with a cat he calls “Tatiana.”
San Francisco interior designer Ken Fulk, known for his eclectic style, lavish parties, tech/ social media clients including Sean Parker, and writeups about his work in Vanity Fair, issued a news release today stating that his love of taxidermy has led him to donate a rare saber-tooth tiger from his collection to Stewart Brand’s Revive & Restore Foundation, for the purpose of using cells to clone a cat with the help of UC-Santa Cruz’s paleogenomics lab.
“Fulk’s 10,000-year-old specimen, which was gifted to him during his annual vacation to the Alaskan fishing village of Noatak, was discovered frozen in a glacier cave near Eschscholtz Bay,” stated the news release, accompanied by the photo shown above. “By extracting DNA from the fur and claws of this incredibly preserved saber-toothed tiger, the geneticists at University of California-Santa Cruz paleogenomics lab may be able to bring the prehistoric large cat back from extinction. Using the genome of an Asiatic lion as a model, the scientists will attempt to recode Smilodon’s genome to create a living cell that would then be used with existing cloning technology.
It’s outlandish, but not beyond the realm of what Fulk might try some day — today. (April Fool’s, everyone.) But in fact, the New York Times wrote about Brand’s foundation and attempts to bring back extinct animals, such as passenger pigeons in a February issue of the magazine.
“Everyone takes themselves too seriously,” said Fulk, reached this afternoon by phone. Fulk, who was preparing for an All Fool’s Day party he is throwing tonight for 300 invited guests, said the news release was e-mailed to guests as a reminder to stop by, but also as a way to have fun.

“My father had an elaborate April Fool’s joke for our family, when I was growing up in Virginia,” Fulk said. “I was obsessed with animals as a kid, so he would say he’d seen some exotic animal on our property, a provide all kinds of purported proof.”
Fulk has never been to Alaska, but said he researched the names of various cities and organizations to bolster his claim.
The animal pictured is not a saber-tooth tiger, but a female lion whose coat had been dyed and tusks added. Fulk said he acquired the taxidermied animal, originally part of a diorama, from a decommissioned museum in the Midwest.

African cheetah dies in Junagadh zoo.

RAJKOT: A 12-year-old male African cheetah died in Junagadh's Sakkarbaug Zoo on Monday.

According to zoo officials, the cheetah named 'Lestad', died due to liver and kidney failure caused because of old age. The wildcat was born in Singapore Zoo in 2002.

According to forest department officials, four cheetahs were brought to Junagadh from Singapore under Animal Exchange Programme in 2009. Sakkarbaug Zoo got four African Cheetahs — two males and two females — in exchange of Asiatic lions.

Out of four cheetahs, three died earlier. Now, only one female cheetah is left at the zoo. Forest officials said normal life of a cheetah in captivity is 10 to 12 years.

Lone voter in Gir: Why this temple priest is one of India's most prized voters.

IANS [ Updated 21 Apr 2014, 12:57:53 ]
Lone voter in Gir: Why this temple priest is one of India's most prized voters
Ahmedabad: He remains one of India's most prized voters. Mahant Bharatdas Darshandas is the lone voter in the midst of Gujarat's Gir forest, home to the Asiatic lion, for whom an entire election team sets up a polling booth every election - and will do so again on April 30.

Darshandas, in his early 60s, is the lone occupant of a hamlet called Banej in Gir forest. He has been casting his vote for the past elections, including the 2004 and 2009 parliamentary elections and the 2007 and 2012 state elections.

This time too, the Election Commission of India is making all arrangements to ensure that Darshandas, a temple priest, gets to cast his precious single vote.

Darshandas lives in Banej Tirthdham, a pilgrimage spot inside the Gir sanctuary and looks after an ancient Shiva temple there.

With the Election Commission mandating that no voter should "ordinarily travel more than 2km to reach the booth", every election time a polling team travels around 35 km to reach the hamlet of Banej inside the Gir forest, located in Junagadh district.

"We are only following the EC guidelines, which has said that no voter should have to travel more than 2 km to vote," Junagadh Collector Alok Kumar Pandey told IANS on phone.

"Around four-five polling officials will travel to Banej on April 29 night carrying with them the polling material, including the Electronic Voting Machine. They will be accompanied by forest guards. On April 30 they will set up the polling booth for the single voter," Pandey said.

Wildlife Gives a Wake Up Call for Our Survival.

Lessons from conservation photographers Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson
By , Epoch Times | April 19, 2014
His voice carries a palpable sense of urgency, “We are in the eleventh hour!” he says. His passion for life undeniable, “Honoring life, is more important than any interpretation of life,” Cyril Christo continues as he shares snippets of his life story, his raison d’être.
The poet, Oscar-nominated filmmaker, wildlife photographer, and son of the renowned artist-couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude does not care for fame (he grew up with it) or even for the permanence of his work, he explains during a phone interview. “If we could stop the ivory trade, I would burn every [photo] negative tomorrow,” he says. Representations of wildlife essentially do not matter. He would rather see those animals thriving in their natural habitat. He writes, photographs, and films to inspire others in a call to action.
“We have to have a Marshall Plan immediately for how we treat the earth, for utter respect and survival.” About 40,000 African elephants are killed every year—that is, one every 15 minutes—at the hands of poachers. At that rate, elephants could become extinct within just 10 years.
If only time could be extended so as to fully grasp the rich tapestry of all the stories Christo begins to tell, but are left trailing. Time spent in nature in all its plethora of wonder and beauty can leave you tranquil and amazed. It’s incredibly challenging to be able to communicate that experience. Christo tries to convey how intricately interconnected nature is.
Each line of thought could turn into a lengthy poem with a powerful purpose. Each leads to the same conclusion: respect life. Christo recounts a lucid dream with words that left a profound impression, “Hold on to the waters of life.”
Animals signal and warn us of climate change because “they form part of the immune system of our planet,” he says. Melting arctic ice leaves polar bears starving to death in their shrinking habitat. With forests dwindling, some tigers have gone rogue, hunting people instead of calves, like the so-called man-eating tiger in India’s Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand states in recent months.
There are only about 3,200 tigers left, compared to 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. Only about 15,000 wild lions are left in Africa, compared to 200,000 just 30 years ago.
Africa’s forest elephant plays a key role in maintaining the second largest rainforest in the world in the Congo Basin. Those rainforests are the lungs of earth. The seeds of forest trees can only germinate after passing through an elephant’s digestive tract. “So we have all sorts of climactic ramifications with the loss of 80 to 90 percent of the forest elephant,” Christo says.
What has concerned Christo and conservationists for years is starting to get through to some world leaders. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a U.N. report on March 31 warning that the state of the environment is reaching a tipping point. The Obama administration says it is taking this new report as a call for action, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying, “The costs of inaction are catastrophic.”
That message echoes what Christo learned from Hopi, Navaho, and Apache elders, who told him that the next five years are crucial. The year 2020 could be the point of no return. For Christo, that means a climate bill.
Conservation Power Couple
Christo generates all of his projects with his wife, Marie Wilkinson, an architect who started taking photographs as a hobby. Their sideline soon developed into books, films, and campaigns. They vigorously opposed the ivory trade and protested bad environmental bills put forward in the Legislature of New Mexico where the couple lives.
They have traveled twice around the world, especially where there are no electric lights, where more stars can be seen, where the thunderous roar of lions wakes up your soul, and where indigenous elders have profound lessons to teach us.
“Slowly we started to entwine,” Wilkinson says. That is evident in the way they converse with each other—synergistic and full of energy. “How we got into elephants is because of looking at indigenous people, how we got into indigenous people is how we were looking at culture and place. … It became quite clear that different cultures had different stories that showed an incredible understanding and respect and connection to the places that they lived,” Wilkinson explains.
Christo elaborates, “Native people have a near mystical understanding and appreciation of animals. And we have made them, since the French enlightenment, into almost robotic beings to be dissected and things to be manipulated.”
Nanfang Daily, a local newspaper in Zhanjian, in China’s Guangdong Province, recently published a shocking report. A party of local officials and well-heeled folks had a “fun day” by electrocuting at least 10 tigers. They called it “visual feast” entertainment. The tigers’ body parts were then given away as expensive gifts or sold on the black market.
In sharp contrast, Christo and Wilkinson strive to reverse that depravity, the popular trend of dominating the forces of nature. As artists and conservationists, they encourage us to understand and “incorporate those forces” instead.
In Predatory Light
Reading Christo and Wilkinson’s third and latest book, “In Predatory Light: Lions, Tigers and Polar Bears” (review)— one of Amazon’s Top 10 nature and photography titles of 2013—becomes a visceral, cinematic experience, taking the reader to a place and time when humans and predators cohabited peaceably. Christo and Wilkinson call it a truce.
“The lions would go to the water hole at night and the Bushmen would go drink during the day when it was warm and there would never be antagonism,” Christo wrote. There is the tale of a tiger in the Gir forest of India that would regularly hunker down by a sadhu’s temple to listen to the bell being rung every evening.
Christo and Wilkinson take black and white photographs, they do not alter them, and they develop their images from celluloid negatives. The images have a raw beauty to them.
The couple might wait for days or even weeks to photograph a tiger. “The thing about the tiger is: you can go looking for a tiger, but you are not going to find a tiger. The tiger is going to choose to reveal itself,” Wilkinson says. The couple would drive through the woods for hours and hours through Bandhavgarh National Park in India. Then at the most unexpected moment a huge, vibrant, tiger would suddenly appear. In seconds Wilkinson would barely get her camera ready before the tiger would disappear into the forest—just as quickly as it had appeared.
Describing her encounter, she conveys how predators command respect. “They look straight at you. It’s like they look into your soul. They are both knowing and menacing. You don’t mess with them, even if you want to scratch them behind the ear,” Wilkinson says.
In their natural environment predators are not prone to killing humans in the way that some humans are prone to killing them for sheer entertainment or blood money. “We understand now the disorder that we are living throughout the entire world, that kids are undergoing, is because we don’t have that millennial relationship with the organic world,” Christo says.
Traveling Childhood
Christo encountered that organic world at a young age. He grew up shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic between France, Tunisia, and New York.
In Paris his family lived near the Guimet Museum, which was full of Asian artifacts; he lived in a small castle with lots of books in northern France; in New York City, he lived in a loft with rats running around and where he played with his father’s paintbrushes; he saw Bedouins in southern Tunisia, ate couscous, and swam with his favorite uncle. He called these and other temporary residences “a little bit of the best of the New World and the Old World.”
When he turned 15, Christo tired of New York City and trekked to Africa to climb Mount Kenya with other students in an international exchange program. They started at 10,000 feet and climbed up to 13,000 feet the first day. Christo carried a 40-pound backpack in a downpour for nine hours through what he calls a “miasma of pure mud and hell.” The next day they went up to 17,000 feet and survived the first of many, in his words, “amazing trials.”
He contemplated the volcanic Chyulu hills overlooking Kilimanjaro, and a parade of elephants going right by his tent. He heard lions roaring at night. “It’s an acoustic blast summoning you to the beginning of time,” he recalls. He says that whole experience “moves in your spirit for the rest of your life.” That experience, bigger than himself, strengthened Christo’s character, and instilled in him a sense of purpose.
Despite, or maybe because of, his extraordinary background and journey growing up, Christo has a humble demeanor. “I wasn’t trained to do anything, but wanted to verbalize concerns, to try to remind people how extraordinary the world is,” he says. In some ways he has learned more from traveling than from his studies at Columbia University where he felt “a bit discombobulated.”
Lessons From the Elders 
Christo and Wilkinson have developed an immense appreciation for nature in its stark contrast to a world where people think they would be at a loss without their smartphones and other gadgets, where obesity is on the rise, and where children spend more time playing video games than playing outdoors.
They discovered that the Maasai, the semi-nomadic people in Kenya and Tanzania, do not even have a term for nature because the Maasai don’t see a separation. They know how to farm in the deserts and scrublands. Their invaluable survival skills may finally be recognized as a way to cope with climate change.
Like the Maasai, the Inuit in the Arctic regions understand that everything is reciprocal. “The life force for the Inuit is also part of the mind. If you don’t respect the weather, it affects your mind. If you don’t respect the polar bear, your spirit is upset,” Christo says.
A San Bushman baby of southern Africa receives the name of the first star seen at the baby’s birth, he says. This close connection to the cosmos gets lost in an urban environment. In the big city, city lights wipe out the starlight.
Today, people are unable to see the whole picture. Christo says we only see bits and pieces of what’s important. “The Samburu elders, who have their totem called the elephant, said that we [in the modern world] are interested in body parts.”
People kill tigers for their fur, or claws, teeth, bones, whiskers, and whatever else to make medicines. Poachers kill elephants for one relatively small body part: their tusks. The illegal ivory trade fuels half a billion dollars in annual profit (video: God’s Ivory).
“What we lost is the association with life. The modern world does not honor truly anything, to be quite frank. It honors profit and that is something that is costing the life force itself. We will not be able to survive without the other beings,” Christo says.
Humans as well as other living beings depend on a survivable environment. “There’s no amount of money that can supplant a species, an ecosystem, a river, what the Amazon gives us, the phytoplankton.” It seems we are stuck in an ethos of scarcity with the false assumption that profit can only be gained through destruction.
Although the IPCC report, put together by 1,250 experts, gives a grim assessment, it assures that a climate change catastrophe can be prevented without sacrificing living standards. If we have the willpower, we have the capacity and the green technology to turn the tide. It could even be profitable—in a sustainable way. Secretary of State Kerry contends that the global energy market represents a $6 trillion opportunity and that investment in the energy sector could reach nearly $17 trillion by 2035.
But to turn that tide requires concerted action, and that action can only stem from a broader understanding of nature and ourselves. Christo recalls, “The Native American elders say, ‘Do not fight against yourselves, you will have enough to deal with Mother Nature.’”
Climate change will contribute to escalating global security problems, like strife and fights over resources, like water, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning IPCC reports.
“We have to ask ourselves, ‘What kind of relationship do we want?’ because we are creating a society that destroys relationships. … The alienation is also with those other beings that are not human but that have an immense amount of things to teach us about who we are,” Christo says.
Those predators keep us in check. If we eliminate the last predators on earth, Christo argues humans will be in danger of self-cannibalizing. “We’ve got to honor existence again or otherwise we won’t even be in survival mode. We will be in a mode we have to make sure we don’t strangle each other. We are not thriving,” he adds.
Overcoming Obstacles, Creating for the Future
The immediacy conveyed in Christo’s voice also shows a hint of anxiety and frustration with the obstacles he’s confronted with. He calls it an “incredible parochialism of the mass lack of imagination” of those who are not concerned about climate change. He wants to make sure the earth will be sustainable for his own son and for the future of all children.
Christo and Wilkinson are now looking to fund a feature film, titled “Walking Thunder: The Last Stand of the African Elephant.” They are dedicating it to their 8-year-old son, Lysander, who learned to walk in Africa. It will be a personal vision based on their encounters with the native people of East Africa and the importance of the elephant to the human condition.
Christo and Wilkinson say, “We are going to go a lot further with this next film. What does the future of the elephant have to do with the future of childhood? The answer is: absolutely everything! Civilization will stand or fall on the back of the African elephant.”
For more information about Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson:

Asiatic lion trapped in cage kept for leopard.

Press Trust of India  |  Vadodara 
Last Updated at 22:41 IST
A male Asiatic lion got trapped in a cage which was kept to capture a leopard in adjoining Gir Somnath district.

The incident took place in near Virodar village under Sutrapada taluka this morning.

The lion will be released in the Gir forest, the last abode of this endangered species, said Aradhana Sahu, Deputy Conservator Forest at Junagadh.

She said this was a rare incident of a lion getting trapped in a cage.

The cage was intended to capture a leopard who was spotted roaming near the village and had killed cattle.

Gujarat catches fancy of Bollywood.

AHMEDABAD: The trend that started with Aamir Khan's 'Lagan' continues with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela'. Gujarat, especially Kutch and its vast vistas, has become a favourite haunt for many Bollywood filmmakers. There have been over a dozen films, including Bollywood flicks and ad movies from Mumbai, shot in Gujarat in the past two years.

"Barring snow capped mountains of Himalayas, Gujarat has everything - from thick green forest to semi-arid meadows, desert landscape, mountains and coastal beauty. There are so many unexplored places that can give a splendid delight to the viewers when shot," said veteran Bollywood cinematographer Amitabha Singh.

Amitabha, who produced 'The Good Road', the movie that went to the Oscars last year, shot his directorial debut 'The trip' in the forest of Dang and Sara in Valsad in October 2013 and January 2014. "'The Trip' is a working title of my film which stars Jimmy Shergil in the lead. My relationship with Gujarat started with 'The Good Road', for which I've also done cinematography. During its pre-production, I had the chance to travel the length and breadth of Gujarat. Apart from beautiful landscape, I think, things which attract the movie makers the most is a hassle-free environment. The government is very cooperative and prompt in granting permissions. Also, people are very helpful. During the stressful shooting schedules, not once did I lose a minute due to inconvenience cause by the people," he said. Echoed Johnny Baweja, co-producer and lead actor of an English film, 'Swen', which was shot extensively in Kutch in 2011. "Prompt permission by the government for shooting was a pleasant surprise for me when I came here with my unit. Inspired by visuals shown in 'Lagan', we decided to explore Kutch and shot in Bhuj. People's support was great. The environment was very vibrant," Baweja said.

Ahmedabad: The unexplored locations of Gujarat are the main draw for Bollywood filmmakers, believes Jitendra Chauhan, a line producer. Chauhan has worked with several Hindi filmmakers as well as ad filmmakers from Mumbai.

"Locations in Mumbai, Delhi and Rajasthan are now overexposed. Filmmakers are always in search of new locations and Gujarat has so many locations to offer that it will take eight to 10 years for the filmmakers to reach the interesting corners of the state," he said.

"Crack land in Little Rann of Kutch is different from the one near Jaipur in Rajashtan. The crack land here caused by summer heat is visually more exotic. So, whenever you travel to the Rann, chances are that you might bump into one or other film unit camping there," said Chauhan.

In Kutch, there are several communities like Jat, Mutwa, Rabari, Medhwal who wear completely different designs of costumes and jewellery made of ivory which are a visual delight for any one with a camera.

In addition, temples and palaces preserved by Archeological Survey of India are another attraction. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,' was shot in Mandvi Palace; Tigmanshu Dhulia's 'Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster', was shot in Devgadh Baria Palace; and Indra Kumar's 'Grand Masti' was shot in Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara. That apart, a portion of 'Kai Po Chhe' was shot in Diu fort, said Chauhan.

Gujarat is the only state in the country offering such biodiversity, says filmmaker Vijay K Patel. "It has the longest coastline, and Gir, Dang and Polo forests. Moreover, it boasts of having the world's only white desert. The cultural diversity is even more attractive. The sand found here is different and looks exotic on screen," said Patel, who has made Gujarati film 'Canvas'.

Top 8 Wildlife Sanctuaries In India.

Being a vast bio-diverse region, India is a home to a huge verity of flora and fauna. India is located within the Indomalaya Ecozone and houses a large forest cover in different parts of the country. These forests are a home to about 7.6% of mammals, 12.6% of Avifauna and 6.2% of reptilian species found in the world. The forests covers of the Western Ghats, the Andamans and the Northeastern India are few of the major wildlife hotspots in India and a home to a plethora of endangered species like the Tiger, Lion, Elephants, Leopards, Deer etc. Here are the top 8 wildlife sanctuaries one must visit in India.
Bandhavgarh National Park (Image Credits @ Zoe Sands)

Located in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh, the Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the most popular wildlife destinations in India and is visited by a huge number of tourists. The national park is home to the highest population of Tigers and Leopards in India. The area is a rich biodiverse region with a huge number of flourishing and endangered wildlife species. The park is a home to animals like Tigers, Sambar, Nilgai and the Great Indian Bison etc.
Corbett National Park (Image Credits @ Focuztours)

The oldest National Park and forest reserves in India, it is named after the famous British naturalist Jim Corbett and is located in the State of Uttrakhand. This park is also famous for being a major Tiger Reserve in India and is a home to a verity of flora and fauna. The majority of the park is located in the valley formed by the Ramganga River which is a tributary of the historic Ganges River and is a home to species like Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Black bears, Sloth, chital, Sambar and several species of monkeys and ape etc.
Kanha National Park (Image Credits @ d & c)

The largest national park in central India, the Kanha National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh. The park stretches across an area of approximately 940 square kilometers and is home to a huge number of plant and animal species. It is also considered to be the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel The Jungle Book and contains animal species like the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Sloth Bear, Leopards and the Indian wild dog etc.
Kaziranga National Park (Image Credits @ aspicio)

Located in the State of Assam, Kaziranga National Park is a World Heritage Site and holds two third of the world’s one horned Rhinoceroses. It is probably one of the most elaborate forest reserves in India with countless species of birds, reptiles, plants and animals. The national park is also a popular tiger reserve and contains various species like tiger, leopard, sloth bear, pangolin and Rhinoceros.
Sunderban National Park (Image Credits @ kirainet)

Located in the State of West Bengal, the Sunderban National Park is a vast biodiverse region which is covered by mangrove forests and is one of the largest tiger reserves in India. It is also home to a huge number of salt water crocodiles and is one of their major habitats in this region. Apart from tigers and crocodiles the national park is a home to leopards, wild cats, flying fox, pangolin, chital etc.
Gir Forest National Park (Image Credits @ Foto Martien)

Located in the State of Gujarat, the Gir Forest National Park is one of the prime protected areas of the Asiatic Lions. The region’s ecosystem and the vast wildlife are supported by a number of perennial rivers and Dams that work as the lifeline of the park. There are around a 2,375 identified species of various genre of wildlife present in the forests with 38 species of mammals, 37 species of reptiles and 300 species of birds.
Periyar National Park (Image Credits @ Oktoberfrosten)

Located in the State of Kerala, the Periyar National Park is located in southern hills of the Western Ghats. It is considered as a major Tiger and Elephant reserve in India and is located high in the hills of the Southern western Ghats. The national park is a home to 35 different species of mammals, 256 species of birds, 45 species of reptiles and 40 species of fish and many of these are endemic to this region.
Ranthambore National Park (Image Credits @ Gecko's Adventures Images)

Located in the State of Ranthambore (Rajasthan), Ranthambore National Park is known as a popular tiger reserve. Its unique landscape and low forest covers as compared to the other regions in India makes Tiger watch a specialty of this park and Tigers can often be found strolling in the ruins of the Majestic Ranthambore Fort. What were once the hunting grounds of the Jaipur Royal family is now a home to these majestic cats and other species like leopards, Nilgai, sambar, hyena, sloth bear etc.

Indian is a land blessed with a huge number of endemic species of wildlife and plant species. The rich and diverse landscape of India is helpful in containing and maintaining these majestic and endangered animals and plants. These above mentioned National Parks and Forest reserves are a must visit to get in touch with your wild side in wild and untamed India.
About the author:
is a travel blogger and an Architect. He likes exploring the various places and cultures across the world and in India. He also owns and maintains the website which provides information about the various tourist locations in India.

Blog: Gujarat's development pre-dates Modi considerably.

(Reetika Khera is a development economist and teaches at IIT-Delhi)
At 16, a boy my age moved from Patna (Bihar) to Baroda (Gujarat), my hometown. He was gushing about the city - regular electricity supply, roads, the women using them even late into the night, unchaperoned, on two-wheelers, decked up and wearing backless cholis during garba. He couldn't believe his eyes. Never having visited Bihar, I couldn't understand what he was going on about.

Another time, my father was on a business trip through Punjab. On the train, he met another Punjabi businessman and they began discussing profits. When my father mentioned the cost of electricity, the other gentleman was perplexed, "You have to pay your electricity bills? How do you make a profit?" My father was as puzzled as I had been by the Patna boy's comments.

These anecdotes are from 1989. First-time visitors to Gujarat today gush like the 16-year-old from Bihar did then. In fact, there was (and is) much to appreciate about Gujarat beyond regular electricity supply, good roads and booming industry: functional government schools, mid-day meals since 1984, anganwadis (called "balwadis"), state transport buses, public works. Gujarat was something of a pioneer - not quite a Kerala, but not far behind.

In pre-school, we got a glass of cold milk everyday (we drank it only because it was served in colourful plastic glasses!). Today, the media harps on the "free cycle" schemes initiated in some states as an incentive for girls' schooling. In Gujarat, girls' education has been free for the longest time, certainly since my time in classes 8-12 (even in an aided school).  In university, the fee for my BA degree (1992-1995) was Rs. 36/year.

In rural areas too, things were not too bad. As protected school children, our only exposure to rural Gujarat was through "nature education camps" (to Gir forest and Pirotan Islands) and annual school picnics along the banks of the Narmada. I learnt as an adult that these picnic spots (Garudeswar, Zadeswar, Utkantheshwar) are part of Gujarat's tribal belt, a comparatively "backward" part of the state. Yet, the roads we travelled on even at that time were better than the state or national highways I saw in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh during field trips between 2005-2007 (recently there have been substantial improvements in these states also). Only today are these places acquiring state highways of the sort we had in the nineties. Having conducted extensive fieldwork in most major states of the country over the past 14 years, I can appreciate better the starry-eyed reaction of first-timers to Gujarat and the head-start we had.

Baroda has long prided itself for cultural diversity - regional as well as religious. In school, we were Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Muslims, Sikhs and Sindhis. I fondly recall treats on Onam, Pateti and Pongal. Today, sadly, one notes a change: in 2007, when Sanjay Dutt was convicted for terrorist interactions, my favourite seven-year old niece innocently asked "How can he be a terrorist? He's not Muslim". This is not to suggest that communal sentiments are new to Gujarat, but rather, that I did not encounter them in such a direct fashion until I was much older.

What I value most from my Gujarati upbringing (apart from the delicious food, which does NOT always have sugar!), was the sense of freedom and independence I acquired because it was such a safe environment. During my MA at the Delhi School of Economics (1995-7), I would arrive in Baroda by Rajdhani at 3am. It was quite natural for me to walk out to the autorickshaw stand and equally natural for the driver to ask me where I wanted to go once I was sitting inside and after turning on the meter. My parents would be fast asleep, and wake up only to let me in - i.e., they didn't spend their night fretting. This remains a dream in Delhi even today, even for a person with my kind of social background. The freedom to move about without fear is something we took for granted.

Beyond these anecdotes, what does the data say? The accompanying table reports the Gujarat and all-India averages of five social and economic indicators in the 1990s and 2000s. The data allow us to see Gujarat's early achievements: in the 90s, its average was better than the all-India average for each of these markers. It was among the top ten states. In the 2000s, however, it has failed to consolidate its early achievements (provision of free education, mid-day meals, child development services, diversified and high growth economy). If anything, its rank on social indicators has slipped vis-a-vis other states. Clearly, Gujarat was not built in a day - the "hard work" of building Gujarat pre-dates Modi at least by a decade.

I am not suggesting that the Congress rule for large parts of the 80s and 90s should be credited with Gujarat's early achievements. The continuity in terms of achievements is also seen with respect to negative indicators. Corruption has been with us at least since the 80s: a common joke, in the nineties, was that "CM", a commonly used acronym for "Chief Minister" actually stood for "Crore-Making" - the CM was reputedly making a crore a day! Most, if not all, property deals today I am told, require substantial "black" money. As elsewhere in the country, petty day-to-day corruption also exists -someone who had to undertake travel by train in an emergency got a ticket two hours before its departure by paying Rs. 1000 to a porter at the station.

Viewed through the lens of the BJP's public-relations machinery, Gujarat is "God's own country". Viewed with the eyes of a person from the north Indian plains, Gujarat's achievements have been commendable for a long time - much longer than Modi's rule. Viewed from the south, Gujarat looks like a relatively rich state with indifferent social indicators - much worse, for instance, than those of Tamil Nadu, let alone Kerala.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this blog are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing on the blog  do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Man-made conflict: Gir loses six lions in four months.

Friday, 4 April 2014 - 8:50am IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
Govt records show only 10 unnatural deaths were recorded in last three years
Asiatic Lions are the pride of Gujarat and the state has been trying its best to prevent their translocation to Madhya Pradesh, citing safety reasons. But, of late, the safety of lions seems to be a matter of utmost concern in this state too.
For the record, Gujarat has lost as many as six lions since the beginning of 2014. And, conservationists say this is a worrying trend because the deaths were the result of man-animal conflict even if all the six deaths were unintentional.
Incidentally, the state government, in a reply to the assembly in 2013, said 92 Asiatic lions had died, including 83 natural deaths, in the past two years (2011, 2012) in the Saurashtra region. This meant the number of unnatural deaths during those two years was nine.
In 2014, the government, replying to a question in the assembly, said the deaths were 83 for 2013 and 2012 and only one death was unnatural — after a lion fell into a well. Now, going by these reports, 2014 seems to be a deadly year for the big cats following six deaths in the first four months of the year.
Dinesh Goswami of Prakruti Nature Club said it was imperative to create awareness and sensitivity about lions. "Rajula, Liliya and Jafrabad alone are home to around 100 to 150 lions. It is obvious that they will cross the roads and railway tracks and you cannot stop them. So, the next best thing is to create awareness among people, including drivers who cross the area. We can create road signs saying, 'Lion territory, go slow' or something of that sort," he said.
Goswami stated that another reason was that as more and more lions are spotted outside the sanctuary, people come to see the animals out of curiosity. "Many of these people are outsiders who do not go to Gir but prefer coming here. Lions are animals that usually don't attack humans but if harassed turn violent leading to further man-animal conflict," he pointed out.
An official of the forest department said it was indeed a worrying trend and the department was working on medium and long-term solutions. "After three lions were killed on the track, we took up the matter with the railway department. The forest department even imparted training to 82 drivers to sensitise them about lions, why the cats need to be protected and what can the drivers do to ensure the safety of the animals if found on the tracks," he said, adding that signs would also be put up on the roads.
Goswami further stated that staff crunch in the forest department only added to the woes. "There is a shortage of staff and vehicles in the forest department. How can the officials keep track of lions while working under such constraints? It is time the forest department identifies areas that have a large lion population outside the Gir sanctuary and have a team dedicated for them. For, if such accidents continue, we will end up ruining our own record in lion conservation," he said.
Chief wildlife warden CN Pandey was not available for comment.
Jan 22, 2014: Two lionesses — one of them pregnant — were killed after being hit by a train on its way to Pipavav Port. The animals were hit while trying to cross a track between Dehra and Pasada villages in Rajula taluka of Amreli district
Feb 24, 2014: A two-and-a-half year old male lion was killed by a moving train in Amreli district. The lion was injured but died during treatment
April 1, 2014: Two cubs were run over by a truck in Hemal village of Jafrabad taluka of Amreli district
April 2: A cub drowned falling into a well in Amreli district

Zoo animals forced to lead a lonely life in JNB Park.

Sanjay Sahay, Hindustan Times  Bokaro, April 03, 2014
Several animals in the Jawaharlal Nehru Biological (JNB) Park in Bokaro city - including the tiger, hippopotamus and the African lion - are living without another mate since many a month.
This violates the Central Zoo Authority norm, according to which the animals must be kept in pairs of opposite sex.
The park has been sweating it out to keep the tigers in pairs, but the plan was hit by the death of the big cat a few years ago.
Currently, a white female tiger is housed alone in zoo for several months.
"She is in robust health and eagerly awaiting a male partner. We could discern this from her call," said a zoo worker.
The case of the hippo is similar.
The male animal was brought to the park to pair with his female counterpart.
However, the female hippo died leaving the male hippo alone.
The lioness, however, is alone in the park for other reasons.
The zoo authority has asked the park management not to keep hybrid lions.
The Asiatic lions are rare and found mostly in the Gir forest.
The zoo does not have enough funds to import the African lion from outside of the country.
"According to the zoo authority, keeping the animal single is not an ideal. The primary objective of the zoo is conservation and reproduction. Entertainment and education comes afterwards. The park management should take steps for keeping the animals in pairs," said the divisional forest officer of Bokaro Kumar Manish Arvind.
When confronted with the issue, the park officials said that search was on to find the partners for the animals.
"We have written a letter to several zoos in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, but none of them could meet our requirement. Now, we are in touch with the zoos in south India and Delhi," said a senior officer.

Understanding lions using DNA from museum specimens.

By Clint Walker
Apr 3, 2014 in Science

Genetic analysis aids in not only painting a picture of the past, but preserving the future. Recent study unveils the history of modern lions using DNA garnered from natural history museums.
For a quick review on scientific classification please see Species vs Subspecies DNA analysis helps clarify and separate the different subspecies of the lion. A study published on BMS Evolutionary Biology reveals the ancestry of Panthera leo the lone surviving lion species. "Understanding the demographic history of a population is critical to conservation and to our broader understanding of evolutionary processes" according to the journal article itself. As big cats, lions have been hunted extensively throughout written history, and even recently certain populations have declined such as the the West African Lion subspecies (Panthera leo senegalensis). DNA clarification helps to separate lions based on their genes. This helps to protect the gene pool of this magnificent mammal, allowing ecologists to better protect the specie's diversity.
Another hindrance to the study of the modern lion's family tree is the absence of a fossil record. "Estimates of demographic history are increasingly reliant on genetic data, particularly in many tropical regions where the mammalian fossil record is constrained by poor preservation of bone" (Barnett et al.) The tropical environment itself is not conducive to preservation, leaving an incomplete fossil record. Researches looked toward modern techniques to analyze mitochondrial DNA from specimens of known origin held in museums. Bone and tissue samples were taken from extinct subspecies such as the Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) and Iranian lion (P. l. persica) as well as modern African and Asiatic Lions. Revealing the maternal demographic history of Panthera leo using ancient DNA and a spatially explicit genealogical analysis takes an analytical view at the lions genealogy. While there are 8 recognized subspecies of the modern lion, genetics of each clade remains unclear. Looking at extinct subspecies such as the Barbary Lion and Iranian Lion help us to not only better understand the current lion populations, but also to better appreciate and protect specific sub-populations, allowing for educated conservation of this vulnerable species (IUCN). The study makes clear arguments for recognition of specific regional populations to be worthy of independent conservation. Dr. Barnett states in an interview with BBC: "I was most surprised by the incredibly close relationship between the extinct Barbary lion from North Africa and the extant Asian lion from India." While it is too late to save the Barbary lion, perhaps the largest of the lion subspecies, there is still time to protect the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), a lion subspecies that exists as a single isolated population within Gir Forest National Park, India. Protecting endangered subspecies like the Asiatic lion helps insure the preservation of the species as a whole, insuring the King of the Jungle can rule for generations to come.
Male Asiatic Lion in Gir National Forest
Sumeet Moghe
Male Asiatic Lion in Gir National Forest

Male African Lion
Male African Lion

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The lion and the hyena.

April 3, 2014 12:14 am
A fascinating electoral fable is taking shape in Uttar Pradesh.
Aesop’s Fables” gave us “The Fox and the Stork”, “The Lion and the Mouse”, “The Ant and the Grasshopper”, even “The Cock, the Dog and the Fox”. Now sample this: “The Lion and the Hyena”. At a rally in Bareilly, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi alleged that the Samajwadi Party was afraid of lions. The Gujarat lion was caged in Uttar Pradesh, said Modi, unlike in the Gir forest, where they roamed free. The animals under discussion had been gifted by Gujarat last year. UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav retorted that his government had also bestowed zoological tokens on Gujarat — hyenas, for instance. Except they didn’t roar about it. This electoral fable holds promise.
The lion in Gujarat has become a political animal, co-opted into a massive image makeover for the chief minister. Modi has long invited lion metaphors, holding “hunkar” rallies and cultivating the kind of mane-rippling virility associated with the big cat. Madhya Pradesh, governed by the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan, popularly considered to be Modi’s rival chief minister, had prepared a wildlife reserve to accommodate some of Gir’s lions. But Gujarat couldn’t bear to part with its pride. The hyena, in contrast, faces several public relations challenges. Folklore has cast it as cowardly scavenger, chewer of infants, apprentice to witches. Politicians wishing to identify with the hyena have their work cut out for them. But the hyena can laugh, a marked advantage over the humourless lion.
Meanwhile, the bets are on for what the moral of the fable will be. He who laughs last laughs the loudest? Pride comes before a fall? You reap what you sow? Or maybe just a simple case of all’s fair in love and war.

Complaint filed against officials who accompanied Tendulkar in Gir.

Complaint filed against officials who accompanied Tendulkar in Gir.

Elections 2014: Narendra Modi, Akhilesh Yadav get into a catfight over lions.

Elections 2014: Narendra Modi, Akhilesh Yadav get into a catfight over lions.

Truly Incredible! 10 Things You Can't Miss in India.

By SiliconIndia  |   Friday, 28 March 2014, 17:58 IST Encounter the Gujarat's African-Indian tribe: African by origin, Indian by nationality with Gujarati as their lingua franca–the Siddi tribe settles in a village called Jambur in the heart of Gujarat. Just like any other village, Jambur has red mud by lanes, houses with thatched rooftops and a few small local shops. Located approximately hundred kilometers from Junagadh, the village is surrounded by the forest of Gir, which is home to the last of the remaining Asiatic lions. 60-year-old Siddique, speaking in heavily accented Afro-English said, “We have completed 300 years in Gujarat and this is our fourth generation in Jambur,” reports the Hindu.

According to the tribals, there is a long history to their presence in India. “The Nawab of Junagadh had once visited Africa where he fell in love with an African woman. They got married and she moved to India with him. She came to India with a hundred slaves and since then we have been based in Gujarat only,” he added.

Explore Real India in Train journey: For a real feel of the pulse of India, taking a train ride is a must in India. Thundering through cities, inching past villages, snaking along coastlines and climbing mountains, the network of toy trains, luxury trains, Shatabdi speed trains and commuter trains is lovingly known as "the lifeline of a nation.” During the train journey, one gets to witness different land masses that changes with each miles and also gets to hear all kinds of discussions ranging—from politics to economy and sports, people share their opinion on about everything. Indian Railways is the largest network of transportation in the world carrying more than 20 million passengers a day along 65,000 kilometers of track.