Friday, January 30, 2015

Three Gujarat lions to be gifted to Czech zoo.

AHMEDABAD: The pride of Gujarat will soon roar in a zoo in Czech Republic. The Gujarat Government has approved the proposal to give the lions to the Czech government. But the lions to be gifted will not be taken from the Gir forest but from Sakarbaugh Zoo in Junagadh.

Sources in the state government said that the Czech government had sought some lions from the central government for its zoo. The Centre sent the file to the Gujarat government because, under the Wildlife Protection Act, the permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden is required. Officials said the state's Chief Wildlife Warden, in consultation with the additional chief secretary, forest and environment PK Taneja and chief minister Anandiben Patel, has approved the proposal. The lions are likely to be sent after the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, probably in the first week of February, said officials.

The state government has decided to give one lion, one lioness and a cub to the Czech government from the Sakarbaugh Zoo. Officials said that according to the protocol, the lions will be sent by a special flight and then transported in a cage which will be covered from all sides with a black cloth. This will have to be done to prevent the animals from realizing that it was being moved as this can irritate the big cats.
The officials said that a special list of do's and don'ts, prepared by the forest department, mentions the age, height, weight, the food habits and even the behavior of the lions in the zoo. In many cases, since they are being transported to a foreign country, a small history of the animal — how it was caught from the wild or born in the zoo — is also given. The officer said that the caretaker of the Sakarbaugh will also accompany the lion to the Czech Republic and will stay there and feed the animal.

Open well claims lioness's life.

RAJKOT: In yet another incident of unnatural death of lions, a four-year-old lioness died after falling into an open well in Govindpar village in Amreli's Dhari taluka on Saturday morning.

The farm owner, Dulabhai Ranpariya, spotted a lioness and a wild boar floating in the 11-meter deep well. He informed the forest department that rushed a rescue team in the farm and fished out the lioness' body. The boar was alive when brought out.

Forest officials suspects that lioness might have been chasing the boar and fell into the well.
Sources said that at least 13 lions have died unnatural deaths since January 2014. The causes vary from electrocution, road accident, rail accidents and falling into open wells.

According to lion census 2010, there were 411 Asiatic lions in Gir forests and its nearby areas. However, in last five years, over 264 lions have died, many of them met with unnatural deaths.

Meet Gina, Gira and Gita - Helsinki Zoo’s new lion cubs.

News |

Helsinki’s Korkeasaari Zoo has decided on names for its new trio of lion cubs born to endangered Asiatic lions. In December zookeepers reached out to the public to find suitable names that would reflect their Indian origins and came up with Gina, Gira and Gita.

Korkeasaaren leijonanpennut saivat intialaiset nimet.
Korkeasaaren leijonanpennut saivat intialaiset nimet. Image: Korkeasaari/ Mari Lehmonen
The Asiatic lion triplets have been blissfully unaware of their status as nameless zoo residents. However when zoo officials at Korkeasaari invited the general public help find appropriate names for the cubs, they received a flood of suggestions – some 7,500.
The names that their keepers eventually selected were elegant, short and duly reminiscent of their Indian background – the first Asiatic lions were came to Helsinki in 1992 as gifts of the Indian government.
The names selected for the three mischievous kittens are Gina, a derivative of Gir, a national park in India and another home of the endangered species; Gina, which means “powerful woman”; and Gita, or “a song”.
Altogether zookeepers received 200 proposals for the name Gina, while Gira and Gita were less popular choices with scores of votes.
With or without names, the trio of pups are becoming increasingly confident exploring their surroundings – albeit under the watchful eyes of their parents. However the chilly winter weather has seen them spending a great deal of time in the warmth of their inner enclosures.
The ancestors of these sprightly pups were among nine majestic lions donated to European zoos. Currently about 100 animals live in captivity in Europe. Their numbers in the wild currently stand at about 350.

Asiatic lions' census in May.

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 14:57
Asiatic lions' census in May
Vadodara: Asiatic lion census held once every five years by the Gujarat government will be conducted at Gir sanctuary from May 2 to 5, a senior official said on Tuesday.
"The lion census is conducted every five years. The last census was conducted at Gir in 2010 when nearly 411 lions were counted. The census had covered Girnar hills, coastal areas, Bhavnagar and other parts outside the 1,412 sq km sanctuary," Deputy Conservator of Forest Sandeep Kumar told PTI over phone today.
"The census at Gir will be done from May 2 to 5 this year in a more scientific manner," he said.
In the past, the counting was based on pug marks. Now, the forest department will be using GPS system and counting will take place on the direct sighting of group of lions.
Several persons will be deployed for the exercise after providing them proper training in this regard, he said.
The land area in which the lions are found has more than doubled in the last several years, according to forest department officials.
During the 2010 census, the felines were spread over 10,000 sq km area but an analysis done a year back revealed that the big cats now have sway over 22,000 sq kms, which covers most of the districts located in Saurashtra region including Gir, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Saurashtra, Veraval and Kutch.
Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the sole home of the Asiatic lions and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia.
In wake of fear for the extinction of Asiatic lions from Gir national park, the Supreme Court had in April 2013 ruled that some lions in the Gir forest be shifted to Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

Virus that killed Etawah lions came from dogs.

Virus that killed Etawah lions came from dogs.

Deadline to shift Gir lions over long back, PCCF reminds MoEF.

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh forest department has shot yet another letter to Union ministry of environment and forest reminding it that deadline set by Supreme Court for translocation of lions from Gir in Gujarat to Kuno in Madhya Pradesh's Sheopur district, has ended long back.

The letter was sent by state's principal conservator of forest (PCCF) and chief wildlife warden Narendra Kumar to additional director general of forests (wildlife) MoEF, Vinod Ranjan on December 30.

"Nothing has happened in the last six months in this matter. We have not been allotted any funds for the translocation. Prey base density of the extension area of the Kuno has also been studied meanwhile by the scientists of the WII as decided by the expert committee and its report must have been submitted to the GoI, MOEF as directed," the letter (copy in TOI's possession) reads.

Narendra Kumar wrote, "I had submitted in the last meeting of the expert committee to fix a timeframe for implementation of the action plan otherwise it would not take off. Once again I request you to take an early action in this regard because the deadline of 6 months decided by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has passed long back."

This is reportedly the fourth reminder.

Reacting to a story published in ToI on December 5 that zoo-bred lions might roar in Kuno, Narendra Kumar said letters to Hyderabad zoo for a pair of lions was written by Van Vihar director for shifting them to zoos and not to Kuno.

"The zoo director has written to several zoos which was a routine letter but not a separate attempt by the state government to get zoo-bred lions for Kuno," Narendra Kumar wrote.

Wildlife and RTI activist Ajay Dubey who has moved a contempt petition against Gujarat government for dillydallying the shifting of tigers, told TOI that he would move an application before the court for urgent hearing on his petition.

Love for lions.

Updated: January 2, 2015 19:00 IST
Dr. Ravi Chellam. Photo: S. James
The Hindu
Dr. Ravi Chellam. Photo: S. James

Conservation biologist Dr. Ravi Chellam talks about his experiences at Gir and the proposed translocation of some lions to Kuno Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

‘Has a lion ever tried to attack you?’ questions a curious little boy. “About two dozen times,” answers Dr. Ravi Chellam, lion expert, while addressing a meeting of the Voices of the Wild (VOW). “If a lion wags its tail, it should be taken as a warning. They also give a low growl sometimes.” The world’s last population of Asiatic lions in Gir, Gujarat, are close to Ravi’s heart and his subject of study for the last 30 years. But Gir is no more their only refuge, he says, as over 100 of them have spilled over and found homes in the patches of forests surrounding the sanctuary.
Ravi is an authority on the behavioural patterns, lifestyle and habitat of the Asiatic lions. He has radio-collared, monitored and studied them in close proximity. “Lions are the only social cats. They live in small or medium prides, typically headed by a large female lion,” explains Ravi. “The males are loners or sometimes form two-member coalitions and patrol their territory regularly. Fierce fights and grave injuries are common,” he says showing photographs.
Though Gir is rich and self-sustained, Ravi suggests translocation of some lions to avoid over-concentration in a single place. Gir at present is home to 400 lions. After legal tangles spanning 20 years, the translocation project was finally cleared by the Supreme Court last August.
Ravi cautions against a possible outbreak of canine distemper and an increased probability of man-animal conflict if action is not taken soon. “The current situation at Gir is like having too many eggs in a single basket. If the basket breaks, we will lose everything,” he says. “There are roads, rail-lines and buses that pass through Gir and the lions move in and out constantly and are in contact with humans more than before.”
Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh has been identified as the most viable place for introducing lions. Though Kuno acts as the buffer zone for the Tigers of Ranthambore, Ravi believes it would hardly affect the lions. “Tigers and lions have co-existed before. Translocation is like a life-insurance we buy for the lions of Gir, so that in case of calamities we will still have a separate population of lions unaffected,” he asserts. Kuno has many features similar to Gir – like burgeoning prey population of chital, sambar and wild buffaloes, a deciduous landscape of grasslands expanding over 1,500 sq.kms and ample water resource from the Chambal river.
According to studies carried out by Ravi and other researchers, the dietary composition of the Gir lions has changed phenomenally over the years. “In the 70’s, it was found that over 75 per cent of the lions’ diet comprised livestock. Whereas, in 1993, a study revealed that wild prey formed more than 70 percent of the food the lions ate,” observes Ravi. He says removing livestock from Gir is not a good idea, as cows and buffaloes still form over 30 per cent of the lions’ diet.
“The native tribal people have always had a better understanding of wildlife than people like us,” says Ravi. “Most instances of man-animal conflict involve outsiders and not the tribals. In India, it is difficult to cut off human interaction with the wild.”
In the case of Gir, the Maldhari tribals who are primarily cattle-herders live in harmony with the lions. Their livestock is a prey base for the beast. “Moving them out will not help the lions much. Instead, unnecessary intrusion from outside should be kept under check.”