Monday, March 30, 2015

Man detained with ‘lion nails’

RAJKOT: A man was detained by the forest officials of Gir West division of Junagadh Wildlife Circle, from Dhari bus depot, allegedly with two nails suspected to be of an Asiatic lion. The youth was identified as Kishor Dalit (22) from Rajpara village of Visavadar taluka of Junagadh district.

However, the forest department officials have ruled out poaching angle in this case.

Forest department had received information during routine monitoring exercise that someone was trying to sell nails of lion. They posed as customers and nabbed Dalit from near Dhari bus depot on Tuesday night and brought him to Visavadar forest range for questioning.

"We recovered two nails suspected to be of a lion. The nails have been sent to a forensic laboratory in Junagadh to confirm whether the nails are of lion or fakes," R N Nala, deputy conservator of forests, Gir West division told TOI.

Dalit told forest officials that he was engaged in diamond polishing work in the past and later he used to work as a daily wager.

"We are questioning him as to from where he got the nails. If it turns out to be genuine ones we will arrest him and produce him before the local court and seek remand for further interrogation," Nala added. As per the 2010 lion census, there were 411 lions in Gir forests and its surroundings covering Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Amreli district.

HC seeks report on ‘mining fires’ along Shetrunji riverbank.

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court on Friday sought details from forest officials about incidents of fire, if any, caused by the mining mafia on the banks of Shetrunji river near Gir sanctuary for mining activity. Fire creates a lot of trouble for the wildlife in the protected area which is the last abode of the Asiatic lion.

The high court has also asked the commissioner of mining and geology to report about the area with the sketch where excavation of sand in Shetrunji river has been permitted. The high court also issued notice to Amreli district collector.

The HC acted on a PIL filed by Surat-based businessman Rajkumar Sutaria. He has alleged that indiscriminate sand mining activity is taking place in the Shetrunji riverbed just outside the eco-sensitive zone of Gir National Park and Sanctuary.
The petitioner submitted that workers involved in sand mining are afraid of the wild animals coming to the river and to keep them at bay, they light fire which in turn threatens the wildlife. He cited a Supreme Court order directing the governments to restrain mining activity within 1km radius of such prohibited forest. It further directed to declare 10km radius area as eco-sensitive zone.

After citing the SC order, Sutaria has contended that despite such position the state government granted permission for mining activity in the riverbed near the sanctuary, and this should be stopped immediately.

The HC has kept further hearing on March 27.

Meanwhile, the HC has also directed the authorities of three districts to take action against those who indulge in commercial activity by opening hotels and resorts in their agricultural land around Gir sanctuary. The electricity department has initiated taking action against such property owners who illegally run hospitality units in the buffer zone.

Many such property owners have moved the HC complaining against the action taken by the authorities. Some have even claimed that they have the requisite permission to run such units. The HC has asked the government to respond to their claims by March 26.

PIL alleges illegal mining in Gir lion sanctuary in Gujarat.

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 
Last Updated at 22:57 IST
The High today issued a notice to the state government and sought details of illegal sand-mining activities in Gir lion sanctuary, the only abode for the Asiatic lions, in connection with a PIL.

A two-judge bench of the High Court, comprising justice Jayant Patel and justice G B Shah, directed the Commissioner of Mining and Geology in the state to give details about the alleged illegal sand-mining in Gir.

"Submit a report about the area with the sketch where the excavation of sand in Shetrunji river alongside the lion sanctuary in Amreli and Junagadh district is permitted," the high court order said.

The high court passed the order while hearing the PIL filed by a Surat city-based person Rajkumar Sutaria who alleged that illegal mining in the area causes life-threat to wild animals like Asiatic lions, sloth-bears, hyenas and golden jackals.

"The Chief Conservator of Forests in Junagadh district and two Deputy Conservator of Forests in Amreli shall submit the incident with details, if any, of the fire set in the eco-sensitive zone for the purpose of mining activity," said the order.

Although the Gir Asiatic lion sanctuary is protected as an eco-sensitive zone, where no construction or development activities can take place in a radius of 10 kms, mining in Shetrunji river is going on, which threatens the existence of the wildlife, alleged the petition.

"Because of development of the mining activity in the river, the people working for the said activity are afraid of the wild animal coming to the river and therefore, just to keep the wildlife away from the working area, they light fire on the river bank which not only causes harm to the wildlife but also threatens their life," it said.

The High Court has posted further hearing in this case on March 26.

Earlier, a PIL was filed on the illegal tourism-zones in the Asiatic lion sactuary of Gujarat.

Lion census in Gujarat in May.

Press Trust of India  |  Gandhinagar 
Last Updated at 22:02 IST
A of Asiatic lions will be carried out in May to find out the exact number of the big cats in Gujarat, where their population stood just over 400 five years ago, the Assembly was informed today.

As per the last census, carried out in 2010, there were 411 lions, 1,160 leopards, 293 bears and 48 Great Indian Bustards in Gujarat. Now, the state government would carry out a fresh census of lions in May, Forest and Environment Minister Mangubhai Patel told the House.

He was speaking on the allocations made in the state Budget of 2015-16 for his Department. Patel said due to the Government's continuous conservation efforts, has seen a significant increase in the population of wild animals.

For the conservation of lions, Patel said his Department has alloted Rs 11 crore, which will be spent mainly on putting fences on both sides of rail tracks passing through Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode of Asiatic lions.

Fencing will keep lions away from the railway tracks as several cases of the big cats being run over by trains had been reported in the past, the Minister said.

As per a census carried out two months back, wild ass population in Gujarat has registered a jump of 413, taking their total number to 4,451, stated Patel.

A sum of Rs 1.60 crore has been earmarked for the conservation of bears and development of corridors used by wild animals to search food and water in the forests, he said.

Similarly, Patel said Rs 1 crore has been allocated for development of habitat for Great Indian Bustards, which is considered a highly endangered species.

The bird is found in Abdasa taluka of Kutch, where there is a sanctuary for them. However, these birds usually prefer to breed in the grasslands outside the sanctuary. Thus, to develop that area as their habitat and also to make it more suitable for their breeding, the government will spend Rs 1 crore, added Patel.

Gujarat makes strong pitch in SC for its lions.

In an affidavit filed in response to a petition by Wildlife Conservation Trust (WTC), Rajkot, challenging the April 15, 2013, order of Supreme Court directing translocation of Gir lions to MP, the state government has submitted that there is no immediate ground for lion translocation as the big cat does not face any threat of extinction for the next 100 years.

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat has finally presented a strong case to protect its pride — the Asiatic lion. Instead of taking refuge in technicalities, the state government has recently presented before the apex court scientific studies and guidelines of world's top conservation body — International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — suggesting that translocation of lions from Gir in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh may not be a correct move.

In an affidavit filed in response to a petition by Wildlife Conservation Trust (WTC), Rajkot, challenging the April 15, 2013, order of Supreme Court directing translocation of Gir lions to MP, the state government has submitted that there is no immediate ground for lion translocation as the big cat does not face any threat of extinction for the next 100 years. Currently, there are 411 lions in Gir sanctuary in Gujarat as per 2010 census.

"IUCN, in its red list, has noted that current population of Asiatic lions — though vulnerable — is a large and healthy one. Population and Habitat Viability Analysis workshop organized by IUCN in India has predicted 0% chance of extinction of lions over next 100 years," the affidavit says.
In fact, the Gujarat government has insinuated that translocation may prove counter-productive for tigers in MP instead. It has quoted National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) report that emphasizes Kuno Palpur as an important corridor for tiger movement between Ranthambore and Sihor. "This corridor should be developed as a tiger habit for tiger conservation."

"Gujarat is of view that it is undesirable from a scientific, technical and legal point of view to direct the translocation of Asiatic lions to Kuno. It would be in the best interest of Asiatic lion if this subject is left to the experts in the field and to statutory authorities."

Last month, a 12-member expert panel formed for translocating lions to MP sought maiden opinion from NTCA whether lion and tiger can co-exist in Kuno Palpur or if the body would rather prefer Kuno as a sole tiger habitat.

Zoo ready to barter tiger for Asiatic lion.

Kanpur Zoo is ready to barter some of its tigers for a pair of Asiatic lions. Discussions are already underway with Rajkot, Jaipur and Bhopal zoos in this regard.

Zoo director Mukesh Kumar said, "We want to have both a pair of lion and tigers. It will be easy for us to barter tigers for lions." The zoo currently has six tigers, including a pair of white tiger.

As per Central Zoo Authority (CZA) guidelines, getting Asiatic animals is not an easy proportion. As per exchange programme, a big sized animal or an animal on verge of extinction coming under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 have to be bartered for giant animals like lions.

Currently, the zoo has three tigresses, including Trusha, its daughter Chitra and white tigress Savitri. However, Chitra is yet to attain the age of mating. Same is the case with white tiger Luv, who is merely one-and-a-half- year-old.

Hence, zoo veterinarians are chalking out a mating plan for Savitri, which arrived from Vizag Zoo on March 3. Zoo officials said that it had adjusted to the new environment.

Zoo vet RK Singh said, "We will have to mate Savitri with a yellow tiger. The idea is to introduce a new bloodline. But we do not have more space to accommodate any more tigers. Therefore, giving away a tiger or a pair of it can help us in getting some other animal may be Asiatic lion."

Among the giant animals which can be roped in via barter are Giraffe and Cheetah to name a few.

Rs 82 lakh petrol used for patrolling in Gir forest.

AHMEDABAD: The 309 bikes used for patrolling in Sasan Gir and adjoining forest areas have consumed fuel worth Rs 81.98 lakh in the last two years. This comes to be around Rs 36 per bike per day. A sum of Rs 10.83 lakh was used for repairs and maintenance of these bikes.

In the reply to a question by Mahudha MLA Natwarsinh Thakore, the state government said that from February 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014 petrol worth Rs 42.92 lakh was used by 309 bikes for patrolling and during the same period in 2014-2015 petrol worth Rs 39.06 lakh was used.

The bikes were given for effective patrolling in Gir sanctuary and areas near the sanctuary. Each staffer had been instructed to maintain a logbook and not to use the vehicle for personal use, said the government.

In the reply to another question by Thakore, the government said that 124 lions and 135 leopards had died in Gir and Dhari regions in the last two years ending January 31, 2015.

The government said that 63 lions and 69 leopards died between February 1, 2013 and January 31, 2014, while during same period in 2014-2015 the number of lion deaths was 61 and that of leopards was 66. However, the government made it clear that no animal was poached in last two years.

Power to sarpanch

The state government said the village sarpanch has been given the power to eliminate neelgai destroying the standing crops. The government has also introduced a scheme to give 50% subsidy for creating barbed wire fencing around the fields.

After white tigers, Kanpur zoo eyes pair of Asiatic lion.

KANPUR: After a pair of white tiger, Kanpur Zoo is now eying a pair of Asiatic Lions. Discussions are already underway with a few leading zoos across the country.

The zoo had procured one-and-a-half-year-old white tiger Luv from Chandigarh Zoo on February 4 this year, while white tigress Savitri arrived from Vizag Zoo on March 3. Savitri will celebrate fourth birthday on March 16.

Meanwhile, zoo authorities are in talks with their Jaipur, Rajkot and Bhopal counterparts for a pair of Asiatic lion. A pair of Asiatic lion headed to Lion Safari in Etawah was housed in the zoo for six months. However, soon after being shifted to the safari, both of them died after suffering from canine distemper disease.

The zoo authorities are trying to find a pair of Asiatic lion for the vacant enclosure ever since. Zoo director Mukesh Kumar said that efforts were underway to procure a pair of Asiatic lions and added that till the arrival of lions, their enclosure would be used to house white tigers.

On mating Luv and Savitri, he said that Luv was not yet ready due to its age. "Hence, we are yet to decide Savitri's partner. But it is still early to comment as we need more space to accommodate offsprings," he said.

Forest dept to probe harassment of lioness.

RAJKOT: The forest department has initiated an inquiry into an incident of an animal keeper of Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh freely playing and teasing lionesses in captivity.

The incident has been captured on a camera and the 1.22 minute video has gone viral on instant messaging applications like WhatsApp. Several wildlife officials as well as those working for lion conservation have also seen the video and expressed dismay at the animal keeper's behaviour.

The animal keeper, a young boy, who is yet to be identified, is seen playing with two lionesses and occasionally harassing the wild cats just for fun.

It is clearly evident in the video that the lioness is not very amused with his advances and tries to shy away from him. At one point, he is even seen slapping the lioness.

Officials, who saw the video, say that the keeper is deliberately teasing the lioness and is trying to show off by asking someone to videograph.

"Generally, animal keepers are well acquainted with the captive lions and hand-rear them. Usually, they are not afraid of lions as they rear them since their birth. But such behaviour just for fun is totally unacceptable," said a senior forest official.

Ironically, lions in captivity are being harassed in a zoo managed by forest department itself.

Sakkarbaug zoo is the only one managed by state forest department while the remaining are being managed by respective civic bodies. Sakkarbaug zoo is known for its conservation programmes. Currently, the zoo is running conservation and breeding programmes for the Asiatic lion, vultures, Indian wolf and Indian wild ass among others.

Officials said that the keeper can be booked under Wildlife Protection Act for showing cruelty to animals under the captivity.

This is not the first time that lions in captivity are being handled in such a way. Earlier, a group of visitors were also captured on camera playing with lion cubs in Rani Gala after taking them out from their enclosures.

When contacted, Sakkarbaug Zoo director S J Pandit, told TOI that they have taken an extremely serious view of the animal keeper's behaviour as seen in the video clip."The act by the person seen in the video is totally uncalled for. We are taking it very seriously and launched a probe," Pandit said.

129 Gir lions died in past two years.

AHMEDABAD: The number of lions that died in the Gir sanctuary and outside the reserved forest area has increased in the past two years. Officials, however, say that this is to be expected as the total number of lions in Gir and surrounding areas had also increased sharply in the recent past.

In the year 2012, only 45 lions had died but the very next year, this increased to 65. In 2014, the number of lion deaths was 64. The total number of lions that had died in the past two years stands at 129.

A senior official of the forest department said that the rise in deaths is directly related to the increase in population. Around 10-15% of the total number of Asiatic lions has always been recorded in Gujarat. Hence, when the total number of the big cats was around 411, around 42-45 lion deaths were recorded. Now with the increase in population, the number of deaths has predictably increased, said the official.
In 2014, lion deaths due to unnatural causes were around 15% of the total deaths in the year. The officials said that in 2014 around 10 lions had died after falling in wells or were run over by speeding trains. There are around 500 lions, including cubs, in Gir. Hence the death of 64 big cats was nearly 15% of the total, said the officials.

Experts feel that around 15 to 20% of the total population of lions dying is normal. A study, "Demographic parameters of endangered Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) in Gir Forests, India," by Kausik Banerjee and Yadvendradev V. Jhala, reveals that adult lions had died primarily due to natural causes (54.5%). Deaths caused by man were also substantial (43.2%) and were likely additive to natural causes. The study was carried out between 2000 and 2010.

Experts feel that the death of cubs below the age of three comprised a major portion of total deaths. If 100 cubs are born, only 36 survived till the age of three, said officials. In the past five years, the number of lions that had died since the 2010 census was 258 lions.

Year No of Deaths 2010 42 2011 42 2012 45 2013 65 2014 64

Gujarat shuts down 55 illegal units in Gir lion sanctuary.

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government told the Gujarat high court on Thursday that it had shut down 55 illegal establishments and directed others to comply with norms.
Placing a compliance report about illegal units which were operated around the Gir Asiatic Lions' Sanctuary, Additional Advocate General Prakash Jani told the High Court "Gujarat government has inspected 98 units operational in the two-kilometre buffer zone around the Gir Lions' Sanctuary, out of which 55 units have been shut down".
"We have directed the rest of these units, except the 55 units which have been shut down, to follow the order of the Gujarat High Court as well as the norms or else shut down these units," Jani said.

A two-judge bench of the high court comprising Justice Jayant Patel and Justice SH Vora is scheduled to hear the case on March 19.
The HC had taken up suo motu a public interest litigation (PIL) on the representation of one Anil Chudasama who had alleged that the local authorities had prevented him from carrying out farming on a plot purchased by him.
The petitioner had also alleged that some illegal units, including hotels and resorts, were operational around the two-kilometre radius buffer zone around the Gir Lions' sanctuary.
He had stated that he found out later that the plot purchased by him was originally allotted to forest dwellers for their settlement outside the Gir sanctuary but some pastoralists had sold the land and migrated back to the forest.
Chudasama had also mentioned illegal sale of land around the Gir sanctuary, which is prohibited by law. On February 10, the high court had directed the state government to take legal action against establishments being operated illegally in the two-kilometre radius buffer zone around the sanctuary.

15-year-old lioness dies at Renuka zoo.

By: Express News Service | Shimla | Published on:March 4, 2015 6:49 pm
A 15-year-old lioness, Mamta, died of uterus infection on Tuesday at Renuka zoo, leaving behind her male partner.
The wildlife officials said that Mamta was suffering from the infection for quite sometime and veterinarians attending to her had advised removal of the uterus which exhibited signs of pus accumulation. The surgery could not be carried out on the animal because of her old age and other health reasons, besides being a poor subject for anesthesia.
Renuka is nearly 40 km from Nahan, headquarter of Sirmaur district bordering Uttrakhand. It was once considered as the best breeding centre for Afro-Asiatic lions in Himachal Pradesh.
Confirming the death, Himachal’s Chief Wildlife Warden J S Walia said preliminary findings of the postmortem conducted on Mamta revealed excessive accumulation of pus in the uterus and also abdominal cavity . “Excess pus led to the failure of the immune system of the animal,” he said.
Walia said cremation of the animal was done later in the day in presence of designated committee. But before this, necessary samples were also drawn and sent to the disease Investigation Lab in Shimla for detailed analysis.
Now, with Mamta’s death, there is only one lioness left in the state’s oldest zoo, set-up in 1959 in the Renuka wildlife sanctuary in Sirmaur district. But, this lioness, say senior wildlife officials, also suffers from the inbreeding problem, which had led to wipe out the entire population of more than two dozen lions/lioness at the Zoo in mid-nineties. The other zoo at Gopalpur near Palampur (Kangra) also has only one lion .
“It’s more than a decade back, the breeding programme at the zoo was stopped because of inbreeding problem. Efforts are made to revive the programme by inducting some progenies,” said Walia.
“We have taken-up the matter with central zoo authority to provide some new animals/cubs from other zoos so that some attraction could be added to the centre, and breeding programme should be revived. The problem however remains that lions are not available in other zoos also,” said Walia.
Still, the wildlife department has got in touch with officials at ChattBir Zoo to get two cubs for Renuka zoo as authorities feel that the single male there will no survive long left alone.
Officials here informed that Gir forest national park and wildlife sanctuary is perhaps the only place for where Asiatic lions and tigers have coexisted and shown a rise in population.

Threat back to haunt Gir lions as forest department again allows safaris.

Darshan Desai  Ahmedabad, March 4, 2015 | UPDATED 11:55 IST

The state forest department had cut down lion safaris from 90 to 45 trips a day at Gir sanctuary to ensure that the habitat is not disturbed.Succumbing to pressure from the tourism department of the Gujarat government, which had spent a fortune getting superstar Amitabh Bachchan to promote tourism with his Khushboo Gujarat Ki campaign, the forest department has once again allowed lion safaris, which it had cut down to half to ensure no disturbance to the only abode of the Asiatic lion in Gir forests.
It was after a farmer blocked a lion safari route alleging that the tourist vehicles took a dirt-track through his mango orchard into the forests that the forest department had stopped issuing spot permits to lion safaris to crisscross the region.
The farmer's orchard was one entry point for the lion safari. With this being blocked, the safari traffic had to be diverted to another entry-point on the Sasan Gir-Talala road. However, it created more problems.
"The tourist traffic was getting unmanageable and so we decided to reduce the permits to half, but there is little we can do now with pressure from the highest echelons of power," a senior forest department official told MAIL TODAY on the condition of anonymity.
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Sources said the tourism wing of the Gujarat government was upset with this and put pressure on the forest department to find a way out. "We were virtually forced to start issuing safari permits to tourists but we are changing and re-aligning the routes of the vehicles passing through the jungle," the official revealed.
A wildlife activist, who did a sting operation on a tourist group on his mobile phone, said tourists don't know how to conduct themselves in a forest sanctuary. The sting operation shows a group of tourists scaring away a lion by driving down their SUV vehicle towards the carnivore who was enjoying his day's kill.
Most of such tourists stay in illegal hotels and guest houses in and around the lion sanctuary. It was after an anonymous letter to the Gujarat High Court, which it converted into a public interest litigation, the state government admitted that as many as 66 hotels and guest houses ran their business without proper clearances. Subsequently, an investigation by MAIL TODAY got the authorities into action and the sealing of these hotels is in progress.
"The situation has gone beyond control and lions are bound to stray with increasing interference into their habitat. The only solution is to re-locate some of the lions to other habitats," says A.K. Sharma, a retired forest official, who is credited for rescuing lions from poachers in the 1990s. Sharma was awarded with the Kirti Chakra for his work in Gir forests.
Nationally renowned lion expert Ravi Chellam told MAIL TODAY, "The big conservation action that has not been taken so far is to comply with the Supreme Court judgment regarding the translocation of lions to establish a second free-ranging population of lions. This is an urgent and necessary issue."

Read more at:

Renowned ornithologist K.S. Lavkumar Khachar dies at 84.

Gujarat cuts lion safaris in Gil forest by half after farmer's one-man protest.

It began with an anonymous letter to the Gujarat High Court about the mushrooming of illegal hotels and guest houses in and around the Gir lion sanctuary. 
But now, a farmer’s effort has finally bore fruit as the Gujarat government has reduced the number of safaris from 90 to 45 a day in the lion sanctuary. 
Mail Today had highlighted the proliferation of illegal hotels, farmhouses and guest houses around the sanctuary, causing disturbance at the only abode of Asiatic lions. 
The forest department has reduced the number of lion safaris in Gir sanctuary from 90 to 45 a day
The forest department has reduced the number of lion safaris in Gir sanctuary from 90 to 45 a day
The court had converted the letter into a suo motu petition, and the state government had to accept through an affidavit that 66 illegal structures were operating in Gir-Somnath, Junagadh and Amreli districts. 
The Gujarat HC then directed the state government to halt all activities there if the property owners did not submit mandatory permissions. 
It was in February that farmer Naran Solanki blocked entry to Bhambhafod forest check-post after he found that the dirt track, on which the tourism department’s lion safari vehicles plied through, was encroaching his agricultural land which actually is a mango orchard. 
Solanki says: “I own the land and often requested the authorities to remove encroachments on part of it while the remaining space was used for the lion safaris.” 
When no action took place despite his repeated requests, Solanki decided to block the lion safari route for tourists. 
This forced the tourism department to try out another entry point to the Gir forest, but this did not last long as the forest department denied spot permissions for lion safaris on that route.
Eventually, the forest department was forced to cut the number of lion safaris for tourists from 90 to 45 a day. 
“The move has also helped reduce disturbance to lions that have been straying out of the forest for some years,” a forest department official said. 
According to the official: “The tourist traffic was making things difficult at one entry point and this is why we reduced the number of permissions for lion safaris. 
"The Gujarat government may have had superstar Amitabh Bachchan with his ‘Khushboo Gujarat ki’ campaign, but this added to the number of tourists, many of whom just have no idea how to behave in a wildlife sanctuary.” 
According to the forest department, tourists coming to Sasan Gir without prior online permission are being diverted to Gir Interpretation Zone at Devaliya. 
Gir Interpretation Zone is a safari park near Sasan Gir, where a few Asiatic lions and other wild animals are kept in captivity for tourists.

Spot permissions restored for lion safaris in Gir forest.

By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Published on:March 2, 2015 9:11 pm
The Gujarat forest department has resumed to give spot permissions for lion safaris in the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (GNPWS), at Sasan Gir in Junagadh district after realigning some routes.
“We had stopped issuing spot permissions as there were some issues with alignment of safari routes. But they have been sorted out now by realigning some routes. We resumed giving spot permissions from February 27 onward,” Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (wildlife) of Sasan Gir and superintendent of NGPWS told The Indian Express on Monday.
The forest department was forced to stop issuing spot permissions for safaris as a farmer blocked way to Bhambhafod check-post, one of the two entry-points for Safari vehicles.
The farmer had blocked the way in early February saying the dirt track leading to the Bhambhafod check-post was crossing his private land. As a result, the safari traffic had to be diverted to another entry-point on Sasan Gir-Talala road.
The chief conservator of forest (wildlife) of Junagadh division had told The Indian Express that due to the blockade, safari traffic had become unmanageable and therefore they had stopped issuing spot permissions from third week of February.
This move had halved the number of daily safaris. The only way to go on a safari in GNPWS was to get a prior permission of forest department by applying online.
However, the DCF said that spot permissions had been restored. The forest department issues 45 spot permissions and equal number of online permissions daily, allowing tourists to watch Asiatic lions in their only natural home in the wild.

Forest dept halves number of Gir lion safaris.

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Published on:March 2, 2015 5:44 am
so far,” Singh said.
The CCF added that he had one more time requested Junagadh collector to find out some solution to the problem so that tourism industry at Sasan Gir is not affected adversely.
After the forest department stopped giving spot permissions, Sasan Gypsy Association threatened to go on strike.
The only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world is surviving in Gir forest and protected areas spread across Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The 2010 census had estimated population of Asiatic lions to be 411.
After the Khushboo Gujarat Ki advertisement campaign by Gujarat Tourism Department, number of tourists visiting Sasan Gir have shot up many fold. More than four lakh tourists had visited the sanctuary in year 203-14.

Artificial ponds backed by wind mills and solar pumps for lions in Gir forest.

Gujarat forest department used only half its lion funds.

 By Himanshu Kaushik, TNN | 28 Feb, 2015, 05.00PM IST

AHMEDABAD: If the figures tabled in the state assembly are to be believed, the government has spent less than 50% of the grants allocated to lion conservation in 2014-2015.

The state government allocated 43.95 crore in the financial year 2014-15 for lion conservation, but the forest department has only spent Rs 21.57 crore. The state government divulged this in reply to a question by Visavadar MLA Harshad Rabadiya. The state government said the government had released 43.95% crore till January 31, 2015 but the department utilized only Rs 21.57 crore, or 49% of the funds released.

However, the government has not revealed what was the grant was released and what it was used for. The officials said that the majority of funds were utilized for purchase of rescue equipment and for treatment of the rescued animals.

Meanwhile, to another question the government replied that 10 Asiatic lions have been transferred to zoos in various parts of the country. The government in response to Amreli MLA Paresh Dhanani said that the 10 lions were sent to zoos for the long term conservation of Asiatic lions and to educate people on the Asiatic lion. The big cats were transferred with permission from the competent authority and as part of the zoo exchange programme.

During the recent Vibrant Gujarat summit, the forest department inked an MOU to send the Asiatic lions from a zoo here to one in the Czech Republic. The Gujarat government had approved the proposal to give the lions to the Czech government. The lions to transferred will not be taken from the Gir forest but from Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh.