Thursday, May 28, 2015

As jungle sheds its leaves, lion census to start in Gir today.

Most of the trees in Kali Chhipardi area of Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary have shed their leaves. (Source: Express Photo by Javed Raja)
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River Hiran still has life while other streams have run dry.

Written by Gopal B Kateshiya | Sasan Gir | Published on:May 2, 2015 12:55 am
Gir, abandoned studies after Class XII and started working as a guide two years ago.
Nagesh Ratadiya, a safari driver, said it would be an opportunity to see parts of forests usually not accessible to the public. “I don’t know much about wildlife but I am interested in it. So, I am pretty excited about the census, hoping I will be selected for some role in it,” Ratadiya, a history graduate said.
For Shekh and Ratadiya, it will be their first-ever experience of census. But enthusiasm is not any less among those who have been part of previous exercises. “I have seen much of around 250 square kilometre tourism zone as I have been driving gypsy for the last 12 years. But I am still excited about the census as this can give me an opportunity to explore new parts of lion territory. It was a unique experience when we finally managed to track down a lioness on the sea cost of Una during 2010 census after two days of efforts. I hope I am assigned some new area this time,” said Imtyaz Bloch, a gypsy driver.
There are 75 tourist guides and 150 gypsies. Forest officers said they would take help of guides and drivers and have already initiated process to requisition 125 safari vehicles.
It’s around 5.30 pm and the sun has turned a little mild. Hearing warning calls of a spotted deer, a guide asks driver to stop the gypsy in Navi Raidi area. Soon, other vehicles also line up. Two trackers are sitting under a bush waiting for the lions to move out from the bed of a small stream. Tourists wait for almost half an hour but the jungle king refuses to show up. Finally, impatience gets to the tourists and they decide to end the safari.
“At this time of the year, trees shed their leaves and therefore visibility increases. More importantly, lions become localised due to shortage of water and this helps covering almost each and every animal during the census. The exercise will be conducted during full-moon night when lion activity remains high,” said Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) at Sasan wildlife division. The DCF is executing census drive.

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