Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The urban jungle.

By: | December 14, 2014 1:27 am

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

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

Asiatic Lions in Gir Facing Threat From Poachers: Government.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marking territory.

UP lion safari waits for new additions next year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 lions overthrow 2 kings in Gir coup.

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

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

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

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

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

Is a lion on the prowl in Bengaluru?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panthera Leo Perfidy.

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

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

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

Asiatic lions in Gir facing threat from poachers: Govt.

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

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

2 Asian lion cubs born at Night Safari.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Times View

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

Asiatic lion may continue to be in endangered category.

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