Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Documentary reveals Gir lions co-existing with humans.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 5:30:03 PM (IST)

Kolkata, June 30 (IANS): Lions roaming among humans may be a scary thought for many, but to those who live close to the Gir National Park, it is a matter of pride, says filmmaker Praveen Singh, whose documentary "India's Wandering Lions" captures the incredible tolerance of the people to the big cats.
The one-hour film premieres on July 6 at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.
The documentary shows how an increase in the numbers of Asiatic lions have forced the cats to spill over the borders of the Gir National Park and how one of nature's most majestic predators have found a way to become an integral part of the farming community in Gujarat.
"We wanted to show how a number of lions are living outside the national park and understand and reveal how they are surviving.
"The lions seemed to be doing well and the people seemed to tolerate them. You might have one or two incidences in a year, but by and large most people see it as a matter of pride that lions are living among them," Praveen Singh told IANS.
Tracking the lions for over two-and-a-half years, the filmmaker and his team interacted with farmers, NGOs and forest guards.
"The farmers are positive about it. A lot of farmers say if the lions are there, the deer won't come to their fields, so it helps them in a certain way," he said.
Through the show, viewers will get a close look at wildlife through the deployment of special thermal, starlight, infrared and hidden cameras.
Praveen Singh said one of the major challenges during filming was following and sighting lions since they are mainly nocturnal.
Asiatic lions are endangered and over 500 are found in the Gir forests.

Gujarat floods boost MP’s lion translocation dream.

BHOPAL: Surprise flood killing eight Asiatic lions in Gujarat has rekindled hopes for Madhya Pradesh government, which has been trying since long to get a pride of big cats translocated to Kuno-palpur sanctuary in Sheopur district.

"Since a natural disaster has left eight lions dead and several missing, Gujarat cannot rule out the fear of an epidemic, which can pose a threat to the lions. We would request the Union government to shift some of them to MP at the earliest," said a senior wildlife officer wishing anonymity.

The move to relocate big cats, first mooted in 2000, has been hanging fire because Gujarat steadfastly refused to part with the majestic lions.
As chief minister, Narendra Modi refused to entertain any request from Shivraj Singh 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.

According to our Rajkot (Gujarat) bureau, eight lions have been found dead during flash flood in the last 48 hours in Bhavnagar and Amreli district.

With forest department expecting more carcasses, over 30 teams have been formed to fan out in the areas where lions were frequently seen in Bhavnagar and Amreli.

"This is something we have been trying to highlight for the last many years. We are worried about post-flood situation which may cause an epidemic," says wildlife activist Ajay Dubey. He has sent a mail to Union environment minister Prakash Javdekar to ensure compliance of Supreme Court order.

After Modi moved from Gandhi Nagar to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh's hopes of getting the magnificent species on its land had faded. Moreover, Gujarat government moved a curative petition in Supreme Court as its last legal resort to retain its Asiatic lions. Two Gujarat-based NGOs have also filed separate petitions challenging translocation of lions to Kuno, which is pending.

Blue bull carcasses found in Shetrunji dam, officials fear water contamination.

Lion carcass recovered from Ghoba village, toll climbs to 10, blue bulls toll cross 600 mark. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/amreli-flash-floods-lion-deaths-touch-double-digit-blue-bulls-cross-600-mark/99/#sthash.qDWNTEif.dpuf
By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Updated: June 30, 2015 1:05 am

The death toll of Asiatic lions in the flash flood reached double digit as yet another carcass of the endangered big cat was recovered from Ghoba village of Amreli district. In neighbouring Bhavnagar, the situation was even more worrying with the recovery of around 200 more blue bull carcasses from Shetrunji dam area, and subsequent fear of water contamination.
A day after recovering carcass of a lioness from Ghoba, forest rangers spotted the body of around seven-year-old male from the slushy bank of river Shetrunji in the same village of Savarkundla taluka in Amreli on Monday.
“There is black soil on the banks of river Shetruji, and it has turned into a bog after the flash floods. We are closing-in towards the river as water recedes and area becomes accessible. As we pushed further towards the river, the carcass of the lion was found in the mud,” Anshuman Sharma, deputy conservator of forests of Gir East division, told The Indian Express.
With this, the number of deaths of Asiatic lions in the flash flood has gone up to 10.
So far, four lion carcasses have been found downstream Shetrunji dam in Bhavnagar district, and three each in Amreli social forestry area and Gir East division, also in Amreli district.
The only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world is surviving in Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts. According to a census conducted by the forest department in May this year, there were 523 lions in these four districts. Out of them, 174 were spotted in Amreli alone.
Blue bulls, major food source for the lions, appear to be the worst affected by the flash flood of June 24, as around 200 more carcasses of Asia’s largest antelope were recovered from Bhavnagar on Monday. So far, 600 blue bulls have been killed in the heavy rain and the flash flood.
Teams of NDRF and local forest offices scanned four more islands in Shetrunji dam and found carcasses of 54 blue bulls and livestock. Around 150 carcasses of the antelopes were found downstream Shetrunji dam.
“Blue bull carcasses lying on islands in Shetruji dam have started decomposing and the NDRF teams are treating them with chemical in order to prevent dam water from being contaminated. Since the carcasses are in very bad shape and cannot be handled, we are burying them on elevated patches on the islands,” Ganga Saran Sigh, DCF of Bhavnagar said.
Singh further said that death toll of blue bulls is likely to go up as daily report from villages in downstream Talaja and Gariyadhar talukas are still awaited.
Water Supply Minister Vijay Rupani, who was supervising rescue and relief work in Amreli and Bhavnagar till Sunday, said teams are scouring 80-kilometre-long stretch of Shetrunji. “Teams are sweeping the banks of the river to find out any human body or carcasses of livestock, wild animals etc. We estimate, 4,500 livestock heads have been killed in Amreli district alone. Survey is on to asses damage to houses,” the minister said on Monday.
- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/amreli-flash-floods-lion-deaths-touch-double-digit-blue-bulls-cross-600-mark/99/#sthash.qDWNTEif.dpuf

Puggies comb flooded jungle to track lions.

Puggies comb flooded jungle to track lions
One of the animal trackers, known as 'puggies', sits with a pride of lions at Gir. (TOI photo: Bhushan Pandya) "Waters are yet to recede completely and many lions must be hungry and struggling to find their way with their 100 kg weight in such difficult terrain," says Juna.
AMRELI: Bhimji Mehta, 35, wades through a swamp in Savarkundla in Gujarat's Amreli district in search of the king of the jungle. Ravaged by last week's floods, unprecedented in 90 years, this part of Saurashtra is home to about 75 Asiatic lions — many of them dead or marooned.

Looking at tell-tale signs, visible only to him, Mehta tracks down a hungry and weak lioness that has taken shelter on high ground to escape the swirling waters of Shetrunji river. The traumatized big cat is tranquilized by foresters who are following Mehta and appears to be responding well to treatment.

A crack team of 15 expert animal trackers, locally known as puggies, has launched a massive hunt to trace beleaguered big cats struggling to survive the floods that have killed 11 of them so far. Many of them fourth generation trackers, their mission is to locate carcasses or lions in distress in the water-logged countryside. Nearly 39 lions, many of them famished for days, have been found by them in the last 48 hours since the waters abated.

In nearby Liliya, Mohammed Juna and Rahim Baloch, puggies from Sasan-Gir, are in hot pursuit of two lions. By looking at the depth and size of pug marks they tell foresters that the two lions, aged four and 10, have passed by only moments earlier. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rain aftermath: Lion death toll climbs to nine, over 500 blue bulls killed.


The death toll of endangered Asiatic lions due to flash flood in Amreli and Bhavnagar has gone up to nine as two more carcasses of the big cats were recovered on Sunday.

By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Updated: June 29, 2015 4:34 am
The death toll of endangered Asiatic lions due to flash flood in Amreli and Bhavnagar has gone up to nine as two more carcasses of the big cats were recovered on Sunday. The count of blue bull deaths has also crossed 500, as more dead animals were recovered from Shetrunji dam in Bhavnagar.
Forest rangers spotted carcass of a lion on the banks in Maidhar village, downstream Shetrunji dam in Palitana taluka of Bhavnagar district, at around noon. The Deputy conservator of forest (DCF) of Bhavnagar, Ganga Sharan Singh, said that the lion was around five-year-old and was washed away in the flood after heavy rain in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts on Wednesday.
“Our staff have located majority of lions which live in Bhavnagar. Therefore, we suspect that this lion was washed away from upstream Amreli,” said the DCF. This was fourth lion carcass to be recovered from the banks of Shetrunji in Bhavnagar in the last three days.
Carcass of another lioness was reportedly recovered from Ghoba village in Savarkundla taluka of Amreli. Ghoba village is part of Gir East division.
On the other hand, two teams of NDRF scanned nine islands in Shetrunji dam and recovered 135 carcasses of wild animals. Out of them, 130 were of blue bulls, while the rest were bovines, the Bhavnagar DCF said.
“In all, 157 carcasses of blue bulls were recovered on Sunday, taking the toll to around 400 in Bhavnagar alone. Carcasses of nine spotted deer, six wild boars and one jackal have also been recovered so far,” said Singh, adding the NDRF teams will keep on inspecting islands in the dam on Monday also.
Carcasses of as many as 112 blue bulls, seven spotted deers, seven black bucks and a jungle cats have been recovered from banks of Shetrunji in Amreli district. “But in an encouraging sign, our staff have traced location of 27 Asiatic lions in Liliya taluka and they are safe,” DCF (social forestry) of Amreli, Mangal Gujjar said.


Conceived: lion politics sequel.

Saturday , June 27 , 2015
- Cubs on way, Akhilesh hopes to answer Modi
Number's game
Lucknow, June 26: Two Asiatic lionesses at a park in Akhilesh Yadav's native Etawah are pregnant, boosting hopes the chief minister's pet project of safaris may fructify before the 2017 polls and offering him a chance to roar back at Narendra Modi's taunt that he can't "handle Gujarat lions".
"We are happy that two of the lionesses are pregnant and the news is pregnant with new possibilities," said Rupak De, the state's chief conservator of forests, unable to resist the pun as he spoke of the park with four lions at present.
The word about the likely new arrivals comes after last November's death of two of six lions gifted by Gujarat in 2013 to the heartland state - which had asked for 10 - amid teething problems in rearing the animals.

The deaths, for reasons not yet known, had struck a blow to Akhilesh's dream of starting safaris for which, wildlife officials say, at least 10 to 12 lions would be needed.
"The chief minister (Akhilesh) asked us for lions... but he cannot handle the lions of Gujarat," Modi had said during the campaign for last year's Lok Sabha polls.
Akhilesh had hit back by declaring he would "keep the Gujarati lions in Etawah and not let them out", suggesting he knew how to "tame" Modi. The BJP, though, could not be "tamed" as it rode the Modi blitz to win 71 of the state's 80 seats.
Cut to June 2015 and the chief minister, who has allocated Rs 100 crore for the project with the avowed aim of promoting tourism, may have reason to smile.
Project director K.K. Singh said the two lionesses, Girishma and Heera, were due in the third week of July. "The news has spread joy among the workers. The pregnancy happened in the course of natural cohabitation between the Asiatic lions, not through artificial insemination," Singh said.
With last year's deaths still fresh in their minds, park officials aren't taking any chances. "Doctors are monitoring their health regularly," said Singh, adding a team from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, around 200km away, had camped in Etawah to keep a watch on the lionesses' health.
If the cubs come along well, they will do more than just bolster the safari project, which was conceived by Akhilesh's father Mulayam Singh Yadav as chief minister in 1995 but remained on paper for almost two decades.
More lions at the 350-hectare park will help meet long-standing demands that Asiatic lions should be shifted outside Gir - the Gujarat pocket that has been for years the only haven for the dwindling species - to ensure the entire pride isn't wiped out in an epidemic.
India's first count of such lions in 1975 put the number at only 177. Although their population has now increased from around 400 in 2010 to over 500 at present, a lot more needs to be done to keep the lions safe, experts said. Five Asiatic lions have died in rain-triggered floods in Gujarat in the past two days, PTI reported.


40 Gir lions feared missing.

Manas Dasgupta
Gujarat forest department officials have fanned out in the flood-ravaged Amreli district in the Saurashtra region of the state for an intensive search of around 40 Asiatic Lions who were spotted in the area in the census last month but are now reported "missing." The recovery of two carcasses, a lion and a lioness, found floating in the Shetrunji river, which was still flowing above the danger mark despite a halt in rain since yesterday, has heightened the forest officers' concern about the safety of the Asiatic Lions. Around 40 lions were spotted in the region outside the Gir lion sanctuary falling in the Amreli district, which was badly ravaged in the heavy rain earlier this week with Bagasara taluka, the home of the Asiatic Lions outside the declared sanctuary being the worst-affected having received a record 600 mm rainfall in a single day on Wednesday. After the May, 2015, lion census, held every five years, the Gujarat government had declared the extended area of the Gir sanctuary as home to 523 lions, an increase by 112 from 411 recorded in 2010 census. At least 40 of these big cats were spotted around the banks of the Shetrunji river, one of the major rivers in the Saurashtra region and the main source of water supply for the Bhavnagar city. A senior state forest official, however, said the lions were unlikely to be submerged in flood waters.


Don’t worry, Gir lions will survive the Gujarat floods, say wildlife conservationists.

Saurashtra's floods have submerged hundreds of villages and parts of the Gir forest, but experts assure us that the lions will be all right.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
As hundreds of stranded villages in Gujarat’s Amreli district struggle to cope with this week’s destructive floods, wildlife enthusiasts have been worried about the fate of endangered lions in the Gir forests of the region.

For the past three days, torrential rains triggered floods across five districts in Saurashtra, submerging villages and farms and displacing thousands. On Friday, Gujarat’s health ministry reported at least 70 deaths across the state, although disaster management officials claim that the figure is exaggerated.

“So far 45 people have died in the floods, 13,000 have been evacuated and eight people are still missing in Amreli and Rajkot districts,” said Bipin Bhatt, the director of relief and rescue operations in Gujarat. “Our electricity board is working day and night to restore power to areas that are cut off, but otherwise the rains have stopped now and the flood situation is very much under control.”

Amreli, by all accounts, has been the worst affected, where 33 people have died and 600 inundated villages are now dependent on the National Disaster Relief Force and the Indian Air Force for food and other humanitarian aid. The forested areas of southern Amreli are also home to many Asiatic lions of the Gir wildlife sanctuary, and in the midst of all the chaos, forest authorities have been concerned about their safety.

Worrying signs?

On June 25, residents of Amreli’s Bavadi village discovered the body of a lioness floating in the murky flood waters of a farm. As many as 50 lions had been living near the villages around Bavadi, on the banks of the river Shetrunji that had overflowed during the heavy rains.

Forest officials have sent out teams to reach out to those villages, but have not officially attributed the lioness’s death to the floods. “We don’t know for sure how the lioness died – she could have been diseased,” said an official from the Gujarat government’s department of forests. “From our side we are trying to pump out the water from the areas where lions live. And we are trying to provide them with food by making sure that the animals they prey on – like cheetal – do not fall ill.”

Concern about the lions’ flooded habitats increased after a video of a lion walking along a national highway in Gujarat hit the news channels on June 24. The cell phone video was shot by a passing commuter and has been perceived as a sign of wildcats attempting to escape flooded forest areas.

Nothing to worry about

Some wildlife conservationists, however, believe that people are getting too carried away with their concern for the survival of Gir’s lions. The Asiatic lion is undoubtedly and endangered species – there are only 523 of them left, almost all of them in Gir – but they are very unlikely to drown in the floods.

“The Gir national park has got a lot of elevations and hills that lions retreat to when it floods, so this is not new,” said K Ramesh, a scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India. “There is also nothing new about spotting a lion along a highway, especially since their population has been increasing.”

Flooding is a risk to all animals, but wildlife is far more likely to perish in flood plains like the ones at the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary in Assam.

“In Kaziranga, many animals do die during floods, and many move to another, hillier sanctuary nearby,” said Anish Andheria, president of the non-profit Wildlife Conservation Trust. “Some amount of mortality for various reasons is natural, but lions have survived through many floods and can look after themselves.”

While the Saurashtra floods need not be a major cause of worry for India’s lions, there are some who believe the risk posed to the animals is a good reminder of the fact that the Gir forests are the only natural home for endangered lions in the country.

“The floods are a reminder that we need to translocate some lions to other sanctuaries so that they can survive outside Gir as well,” said Ravi Chellam, a senior wildlife conservationist. “Right now, we are putting all our eggs in the same basket.”
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Floods rain misery on Gujarat’s ‘pride’; 5 lions dead, 35 missing.

Sunday, 28 June 2015 | Nayan Dave | Amreli
The torrential rain that lashed Saurashtra region of Gujarat on Wednesday seems to have taken its toll on wild animals also, as five carcasses of endangered Asiatic Lions have been recovered in the last two days, while at least 35 lions are still missing in the worst-affected Amreli district.
The Gujarat Forest Department on Friday recovered three carcasses from the bank of Shetrunji River in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, while two — one each of a lion and a lioness — were found on Thursday. According to forest officials, the lions died after drowning in the stream of Shetrunji River which flows alongside the Gir wildlife sanctuary.
Search is on for remaining 35 odd lions.“Lions are good swimmers and they are unlikely to drown,” said a senior forest official, adding, “A lioness was on Thursday rescued from a temple in Ingorala village of Amreli, where she had apparently taken shelter.”  The region — close to Gir forest — has received heavy rain in the range of 16 to 27 inches in a span of just six to eight hours. Many villagers have also shifted due to constant arrival of wild animals in the area. 
“Once forest beat guards are done clearing worst-hit regions, they might be able to spot missing lions too,” the official added.Asiatic Lion is an endangered species and its only wild population in the world is surviving in Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts in the Saurashtra region. 
A census, conducted in May this year, had estimated an increase in the population of Asiatic Lions to 523 from 411 in 2010. More than 80 people and over 1,000 animals, including deer, blue bulls and foxes, have been reportedly killed in the floods. “We are burying the carcasses on priority basis to prevent spread of diseases. However, the matter of concern is that many flooding rivers and rivulets come in the proximity of Gir Forest and we can only hope that the missing lions are smartly shifted to safer places,” an official said.


Eight Lions Drown To Death As Floods Ravage The Gir Forest Region.

More than eight lions dead in Gir sanctuary in Gujarat

June 28, 2015
Recently we had reported about lions from the Gir forest dying after drowning in wells that are left uncovered all over the region. But now it seems that the royal animals are facing a bigger calamity.
At least two more lions were found dead from drowning in floods that are ravaging the banks of the Shetrunji River after heavy rains. Shetrunji flows alongside the Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat where now the total toll on lion population is expected to be around eight.
The latest two dead bodies were found in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts of Gir forest. Apart from lions, other wild animals were also found dead along the banks of the river.
According to a local resident, Mahendrasinh Kuman, seven to eight dead lions have already been found in the area. Senior forest official AC Pant said that teams have been sent out to ascertain the extent of damage.
The Asiatic lions- who differ from African lions with a characteristic skin fold on their bellies and thinner manes on the males – are endangered animals found mostly in Gir wildlife sanctuary.
(With Inputs From ANI)


Lioness Strays Into Temple, Attacks Two in Vadodara.

Published: 26th June 2015 04:10 PM
Last Updated: 26th June 2015 04:10 PM

VADODARA: An Asiatic lioness, which strayed into a Shiva temple in rain-ravaged Amreli district and attacked two women devotees, was rescued and released into the jungle after a 15-hour-long operation by forest officials.
The incident took place yesterday in Ingrola village when the local women reached the temple to offer prayers and spotted the lioness inside, M R Gurjar, Deputy Conservator of forest, Amreli division told PTI. As soon as the two women entered the temple, the lioness attacked them, leaving the duo injured following which they were admitted to a nearby hospital, the official said.
Gurjar said the lioness might have taken shelter inside the temple due to inundation and rising water levels in the Shetrunji river nearby, owing to heavy and incessant rains resulting in a flood-like situation there. Many prides of lions are usually seen lazing on the banks of the river, said Gurjar. According to him, the animal was rescued after a 15-hour-long operation by a team of forest officials in the wake of torrential rains lashing the area making it difficult to mobilise men and material for such an operation.
Roads leading to the temple were completely submerged after the district received 22 inches of rainfall, he said. However, around 1.30 AM today, forest officials overpowered the lioness and tranquilised it, ending the operation, Gurjar said.
The caged lioness was later released into the jungle. In another incident, a lioness was found dead today after it allegedly got stuck in muck at an agricultural field in Bhavadi village of Amreli. The carcass was recovered from the muddy spot and sent to a veterinary hospital at Dhari town early this morning for post-mortem, said Gurjar, adding that the animal might have been caught in flash floods which cut off this worst-hit district from rest of Gujarat for days.
Anshuman Sharma, another Deputy Conservator of Forests, said, "There are at least 50 lions who have made 25 villages on the banks of Shetrunji their permanent homes. The river was in spate since Tuesday night and has been flowing above the danger mark. It inundated all these villages yesterday. After the water recedes, the forest teams will be in a position to asses the damage in the sanctuary area of Gir forest, which is home to 511 Asiatic lions." 


Lions leave forests as floods cause chaos in India.

Lions leave forests as floods cause chaos in India

10:08, 26 June 2015 Friday
Monsoon rains have caused incessant flooding with reports of lions leaving their habitats as a result of the flooding.

World Bulletin / News Desk
Senior authorities in Gujarat India have said that this monsoon season has been worst in the past 90 years with floods affecting thousands of people.
Air force helicopters have provided food drops to those who have been stranded, and it has been reported that 70 people have been killed so far with 10,000 moving to highter ground and 1,000 airlifted to safety.
Heavy rains have triggered house collapses in the worst-affected Saurashtra region.
The coastal district of Amreli is the worst affected, where more than 600 villages have been affected.
There have been reports of lions coming out of their habitat in the Gir forest in Junagadh - the only home to Asiatic lions - which has also been hit by rains.
Meanwhile, flood warnings have been issued in Indian-administered Kashmir state where floods killed about 300 people last year.
Authorities have also halted all pilgrimages to Kedarnath and other Hindu holy sites due to heavy rains, in the northern state of Uttarakhand
India receives 80% of its annual rainfall during the monsoon season, which runs between June and September.


In the jungle, the mighty jungle.

    Praveen Singh and his team filming at Gir National Park
    The Asiatic lions
    • Akila Kannadasan
      June 25, 2015 14:44 IST

      • Special Arrangement
    The Asiatic lions
  • Special Arrangement
    Praveen Singh and his team filming at Gir National Park

Praveen Singh, the scriptwriter and director of India’s Wandering Lions, on following the big cats in a human-dominated landscape.

When the sun goes down and the dust settles after a bustling day in the forests of Gir, the Asiatic lions come out to hunt. With the lioness at the forefront, they set out in prides of five to 10. In the next few hours, the Gir National Park, the only place in the world where Asiatic lions are found, throbs with a fierce energy that very few forests can match. But what makes Gir special is that, in this landscape, humans and lions co-exist. For over two-and-a-half years, Praveen Singh and team followed the lions and lioness of Gir with their camera to tell the story of how the animals survive in a human-dominated area. The Discovery Channel airs their documentary India’s Wandering Lions on July 6.
“The people are happy that the lions are around,” says Praveen Singh, the scriptwriter and director of the show, in a telephone interview. He recalls how farmers he spoke to felt that their crops were protected from animals such as deer if lions roamed their lands. “Close to a third of the population is living in a human-dominated landscape,” he adds. This situation has resulted in “casualties on both sides,” he admits. “Lions as well as people have been injured.” There have been reports of lions mauling people and lions falling prey to wells in the area.
But, there exists a certain tolerance in Gir that ensures a harmony. With support from the Forest Department and NGOs, Praveen says that several open wells have been covered up. It is this story that his documentary tells — of the co-existence of man and one of the most magnificent predators in the world.
He faced plenty of challenges during the filming. Lions, being creatures of the night, he had to follow them around in the dark to film them. He initially planned to follow one particular animal or a pride, to tell their story. “But lions move a lot, it’s difficult to follow one pride,” he says.
“Once upon a time, the Asiatic lion roamed Central Asia and was found across Northern India, all the way up to Bihar,” observes Praveen. But hunting and cultivation of the plain savannahs, resulted in a massive depletion in their population. He says that in the 1920s, their numbers were as low as 20. But they gradually “bounced back”, as hunting was outlawed and due to conservation efforts of the forest department, he adds. At present, over 500 Asiatic Lions roam the forests of Gir and also spill outside the sanctuary into villages in the area.
In the wild, every moment is unpredictable. Praveen recalls how late one night, his team travelled deep into the forest and set up their thermal camera. But their subjects were nowhere in sight, and they decided to call it a day and packed up. Suddenly, four lions crossed the highway and strode majestically into the field nearby, right in front of their eyes. “It was a beautiful sight,” says Praveen. “But we couldn’t capture the moment.”
India’s Wandering Lions will be aired on the Discovery Channel at 9 p.m. on July 6. 


News Nation CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Asiatic lion takes a walk on Gujarat highway.

For video click below link.

News Nation Bureau
Updated On :
New Delhi :- A lion having a walk in a national park is fine but what if he is spotted strolling on a highway?
On Wednesday, such a scenario was witnessed by passerbys on a highway in the western state of Gujarat.
The Saurashtra region has been witnessing heavy rains for the past few days forcing the lion to move out of its habitat and take a walk on the road in Junagadh area.
The highway runs parallelally to the Gir sanctuary, home to the Asiatic lions. Their numbers have gone up from 411 to 523 i.e. an increase of 27% from 2010 to 2014.
According to observers, the lions have been forced out of their homes because of the incessant rains flooding their habitat areas.

As seen in the video, the lion is captured walking on the highway. He seems totally unperturbed by the car and the people inside it and walks past them across the road.


Monsoon rains drench Gujarat as sowing picks up.

As widespread and torrential rains drenched large parts of Gujarat during the last 24 hours, farmers accelerated sowing of Kharif crops, including groundnut and cotton, mainly in the Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions of the western state where monsoon is now active.
There were no reports of any major loss of life or property so far. However, traffic jams due to water logging and fallen trees were reported from many a place as rivers and rivulets swelled. In some low-lying areas, that got inundated, people were shifted to safer places, a government official said here on Wednesday.
Reports from Rajkot said the farmers had already completed sowing of groundnut, cotton and other Kharif crops in about three lakh hectares by last week. With monsoon active now, sowing is set to accelerate in the coming days.
Village Bagsara in the coastal district of Amreli received the maximum rains, 20 inches (500 mms), during the last 24 hours, ended 8 am on Wednesday. In Una, in the adjoining district of Gir-Somnath, over 325 mm of rains were recorded as the coastal Saurashtra region received heavy rains.
In Gir Forest, some Asiatic lions were reported stranded due to heavy rains that left parts of the protected forest submerged. In all, Saurashtra has already received an average of about 25% rains this season due to which several dams were now overflowing. This has also solved the region’s drinking water and irrigation problems.
Monsoon was now progressing towards the North Gujarat districts of Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha. However, the arid district of Kutch was yet to experience its first heavy rain. The South Gujarat region has so far received about 14% of the season’s rains.
(This article was published on June 24, 2015)


India's Lions May Be An Endangered Species But Why Are They Drowning To Death In Gujarat.

lion asiatic

June 24, 2015
The Asiatic Lion is one of the world's most endangered species-  you'd would expect it to be safest at Gir, a sanctuary in Gujarat.  But 2013 saw a jump in the lion deaths (rising to 65 from 45 in 2012), a rate that continued with 64 deaths in 2014.
While forest officials have attributed it to the increase in lion population, a considerable number of lions die due to man-made causes. The Gir forest, and surrounding protected areas have 7,000 uncovered wells, where it is likely that lions flock to quench their thirst. Just recently, a lion drowned in a well - a village well. On an average, 15 lions die from drowning every year, the Daily Mail reported.

There are many other causes behind unnatural lion deaths here. 

Crushed under  trains
asiatic flickr
In March 2014, four lions were crushed under a goods train in the region.
“Since their population has increased considerably, lions now step out into non-forest areas and become victims of accidents,” forest official A.K. Sharma told The Hindu last year.
Interestingly, the beast's population shrank to literally 12 lions in the 20th century, before Nawab Mahabat Khanji (of the princely state of Junagadh state), banned hunting, preserving the cat.  The State administration has, however, not taken steps to re-route the train track passing through the Gir forest."
lion asiatic
Independent media outlet Blue Moon Media had recently reported that lions are electrocuted by "electrified fencing done by the rich farmers in the region. ".
And there's the risk of infection and illegal mining
stuutje flickr
Gir has largely been unable to deal with the expanding footprint of the lion, which has increased with its population. Gir forest official Sandeep Kumar informed the BBC that living in "prides", "A male needs an area of 50 sq km and a female needs 26 sq km of space"
Interestingly, the Gujarat government, under the rule of then Chief Minister, fought arduous court battles to keep the Asiatic Lion population in Gir, despite a very real risk of keeping lion in a relatively small region – contagious infections.  The BBC reported that illegal sand and limestone mining have dried local rivers, forcing lions to move closer to the water, “as far as 300km from the forest area," Gir forest official Sandeep Kumar said.


Lions are pride of this philatelist`s collection.

Tue,23 Jun 2015
VADODARA: A philatelist from the city has taken a fascination to the king of jungle. Bhavin Marfatia (47) a stamp enthusiast has collected over 300 stamps dedicated to lions. Marfatia`s collection features stamps with lion imprints from countries like Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Liberia, Tanzania, Paraguay and Republic of Ivory Coast among others.

Lions from the Gir Sanctuary in Saurashtra also feature on the stamps that belong to India`s pre-independence era. Marfatia takes pride in a rare post card featuring a lion dating back to World War II that was issued in Germany. "I have always nurtured a fascination for stamps since childhood.

Since 2005, I developed a keen interest in collecting stamps dedicated to lions. Lions are magnificent wild animals that are reducing in number across the worlds due to hunting and other reasons," Marfatia said. "Countries in different parts of the world have dedicated stamps featuring lions to create more awareness on their protection.

" Marfatia has also carefully preserved stamps featuring lions released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). "My stamps feature the Asiatic lion and African lions. Various stamps and cancellations have been issued to create awareness on lion protection....
News Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/Lions-are-pride-of-this-philatelists-collection/articleshow/47781635.cms

Can We Stop the Sixth Mass Extinction?

Posted by Robert Coburn of National Geographic Explorers Journal on June 23, 2015

A concept painting shows what a park featuring cloned mammoths might look like. (Image by Raul Martin/National Geographic Creative)
“Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
There are many problems arrayed against us in the midst of a human-driven sixth mass extinction, and many proposed solutions. What can be done in the face of it all, and what are the most important factors for those solutions succeeding? What must change? (Read all posts in this series.)
Certainly, more sustainable farming and living practices must be established. After having completed many sustainability projects in the Oceania region, I can personally attest to the importance of sustainable economic measures. They include many things, like correct grazing patterns on pasture land, non-toxic farming methods, locally purchased goods, and pushing for more renewable energy, all of which will have an impact on the health of our ecosystems in a multitude of ways. A reduction in consumerist culture would be a boon as well, as it would reduce waste at every step in the global economy; this means consumers choosing long-term, high-quality options rather than planned-obsolescence fads and throwaways.
Beyond simply improving economic and farming practices on a continuous basis, though, there are other options for restoring the integrity of our world. One possible solution is rewilding, which essentially seeks to take sections of land and completely remake them in their ancient, pre-human image as much as possible. National parks run along these lines. The Pleistocene Park in Siberia has successfully reintroduced a handful of animal species that had completely vanished from Russia since the arrival of man, with many more slated to be introduced as well.
The Asiatic lion is an endangered species and target for rewilding in Russia’s Pleistocene Park. (Photo by Rupal Vaidya, CC-BY-2.0)
Related to rewilding is de-extinction, the process of resurrecting extinct species, but it has its opponents. De-extinction is mainly criticized as being a misnomer (“clones” will never be exact copies of a species due to damaged DNA) and a potential drain on conservation (due to taking funding away from efforts to save what we have).
For supporters of de-extinction though, unfamiliarity with an animal in everyday life is not logical grounds for keeping it extinct. Our perception of what is normal, they claim, is in a frame of reference only decades and centuries long, rather than in the huge timescale the animal occupied until extremely recently. In this sense, proponents argue, saying that a mammoth doesn’t any longer fit into Siberia’s ecosystem could be akin to saying that a broken leg shouldn’t be healed when we have the technology. The possible restorative benefits to ecosystems just might be worth it, so perhaps resurrecting certain species isn’t as excessive as it first appears.
fuertes pigeon
The famous recently extinct passenger pigeon of North America is a prime candidate for de-extinction. Passenger pigeons populations are estimated to have been in the millions, but were commercially hunted down to the last bird in the 19th and early 20th centuries. (Painting by Luis Agassi Fuertes)
It may be difficult to always understand how what we do will affect our environment, as in the many cases of invasive species transplanted across oceans to solve problems, but that then created problems instead. However, it is also true that rewilding and de-extinction are more of a restoration project than a transplant that the host environment might “reject.” Instead, it is the attempt to reconstruct the environment to its “pristine-before-humanity” state—essentially not unlike the movement to curtail global warming or to create reserves for endangered species.
Rewilding and de-extinction can only go so far, though, even if they succeed in restoring lost species to their previously held habitats. Imagine reestablishing mammoths in Siberia only to have local hunters (and medicine-market profiteers) immediately turn around and poach the new mammoths back into extinction.
This points to a fundamental truth about the sixth mass extinction as a whole: Good leadership and governance must be in place first. If an ecosystem has good human stewardship, there will be very little chance of it needing to be “rewilded” to begin with, and no restoration project can succeed without devoted leadership and oversight.
Both Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir (seen here at Glacier Point) were champions for establishing conservation areas at a time when environmentalism was a foreign concept. (Photo by Underwood and Underwood)
Ultimately, no matter the tactics, the true end solution to the destruction of species and environment is leadership. Even the vitally important “culture change” needed in various parts of the world can’t happen without leaders—leaders who live and breathe the culture they want to see implemented. Paleolithic hunters didn’t necessarily have overarching leaders to manage their land in a world sparsely populated by tribes, but we do.
So, how do we solve the problem of getting good leadership? A true question for the ages. A leader’s choices and wisdom (or lack thereof) determine the fate of their people as well as their environment.
The key is in teaching current and future leaders (and consequently their followers) that making good decisions leads to getting more of what they want, rather than being an imposition that is forced on them by an alien culture. When teaching someone to do what is best for their ecosystem, or anything for that matter, they have to be self-motivated. Once people see that there’s good reason for them to protect the environment for their own self-interest and future, suddenly they start finding ways to do it. Once this is accomplished, it becomes established culture and tradition.
“Eco guards” in Cameroon are among those actively fighting against the extinction of wild fauna. (Photo by Amcaja)
If the leaders that govern a wild space allow it to be used responsibly but safeguard it against future destructive influences, its people reap great benefits, ranging from ecotourism to a stronger domestic economy to having natural reserves to fall back on in times of distress. Instead, leadership is often so poor that resources end up being cannibalized in a desperate frenzy or sold to people who don’t care about the region’s future. This happens all over the world. The need for environmentally responsible leadership is universal.
Few are likely to think of the mammoth as a delicate flower caught in the center of a brittle web of life. However, given that the mammoths were all too easily lost, we, like our Paleolithic forebears, must learn to see animal species—as well as ourselves, in relation to them—in a different light. Humans must step forward and claim leadership over our activities and take responsibility for our impact on the environment. It certainly puts into perspective the difference that even just one of us can make. All that is needed is to stand for something and to act upon it.


Gir lions face drowning hazard due to open wells.

It's not just goods trains and speeding vehicles that claim the lives of Asiatic lions at the Gir Forest. The carnivores also meet watery grave in open wells. 
Around 7,000 uncovered wells exist in the protected forest and protected areas. The issue came into limelight yet again after a 12-year-old lion drowned in a 30-foot well in Khilavad village recently. 
According to forest officials, the paucity of funds has resulted in these wells being left uncovered. 
Officials claim that 15 lions previously fell prey to drowning every year on average, but the situation now is much better due to improved vigil.
The forest department generally receives 110 distress calls with regard to lions and 290 for leopards. While lion falls stand at seven per cent, the number with regards to leopards is over 14 per cent. 
Official sources said the forest department has requested the government to double funds - from Rs 8,000 to Rs 16,000. In 2008, over 25,000 open wells existed in and around the forest following which the government granted Rs 8,000 to farmers to cover them and build barriers around them.
Another problem plaguing the authorities is the rise in the number of lions. With the increase in numbers, their territory has spread over 20,000 square kilometres in the Saurashtra region. 
Around 6,000 wells lie in the new terrain, which serves as a habitat to 168 Asiatic lions.

Gir lions’ relocation to Madhya Pradesh faces hurdle.

Gir lions’ relocation to Madhya Pradesh faces hurdle
The environment ministry plans to file an affidavit in SC about the difficulties of relocating the animals
Mayank Aggarwal

The Asiatic lion, Panthera leo persica, evolved in Europe and is believed to have moved south over millennia, and is now found only in Gujarat. Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: Will the Asiatic lion remain restricted to Gujarat’s Gir forest? Looks like that may be the case as the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) has decided to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court about difficulties of relocating the animals from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh.
In April 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the shifting of some of Gujarat’s lions to the Kuno wildlife sanctuary in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
The apex court had directed the MoEFCC to shift them by October 2013. So far, not a single lion has been shifted.
“As per the latest lion census figures released last month, the population has reached 523 and that is a tremendous increase. Relocating them from their present habitat could be detrimental. Unlike tigers who stay alone, lions move in prides. So if you displace some of them from their present habitat, it will be detrimental to their breeding and survival,” said a senior environment ministry official who did not want to be identified.
The official was part of a recent meeting at the MoEFCC, chaired by Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar, wherein experts expressed concern over any move to relocate the lions right now.
“The population of lions has stabilized after a lot of hard work. The view that emerged from the expert meeting, which included wildlife division officials, was that the move to Madhya Pradesh could destabilize their population. Thus it has been decided to prepare a fresh affidavit explaining the same. It will soon be filed with the Supreme Court to inform and clarify on the issue,” the environment ministry official added.
Another environment ministry official said work on the affidavit has started.
The Asiatic lion, Panthera leo persica, evolved in Europe and is believed to have moved southward over millennia, and is now found only in Gujarat. It is classified as an endangered species. The African lion, on the other hand, is found in larger numbers and lives in sub-Saharan Africa.
The need for relocating the big cats from Gir was felt because environmentalists and wildlife conservations feared that an epidemic or natural calamity could wipe out the species if it is concentrated in a single forest.
Last month, the Gujarat government released the lion census figures, which put Gir’s population of the Asiatic lion at 523 in 2015, an increase of nearly 27% from 411 in 2010.
Following the 2013 Supreme Court order—after an appeal by Gujarat against the order was thrown out by the apex court—an expert group, including officials of MoEFCC, the Gujarat government, the Madhya Pradesh government and individuals such as Ravi Chellam, Y.V. Jhala and A.J.T. Johnsingh, prepared a draft action plan for shifting the lions.
But no lions were shifted.
Activists, already agitated by the non-implementation of the Supreme Court order, said they would oppose the affidavit. They point fingers at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not allowing the relocation. As Gujarat chief minister, he had dubbed the lion the pride of Gujarat and vowed to not allow its relocation.
Ajay Dubey, secretary of non-governmental organization (NGO) Prayatna, which is at the forefront of the campaign to move the lions to Madhya Pradesh, said a contempt petition in view of non-implementation of the order is already pending before the Supreme Court.
“We will fight MoEFCC tooth and nail if they file any such affidavit. We are also preparing to file additional documents in light of the new lion census figures. In the additional documents, we will highlight that forest areas in Gujarat are now saturated and that the population growth is leading to lion-human conflicts. We are also pondering over sitting on dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi,” said Dubey.
He explained that the relocation plan was scientifically devised, under which only six lions were to be brought initially to Kuno. Thus, there would be no effect on the lion population in Gujarat. “The issue now requires urgent action. But the Gujarat government has put in many impossible conditions for relocation,” he said.
Madhya Pradesh, meanwhile, has been quietly preparing the second home for Gujarat’s lions, and has informed the expert group that the prey base in Kuno has increased. The state government has already spent more than Rs.60 crore on developing the sanctuary and relocating villagers.
Lion reintroduction is a long-term programme envisaging action over 25 years in accordance with the guidelines issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The plan was to bring a few dozen lions to Kuno over a period of 15-20 years.


Lion dies after falling into an well in Gir forest Gujarat.

A 12-year-old lion accidentally fell into an open well filled with water in Khilavad village in Rajkot on Wednesday evening, reports Times On India on June 18, 2018.
Despite the rescue operation by the forest department, the lion couldn’t be rescued as it died drowning in the well that was about 30ft deep.
A forest department official said, “Preliminary probe suggests that the lion may have fallen into an open well while straying from it or chasing pray and drowned into well’s water.
“The dead body was Asiatic lion was brought to Jasadhar animal care center and the post-mortem was conducted.”
In the past few years, many Asiatic lions have died unnatural deaths in the Gir forests of Gujarat. Many Lions also die due to rail tracks and road accidents.
There are 532 lions in Gir forest of Gujarat, according to the latest population report of lions.
In 2013, the Supreme Court of India had ordered to shift some of Gujarat’s lions to the Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
But the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) filed an affidavit in the Court explaining the difficulties of shifting the lions to Madhya Pradesh.


Forest dept bans home stay near Gir sanctuary.

AHMEDABAD: As part of the new ecotourism policy to be tabled before the Gujarat high court before June 24, the forest department has decided to put a ban on commercial establishments from getting home stay approval within the periphery of the Sasan Gir sanctuary especially in the eco-sensitive zones.

The tourism department, meanwhile, has also ordered a review of permission given to farm houses and guesthouses around the Gir forest.

TOI had on Wednesday reported on how farm houses and guesthouses despite being banned by the high court had been granted approval as home stays by the department of tourism without consulting the forest department. The tourism department went into a huddle after the report was published.

When contacted, the forest department said, the state government has been asked to formulate an ecotourism policy for the Gir sanctuary and submit it to the high court by June 24, wherein the department is likely to ban home stay approval of commercial establishments.

"The department is not likely to permit home stay even if the establishments have only six rooms. The forest department was helpless as these guesthouses and farm houses had the approval of the tourism department, said an official of the forest department.

He adds, "We will be recommending that only genuine home users be able to use the home stay policy. The forest department will not permit home stay for commercial establishments within a two kilometre periphery of Gir."

When contacted, N Srivastava, the managing director of the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat said, "We have set up a third party review to probe the permissions granted to the establishments. They will work in collaboration with a specially appointed committee of the forest department to chalk out the new policy.


Gir hotels back as homestay units.

AHMEDABAD: The state tourism department has given permission to 55 farmhouses and guesthouses on the periphery of Gir sanctuary for use as home stay establishments. However, it is not clear whether permission is legal as the Gujarat high court has declared many of these farmhouses illegal because they were earlier being used as hotels.

Sources in the tourism department claimed these farmhouses don't qualify for approval under the homestay policy. According to the policy, the owner of a homestay unit has to stay on the premises but this is not the case with most of these farmhouses. Hence such permission is illegal under the policy, said sources. Of the 55 establishments given approval, 52 are in Sasan while three are in Junagadh district.

Interestingly, the forest department was not aware of homestay approval being given to establishments just outside Gir, the only abode of Asiatic Lions. Officials in Gir, too, said they had no knowledge of such permissions.

The department has given Bhagvanbhai Solanki permission to use six rooms for home stay visitors. When one calls the phone number of Solanki's farmhouse given on the tourism department's official website, the caretaker, Ramsinh Vadher, picks up the phone. "Bhagvanbhai is not there, I take care of the farmhouse which has been converted into a guesthouse. We used to function as a hotel in the past but would now open as a homestay establishment," Vadher says.

Such farmhouses were sealed by the forest department on the orders of the Gujarat HC. Their owners had then approached the high court for relief but in vain. Now they are reopening under the homestay policy though they have been given permission for this without the knowledge of the forest department. The TOI phoned several farmhouse owners — Jasubhai N Barad, Vishalbhai Bahrvav, Lakhubhai Boricha and others — who had received permission for running home stay establishments.

Jasubhai Barad's farm has a swimming pool and a playground. Vishalbhai Rudabhai Bharvad is another owner who has permission to use his farmhouse as a homestay unit. The tourism department's website has a picture of the place that shows a notice board saying, 'Vibhuvan Farm', and a banner that gives the URL of the establishment's website as http://vibhuvanresort.com/. Moreover, the pictures on the tourism department's portal given for home stay tourists are that of Vibhuvan Resort.

Bhikhabhai U Zala, another farmhouse owner, says his establishment was earlier known as 'The Brookville'. The contact details given for the homestay establishments on the tourism department's website and that of Brookville are the same.

Tourism Minister Saurabh Patel, when contacted, said he wasn't aware of such permissions being granted. "I will instruct secretary, tourism department and managing director of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited to review all the home stay permissions given in the past three months," said the minister.


Develop Keibul Lamjao park on the model of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary: BJYM.

June 16, 2015 20:15
By Shyam Waikhom
IMPHAL, June 16: The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary at Rajkot, Gujarat provides safari facilities attracting foreign tourists everyday and generating more revenue for the State.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his time as the Chief Minister of Gujarat had brought much development in the State including in the tourism sector. Gujarat which is one of the hottest and driest States in the country was turned into one of the greenest States during his time.
The wildlife sanctuary was also developed as an artificial tourist spot.
A BJYM team led by its president Oinam Malesh accompanied by media persons from the State, had toured the sanctuary during their recent visit to Gujarat.
Following the tour of the sanctuary, Malesh expressed desire for the Manipur government to develop the Keibul Lamjao National Park to attract more tourist and generate more revenue.
Malesh said the BJP wants to bring the Modi model of development to Manipur and develop tourism and other sectors in the State which have been neglected by the Congress government in the past more than 12 years.
During the tour of the sanctuary, the team witnessed that the government has also developed fruit tree groves including mangoes.
The sanctuary has also become a popular habitat for the Asiatic Lion and a safari tour in the sanctuary could cost from Rs 5000 to 7000.
A helipad has also been installed inside the sanctuary a helicopter tour of the sanctuary is also provided to the tourists.
Speaking to the team, a farmer from the nearby localities said sometimes they see big cats like the Asiatic Lions and tiger wander outside the protected area of the sanctuary, however no untoward incidents involving the wild animals have been reported so far as they are left undisturbed by the human population, he added.
Indigenous tribes have inhabited the surrounding areas of the sanctuary for a long time, and Narendra Modi`™s government had taken special care to separate the reserved area and the human settlements and at the same time provide alternative means of livelihood for them, he added.
The farmers also sometimes act as tour guides and provide house stays to the tourist which helps in generating income for the villagers, he continued.
Meanwhile, Oinam Malesh asserted that if only the Manipur government could manage the Keibul lamjao National Park in Manipur with such careful and meticulous planning as the Gujarat government is doing at the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, much tourist inflow would be witnessed.
However, unfortunately the State government has totally failed to take any special care of the park and it lies neglected for a long time.
Once the BJP comes to power in Manipur, the park will be properly looked after, he added.


Asiatic lion population rises by 27% in five years.

Asiatic lion. Photo by: Sumeet Moghe.
Asiatic lion. Photo by: Sumeet Moghe/Creative Commons 3.0.

Jeremy Hance
June 15, 2015
A new survey last month put the number of wild Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) at 523 individuals, a rise of 27% from the previous survey in 2010. Once roaming across much of Central and Western Asia, Asiatic lions today are found in only one place: Gir Forest National Park and surrounding environs in western India.

"There are 109 male lions, 201 females and 213 cubs in the Gir sanctuary and nearby forest areas of Junagadh district," said Anandiben Patel, the chief minister of the state Gujarat, where Gir Forest National Park is located.

The population has been steadily rising over the last ten years. In 2005, India counted 359 Asiatic lions. Then in 2010 the population rose to 411 lions.

Classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the Asiatic lion is threatened by poaching. But mostly the population is imperiled due to surviving in just one place; conservationists fear that a single natural disaster or disease could wipe them out. Still, plans to move a portion of the population have been held up to date by Gujarat state.

Raju lion was like his son to Suleman the Forester.

AHMEDABAD: The majestic nomadic lion, popularly known as Raju or playboys and Suleman Timan the Forester, in Gir had an amazing relationship. Raju who died recently was like Suleman's son. He used to follow Suleman since he was young.

Talk to Suleman and he has each and every minute details of Raju. "When he was a child, he had suffered injury and ever since then he became handicapped and use to limp while walking. Raju was like my son and when he was hospitalized, I use to frequently ask the doctor about his health. Being an forest employee we were not permitted to go to the hospital, but I used to get feedback regularly. Call it a mere coincidence, but I had often seen him following me wherever I went. When I was in Dedakadi he was spotted there, when I was in Kamleshwar beat, he was there and when I was back in the core area of the sanctuary, Raju was there."

"I did not like anything for couple of days when I heard Raju passed away," says Timan. Even forest officials says that it was an unbelievable relationship in-between a wild lion and a human. Raju passed away before a couple of weeks but his memories and genes will be there forever.
Even while Raju was growing up, he loved solitude and lived as a nomad even as an adult. Raju the lion who, was usually seen within the Gir sanctuary area was popularly known as a 'playboy' among forest staff.

Raju breathed his last at age 10, dying of weakness. He was suffering from paralysis and died as he wasn't able to hunt anymore. Raju was known among beat guards, jeep drivers and even the guides as a playboy. He never had his own territory nor did he have his family, but he fathered several cubs in the sanctuary.

Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests, says that between the age of three-and-a-half and four years, a cub stepping into adulthood is thrown out of the pride so he can establish his own territory. The cub then, sometimes with the help of another lion of the same age, captures a territory and establishes his pride. "Usually pairs of two adult lions form establish their own territory. Of late there have been instances where three lions have allied together to establish their own pride," he said.

Even though Raju didn't have his own territory, he was very popular among lionesses, particularly the younger ones. Raju's entire life has been documented, not only in a research paper, but also in the book The Majestic Lions of Gir, written by Sandeep Kumar.


Dyeing unit near Gir forest closed.

Gir forest, dyeing unit, dyeing unit Gir forest, GPCB, ahmedabad news, city news, local news, Gujarat news, Indian Express
Owners of Balaji Processors said after receiving the notice, they had closed their unit on March 3. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/dyeing-unit-near-gir-forest-closed/#sthash.aDFAC20V.dpuf
However, the matter came to light only on Sunday.
By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Published on:June 15, 2015 12:23 am
A dyeing and printing unit has been shut down after the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) ordered its closure following complaints from the forest department that the firm was polluting eco-sensitive zone of Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Junagadh.
Forest officials had lodged a complaint with the regional office of GPCB in Junagadh after they noticed that Balaji Processors at Dungarpur village of Junagadh taluka was releasing effluent in a nearby stream. Acting on the complaint, the pollution watchdog of the state issued a closure notice.
Owners of Balaji Processors said that after receiving the notice from the GPCB, they had closed their unit on March 3. However, the matter came to light only on Sunday.

“The unit is just 500 metres away form Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary. It was discharging industrial effluent in a nearby stream and that posed a thereat to local eco-system. Therefore, we reported this matter to our top officers, who in turn approached the GPCB,” a forest officer of Junagadh said.
GPCB confirmed it had served a closure notice to Balaji Processors. “Basically it’s a dyeing and printing unit. It has a boiler also and therefore, it can cause air and water pollution. So in accordance with laws, we issued them a closure notice,” Avinesh Sharma, regional officer of the GPCB in Junagadh, told The Indian Express.
Sharma further said that owners of the unit had claimed that the factory had been functioning even before the time its location was declared eco-sensitive zone. “However, we told them that rules were clear about the eco-sensitive zone and therefore the unit will have to be closed,” said the RO.
A resident of Waghodia road, Amit Patel, said, “If this is the condition of the city in just about an hour of rain on Saturday as well as Sunday afternoon, then we can only imagine how it would be as the season progresses. We have not seen the VMC cleaning the drains ahead of the monsoon. In fact, even when we tried calling officials to arrive here as the water was clogging the streets, they took their own time to arrive.”
Vadodara city executive engineer P M Patel and executive engineer for storm water drains Alpesh Majumdar remained unavailable for comment.
Late on Saturday night, a two-feet long crocodile was rescued from the compound of a hotel near Tarsali bypass. Animal activists have also received calls for rescuing snakes spotted in colonies since Saturday morning. On Saturday evening, eight snakes were taken away from the New VIP road area by animal activists.


HC gives state two more weeks to form new policy.

HC gives state two more weeks to form new policy

AThe state government has received an extension of two weeks to frame an eco-tourism policy for Gir region. This after Gujarat High Court refused state government's plea seeking one more month to form the policy for Gir where illegal construction is rampant. HC had taken suo moto notice of the matter after learning of the proliferation of illegal hotels, farmhouses and guest houses in and around the Gir National Park. It banned all commercial activities in and around the lion sanctuary till the state government came out with afresh policy.

Following the suo moto, the state government had to accept through an affidavit that 66 illegal structures were operating in Gir-Somnath, Junagadh and Amreli districts. In May, the government had promised the court to frame a fresh policy to grant permission to new hotels as well as hotels within two-km buffer zone surrounding the Gir forest spread across the three districts — Gir Somnath, Junagadh and Amreli.

Advocate Arvind Singh Supehia, appearing for the suo moto, said, "Claiming they did not get much time to frame the policy, the state government asked for one more month to do so. However, the HC granted only two weeks' time." More than 60 hotels and guest houses — including Taj Group's luxury resort which were found constructed in the buffer zone without adequate permissions -- were sealed by the authority last month following the court order. There are nearly 130 hotels and resorts in the area.