Friday, July 31, 2015

Seven reasons to love lions.

Very intresting article.


Opinion: Should we be glad that Cecil the lion is dead?

Date 30.07.2015
Author Sonya Angelica Diehn

The killing of a well-known wild lion in Zimbabwe by a US dentist and amateur trophy hunter has spread rapidly on the Internet and sparked the public's ire. But can this have any lasting impact?
Cecil the lion is dead.
When I first heard the news - on Tuesday - I thought: Another rare and beautiful animal, killed for no good reason.
There was a smattering of news about it. And then, the floodgates really opened. I watched as the topic went viral: first on Twitter and Facebook, then across other media. The story was suddenly everywhere - and everyone seemed to have an opinion about it.
And I thought to myself: So now suddenly everybody cares about lions? The news that 10 lions died the week before during monsoon flooding in India's Gujarat didn't make the headlines. Since there are only around 500 Asiatic lions left in the world, that's a big hit.
But the Cecil story, of course, is much more palatable than some abstract, deadly weather pattern that may or may not have to do with climate change.
Cecil, it turns out, was something of a wildlife celebrity. He had strutted his stuff in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, showing off his pride for safari-goers and researchers, for 13 years.
Lion in Africa Perhaps people care too little about the intrinsic value of all that is wild and free
The rest of the story unfolded gradually. First, he went missing. Then, his skinned and decapitated body was recovered - just outside the national park boundaries.
But the whole world seemed to sit up and pay attention when it emerged that a dentist from Minnesota had paid $55,000 to hunt Cecil down as a trophy.
It's alleged that with the assistance of two local guides, the American lured Cecil away from the park - where it would have been illegal to kill him - to first wound the big cat with a bow and arrow, then finish him off nearly two days later with a gun.
Horrific killing, suspicious circumstances, greed and hubris - it has the makings of a riveting murder mystery. But it seems the twist that money was involved, along with an apparent power struggle between the global North and the global South, have "made the story."

Lion-killing dentist becomes online prey

Yet like all other viral news, this will gradually fade from the public eye.
Hunting and poaching, however, will not fade away. In fact, poaching on a global scale is growing, placing entire species at risk of extinction. Like some say: Extinction is forever.
But the fact is, hunting and poaching are big business. Trophy hunting is a multi-million-dollar racket, operating in the grey shadow between state-sponsored permits and illegal smuggling. And poaching, though often conceived of as a crime of the poor, is usually perpetrated by large and extremely well-armed organized crime networks.
Poaching fulfills demand for animals and animal parts, often in parts of the world very far from the last shreds of wild habitat on Earth whence the animals came.
The result of both, however, is the same: The death of innumerable wild creatures - great and small - for human entertainment or some subjectively perceived benefit.
Cecil's killing has shined a spotlight on how disgusting this can be.
But will it matter?
Environment Team Leader Sonya Angelica Diehn at DW Sonya Angelica Diehn heads DW's environment desk
Poaching continues to be driven by demand - and so, until the people who want to do things like use rhino horns to try and get an erection finally realize that's a big waste, the illegal wildlife trade will continue.
Aside from education, legislation can be an effective tool against poaching - if it is enforced. Unfortunately - as is the case so often with environmental crimes - the political will to pass and impleement laws against poaching and illegal hunting is lacking.
Cecil's death could result in a push to tighten these laws. Public awareness of the problem of poaching and illegal hunting, aside from having an educational effect, is also an important element in generating the public pressure that can stimulate political will.
So, in one sense, the fact that this happened and has gained so much attention is a good thing. In death, Cecil can continue his celebrity status as something of a trophy hunting martyr.
But if we just continue to be a bunch of hypocrites who only care about lions when some rich dentist shoots a famous one to hang on his wall, Cecil's death will have been in vain.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rasila Vadher: The woman who rescued the leopard.

Rasila Vadher: The woman who rescued the leopard
Since her enrolment in the forest department in 2008, Rasila Vadher has taken part in over 800 rescues in and around Gir.
Vadher’s skills in handling individual animals in tricky situations have helped in mitigating human-wildlife conflict in villages around Sasan Gir
Ananda Banerjee
One balmy morning in March 2013, residents of Jalandhar village in Junagadh, Gujarat, woke up to a commotion around an under-construction well. In the night, a leopard had fallen into the well.
The village we are talking about lies on the periphery of the Gir National Park, recognized as the last abode of the Asiatic Lion. People living here are used to spotting big cats in their backyards. In this case, like many others, the crowd around the well kept increasing and everyone was talking about the fate of the leopard.
The wildlife rescue team from the forest department was quick to respond, but then there was the question of who would go down the narrow shaft of the well. Rasila P. Vadher, 29, the only woman in the rescue and rehabilitation team of the forest department in Gir, volunteered.
“The leopard had fallen to a depth of about 40-50 feet. There was very little light inside and space to manoeuvre for tranquilising the animal,” says Vadher.
A parrot cage, a specially designed metal cage in the shape of a traditional bird cage used by the forest department for rescue operations, was brought in for the job. These types of cages are built to accommodate a human being and Vadher snugly fitted into it; slowly and steadily she was lowered into the dark pit. The leopard was by now in a frenzy.
When Vadher was just 10 feet away from the leopard, she fired her dart gun and tranquilised the big cat. After making sure the tranquiliser had taken effect, she got out of the metal cage and secured the animal, which was pulled out. Vadher came the same way she went in. The leopard was then taken back to the national park and released in the wild.
Since her enrolment in the forest department in 2008, Vadher has taken part in over 800 rescues in and around Gir. Rescues from wells, pits, people’s homes, farms and other places—the number includes over 400 leopards, 200 lions, crocodiles, pythons and and birds. But she particularly remembers this particular rescue mission.
Ask Vadher how it feels like to encounter a lion on foot and she calmly replies, “The lion is like a family member, it never attacks; if it doesn’t want you to come closer it will give a warning for you to go away. We understand the mood of the animal by the twitch of the ear or tail. ”
Vadher’s knowledge of different species and her skills in handling individual animals in tricky situations have helped in mitigating human-wildlife conflict in villages around Sasan Gir.
Each rescue mission is a new challenger. Whenever duty calls, Vadher also joins anti-poaching patrols nabbing poachers. She also participates in awareness programmes and nature camps to sensitise villagers living along the periphery of the Gir National Park.
Vadher’s exemplary courage and dedication has been lauded by not only the forest department and locals but also Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. Modi took the initiative to appoint women staff as Van Raksha Sahayaks (forest guards) in 2007, and praised their exemplary role in wildlife conservation.
Vadher grew up in Bhanduri village, Junagadh. After her father’s death, her mother worked as a daily labourer to make ends meet. In spite of the hardships, she saw to it that her two children went to school. Vadher went on to graduate with a first class bachelor’s degree in Hindi, from Saurashtra University. Today she is the only earning member in her family and takes care of her mother and younger brother.
In 2007, Vadher got an opportunity to join the State Reserve Police Force but decided to stick to her job as a forest guard. “Everything in the forest interests me—from the scorpion, trees and birds to the big cats.”
Apart from her duty as a rescue forester, Vadher loves sports and photography. “I love to play chess; I once played at the national level in Goa and came fourth in the competition. I look forward to our department’s annual sports day on 26 January. This year, I participated in long jump, 100-200 metre run, badminton and chess,” says Vadher.
Brij Bihari Sharma, Dev Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Rasila Vadher have been recognized through Hem Chand Mahindra Wildlife Foundation and Saevus Wildlife Warriors Awards, 2014.
This year, seven people will be felicitated with the Wildlife Warrior Awards. They are:
1. Biraj Barman, forester – Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Assam
2. Babu Rathod, forest guard – Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
3. Pan Singh Gaunia, watcher – Nandhour Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttarakhand
4. Mangal Kachhap, ranger – Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, Jharkhand
5. Kauleshar Bhagat, forest guard – Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, Jharkhand
6. Joint award to: Atulkumar Bhanusankar Dave – (range forest officer) & Isha Hasan Sumra (watchman) of Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat.
This is the second blog in a two-part series profiling two of the winners of Wildlife Warriors 2014 awards, this year’s edition of which will be presented on Monday at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai. The awards have been instituted to honour the foot soldiers of India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Akhilesh Yadav’s office watches, officials sweat as UP lion safari nurses cub, hopes.

The cub struggling for life was born to Girishma. It has been separated from its mother, and is being fed goat milk.

elephant safari in Etawah, Etawah safari, animal safari in Etawah, Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lion Safari, Cubs death, lioness Girishma, Lion Safari project, Girishma cubs death, Etawah animal safari, UP zoo authority, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, UP CM, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, UP news, India news, Indian express Mulayam’s pet project has so far lost all cubs born here.

Etawah Updated: Jul 27, 2015, 7:38
Etawah Updated: Jul 27, 2015, 7:38
The lions sleep tonight. Four days after two cubs died at the Etawah Lion Safari, taking the toll to six in nine months, it has gone into lockdown mode.
Chief Wildlife Warden Rupaq De, Director, Lion Safari, K K Singh and other senior officials have locked themselves inside, trying to figure out the problem, all entry has been banned, and among those closely watching the CCTV footage for clues is the Chief Minister’s office.
The immediate priority is a four-day-old cub that is fighting for survival.
“Nobody is to be allowed inside. Upar sey order hai,” says a forest guard at the main gate.

District Magistrate Nitin Bansal said senior forest officials are not talking to the media.
The safari is a pet project of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is a regular visitor, though the 350-hectare enclosure (with the safari area 50 hectares), located around 240 km from Lucknow, hasn’t yet been thrown open to public. He last visited on June 26. Currently abroad, Akhilesh is said to be in touch with the officials concerned.
Experts working on saving the cub include two from Gujarat — Dr R S Kadiwal and keeper Saleem. They have been brought in after all the other cubs born here so far have died.
The cub struggling for life was born to Girishma. It has been separated from its mother, and is being fed goat milk. Delighting the officials, it has opened its eyes. All depends on how the coming week goes.
Admitting that no one is being allowed in the safari right now, Principal Secretary, Forests, Sanjeev Saran said, “We have got a specialist doctor from Gujarat who is looking after the cub. We are trying hard and we are trying our best.”
Four pairs of Asiatic lions had been brought to the safari between April and September 2014. The first to die were the pair brought from Hyderabad — Lakshmi on October 30, 2014, followed by Vishnu on November 16. Then, on July 18 this year, two cubs of lioness Heer died, followed by Girishma’s two four days later.
The three lion pairs remaining — Manan and Kunwari, Heer and Gigo, Girishma and Kuber — are all from Gujarat.
With Heer and Girishma not likely to deliver any time again soon, and Kunwari reportedly hospitalised, the survival of the ailing cub is crucial for the safari. Should it recover, it can be released into the safari only two years later.
That could also hit Mulayam’s plans for a grand opening of the safari, located in his native district, before the 2017 Assembly polls.
Currently, there is a single full-time vet A K Tripathi at the safari, which also plans to host leopards, antelopes, bears etc.
A corpus of Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned, and Akhilesh himself heads one of the three committees set up for the safari’s smooth functioning. As many as 88 posts have been sanctioned, including of four senior forest officers. Search is on for an environmentalist, a biologist and a naturalist.
Sources blamed the “lax attitude” shown towards the lions at the time of delivery for the cubs dying. A safari employee said even the CCTV footage was checked only after three-four hours and no senior forest official was around when the lionesses had the cubs.
Earlier, Lakshmi’s death had been blamed on “multi-organ dysfunction followed by cardiac respiratory failure”. However, sources said both Lakshmi and Vishnu had received injuries during their transportation from Kanpur Zoo, and couldn’t recover due to the lack of a tiger specialist.
Among those who paid a visit to the ailing Lakshmi was Akhilesh. Experts from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly; Veterinary College, Mathura; Sakkarbaug Zoo, Junagadh, Gujarat; Bear Rescue Facility, Agra; and veterinarians from the Zoo Authority of Karnataka were also consulted.
Later, the state government turned to the Zoological Society of London, and Born Free Foundation of the UK. However, Lakshmi and Vishnu could not be saved, and had died within 16 days of each other.
More worryingly for Akhilesh and Mulayam, questions are being raised now over the viability of the project itself, and whether lions can survive in Etawah’s topography. Old gazetteer records show animals like neelgai, panther, fox, sambhar, bear, wolf, hyena, hare etc in Etawah but no mention of Asiatic lions.
However, wildlife experts play down these fears. “There is not much climatic difference between Gujarat and Etawah. Lions can survive in Etawah. The two adults died due to infection last year. We have conducted the postmortem of the four dead cubs and sent their viscera for examination. The report is awaited,” Dr A K Sharma, Incharge, Wildlife Conservation, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, said.
Incidentally, Narendra Modi had used the Gujarat lions sent to Etawah to target the SP during the general elections last year. “Your chief minister was asking us for lions, we gave them lions. We had hoped they may draw some strength from seeing the lions. But they could not handle the Gujarat lions. The lions had to be caged,” Modi had said, while inviting Akhilesh and Mulayam to visit “Gir forests (in Gujarat) and see how the lions roam freely” there.
That bite may have just got teeth.

Another setback for Etawah Lion Safari: Two more cubs die shortly after birth.

In a major setback to Mulayam’s dream project Lion Safari at Etawah, two of the three cubs born to lioness Girishma died within 24 hours of their birth on Wednesday. With this, four cubs have died since Sunday besides the two Asiatic lions — Vishnu and Lakshmi — that lost their lives last year, leaving the officials clueless on how to protect the felines.
On Saturday, lioness Heer had given birth to two cubs but both died in quick succession in the next two days.
Following the deaths on Wednesday, senior Forest officials, including Chief Wildlife Warden Rupaq De, rushed to the Lion Safari and based a camp there to take stock of the situation.
Principal Secretary, Forest, Sanjeev Saran confirmed that senior officials are camping at Etawah. “Doctors have been called in from Gujarat and all efforts are on to save the sole remaining cub,” he said.
Even Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is reportedly keeping a close watch, seeking regular updates from the officials camping at the Safari. These officials did not respond to several attempts made by The Indian Express to contact them, with officials having restricted the entry of media persons inside the Safari until further notice.
The Lion Safari was conceived in 2005 by then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and taken to its current shape by his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Spread over 50 acres of land with another 300 acres being kept as buffer zone, the project has been marred by the consistent deaths, raising serious questions on the infrastructure being used in maintaining the Safari.
At present, the Safari has three pairs of Asiatic lions — Heer and Gigo; Manan and Kunwari; and Girishma and Kuber — with only one surviving cub which was born on Wednesday.
- See more at:

Expanding lion kingdom, shrinking manpower.

Besides keeping tabs on lion’s movement, the beat guard is also supposed to carry out spot investigation of cattle killings by the lions. Officials said that majority of these staffers are from the social forestry division and their main job is planting saplings and saving trees.
AHMEDABAD: Lion census 2015 has pegged that the empire of the king of jungle is spread over 22,000 sq km — 2,000 sq km in Gir sanctuary and the rest outside. Out of 20,000 sq km area that is outside the sanctuary, almost 15,000 sq km is in three districts — Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir Somnath — and there are only 80-odd beat guards to take care of 170-odd lions. Effectively, this comes to one beat guard to keep tabs on lion movements in 200 sq km. This is in sharp contrast to the situation inside the sanctuary where one beat guard monitors lion movements in 700 hectares.

Besides keeping tabs on lion's movement, the beat guard is also supposed to carry out spot investigation of cattle killings by the lions. Officials said that majority of these staffers are from the social forestry division and their main job is planting saplings and saving trees.

S C Pant, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), said, "The state has formed a five-member task force to look into the conservation aspect of the lions outside the sanctuary and based on the report of the task force, the department will take suitable action. However, the first thing that we are planning is to bring the entire lion habitat area in the jurisdiction of the wildlife division from the social forestry division. This will help the department to have more focused approach for conservation of wildlife. We are going to train villagers and van mitras in the villages and even the non-government organizations on how to conserve and track lions in their villages."

H S Singh, a member of the National Board for Wildlife, says, "With the growing density of lions in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath, there is a need for more manpower. For effective conservation, the government should take support of local villagers."

Officials from the forest department said that in Amreli, Gir-Somnath and part of Bhavnagar, there are only 123 sanctioned posts of beat guards and of these 45 are vacant. Two sanctioned posts of assistant conservator of forest are also vacant. According to the officials, one beat guard covers about 26 villages in Amreli.

Experts say that the 123 posts were sanctioned soon after the poaching incident of 2007. Since then, the lion density and lion territory outside the protected forest have increased but the sanctioned post has not increased. May 2010 census revealed that 411 lions were found in an area of 10,000 sq km but according to the latest census, 523 lions were found in an area of 22,000 sq km.

RBI arm adopts two giraffes, lion and tiger at Mysuru zoo.

Mysuru zoo executive director B.P. Ravi handing over a memento to an official of BRBNMPL in front of the giraffe enclosure at the zoo.
Shankar Bennur
Mysuru zoo executive director B.P. Ravi handing over a memento to an official of BRBNMPL in front of the giraffe enclosure at the zoo.
Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Ltd. (BRBNMPL), Mysuru, has displayed its commitment towards wildlife conservation by adopting two giraffes, a lion and a tiger at the Mysuru zoo under the popular animal adoption programme.
Under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, the BRBNMPL adopted the animals for one year by paying the adoption fee of Rs 4 lakh.
The management of Mysuru zoo has thanked the BRBNMPL for its gesture.
“The interest shown by Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Ltd., Mysuru for adopting these large mammals is commendable. Their valuable contribution to this novel scheme will inspire other corporate bodies and charitable institutions for taking part in this animal adoption scheme,” said Chief Conservator of Forests and Executive Director B.P. Ravi.
Adoption certificate
H.S. Thakur Desai, General Manager, B.V. Pagar, Assistant General Manager, and H.L. Puttalinga, Assistant Manager, Welfare, visited the zoo recently and received the adoption certificate after completing the adoption formalities.
The total adoption amount received from April 1, 2015, till this date is Rs.14,21,850 for 120 animals.
The Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Ltd. has assured of renewing the adoption within the coming years.
The zoo also stated that the former cricketer Anil Kumble has renewed his adoption of a giraffe and an Asiatic Lion consecutively for the last four years and the Karnataka Silk Industrial Corporation, Mysuru (KSIC) has also renewed the adoption of a giraffe and an elephant consecutively for the last six years.
Mr. Ravi expressed his gratitude to them for their concern towards the wildlife.
The former cricketer Anil Kumble has renewed his adoption of a giraffe and an Asiatic Lion

2 cubs born in UP CM’s pet project Etawah lion safari.

Agra: After being in news for all the wrong reasons, Etawah lion safari, the UP CM's pet project, has some good news. The Asiatic lioness, Heer, gave birth to two cubs here on Saturday. The safari had witnessed a setback after the death of two lions here last year. The birth of the cubs is also a push for the dwindling number of Asiatic lions, as only 523 of them are left in the country.

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

Divisional forest officer (DFO), Chambal, and in-charge of Etawah lion safari, Anil Patel, said that the lioness delivered two cubs on Saturday noon and they came to know of the births through the CCTV camera placed inside the lion's cage.

"The cubs seem to be healthy as per the CCTV footage. It will take us a day to reveal the gender of the cubs as the lioness would not allow anyone to enter her cage presently," Patel added.

The official said that another lioness, Greeshma, who is also expecting is likely to deliver in a couple of days. After the birth of the cubs, the first phase of lion breeding centre is almost completed.

In April, a team of four doctors from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly, had con-firmed the suc-cess-ful mat-ing of li-ons. Three pairs of Asiatic lions — Manan & Kumari, Kuber & Greeshma, and Heer & Gigo — are living under strict observations of vet and wildlife experts in the Etawah lion safari ever since the mating period that was held in January.

"Kumari, Greeshma and Heer were shifted from their quarantine for five days each in January for a bonding period with their male counterparts Manan, Kuber and Gigo. Greeshma and Heer got pregnant, however, as it was her first attempt, Kumari could not conceive," Patel said.

UP CM Akhilesh Yadav's ambitious lion safari project in his home district, Etawah, suffered a setback following the death of lion Vishnu and lioness Lakshmi, last year. Both died due to cardio respiratory failure caused by multiple organ failure. The dead pair belonged to the Hyderabad zoo and were transported to Allen Forest and Zoological Park in Kanpur before being brought to the lion breeding centre in Etawah. The centre is part of the lion safari spread in about 1,000 acres in Fisher Forest on Etawah-Gwalior road in Etawah district.

4 lionesses give birth to 11 cubs in Gir National Park.

PTI, Vadodara
Updated: Jul 16, 2015 18:52 IST

Gir National Park saw four Asiatic lionesses give birth to 11 cubs, said officials on Thursday.

Deputy Conservator of Forest, Gir National Park, Sandeep Kumar said the lionesses had given birth in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Three lionesses gave birth to three cubs each while the fourth one gave birth to two, he added.
"It will take another 15 days for the cubs to open their eyes," the officer said.
"A lioness can feed only three to four cubs at a time. The fact that 4 lioness gave birth to 11 cubs illustrates that Asiatic lions are genetically strong and competent. The forest department continues to play a leading role in biodiversity conservation through dedicated management and support to nature with skill care," Kumar said.
Gir National Park is the last abode of Asiatic Lions in Asia. Ten Asiatic lions had died in recent floods. According to latest census report released in May, the number of Asiatic lions in the sanctuary and its surrounding areas had gone up to 523, an increase of 27% since 2010.

Asiatic lions missing after floods sighted in Gir forest.

PTI Jul 17, 2015, 02.40PM IST

VADODARA: Nearly 30 Asiatic lions, who were untraceable after last month's heavy rains that claimed the lives of 10 felines, have been sighted in Gir forest area of Gujarat's Amreli district, a senior forest official said.
"These lions were missing after the torrential rains on June 22 that killed at least 10 of them. They were recently sighted on the hills of Bhavadi and Hogoliya and surrounding area of Shetrunji river in Gir forest under Amreli district. Three missing lions were traced this morning," Deputy Conservator of Forest M R Gurjar told PTI on phone today.
"The teams of trackers started visiting these areas after the missing report of lions and located the big cats on hills and surrounding areas of Gir forest, the sole home of the Asiatic lions," he said.
About 40 lions were living near the banks of Shetrunji river in Liliya-Krakach area. "Since the water level in Shetrunji river near Liliya-Krakach was high on June 22, the lions might have migrated to nearby villages," Gurjar said.
Ten lions were swept away in the swelling Shetrunji river after the flood. Their carcasses were later recovered, he said.
"The staff of the state forest department, animal activists and villagers had launched a search for the missing lions and found them roaming safely in their territory, killing their preys in the surrounding areas," Gurjar said.
"The Gir National Park has lot of elevations and hills where the lions retreat when there is flood. Now we will be taking help of around 200 local people to drive away lions to hilly areas in case of warning of heavy rains, as a precautionary measure," he said.
The devastating flood had swept away a large number of domestic cattle, herbivorous wild animals like blue bulls, chittal, blackbucks and other prey base of lions.
Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani said Gir lions have a strong case to be the national animal.
"Our national emblem too contains the figures of lions, which itself makes a strong case for lion as the national animal," Nathwani said adding that would continue his drive for the the cause of Gir lions.
The MP had earlier requested the Railways to take steps for the safety of lions roaming on the 45-km rail tracks passing through the Gir forest area which is used for movement of goods trains from Palitana to Surendranagar.
At least seven cubs of lions were killed on this railway track this year.

The new pride of Gir forest.

AHMEDABAD: There are new kings in the tourism zone of the Gir Sanctuary and they have rallied up a single pride in the area. Two lions, Kabir and Abhiraj, have formed a pride of 25 — including 11 cubs born to four lionesses. The pride is set to become even bigger as two more lionesses are to give birth by the end of the month.

At present there are around 50 lions in the tourism zone. In the past, the area was ruled by a group of 32 lions but after one died, the territory was takeover by Sandipan and Mandipan and the single pride split into three groups.

According to officials, the single pride was found in Raiydi, Khutani, Paravia, Pachadi, Dudhala and Kadeli areas but after the split one group ruled by Sandipan and Mandipan was found in Karamba, the second ruled by Ram and Shyam was found in Jambuthala and the third was taken over by Kabir and Abhiraj. However, off late Kabir and Abhiraj started forging their own territory and they now have nine lionesses in their pride.

Sandeep Kumar, the deputy conservator of forests, who is chronicling this takeover says, "Ram and Shyam, the other two lions have been dethroned Kabir and Abhijraj. The group now has 14 cubs, of which 11 newborns. We are keeping a close watch on the movement of the lioness to ensure the cubs survive."

Gujarat opposes any move to shift Gir lions out of state after flood kills some.

Posted on: 05:57 PM IST Jul 14, 2015
Ahmedabad: The death of ten Asiatic lions in the recent flash floods in Gujarat has yet again sparked off a debate on whether shifting a few lions out of Gujarat is a move in the interest of the lion. Wildlife experts have been calling for shifting some lions to Madhya Pradesh, but Gujarat has strongly opposed any such move so far.
Visuals of dead bodies of the king of the jungle drowned and washed away in the recent Gujarat floods shocked many. The dead bodies of as many as ten lions have been recovered so far, although no one can so with certainty how many lions died in the flood that caused havoc in the districts of Amreli, Junagadh and Bhavnagar in Gujarat. Wildlife conservationists have been arguing for long that it is advisable to spread the Asiatic lion in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, so that an epidemic or natural calamity will not cause as much damage to them. Now voices of concern are propping up from within Gujarat as well.

Samir Shah, President of Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry said "earlier too lions have died unnatural deaths in Gujarat. They have begun to venture out of the sanctuary into villages and towns. In order to save them from dying, they should be shifted elsewhere".
Over the years, a number of lions have moved out from the Gir sanctuary limits to revenue and wasteland areas on the periphery of the sanctuary. With an abundant supply of bluebulls and deer for food, the lions have made this their permanent home. The thick bush cover also serves as an ideal habitat for the majestic lion. Locals in Dhari town of Amreli claim they see lions regularly in the riverbed and even walking on the main road at times.
Nooruddin Chavda, a resident of Dhari said "there are two groups of lions that stay here.. where we are standing. These include lions, lionesses and cubs."
Another resident Niket Sanghani also joins him. He said "all of us have seen lions here… Especially in the evenings, they even roam on the roads."
Its these lions who got washed away in the flash floods recently. But ask the locals whether the lions should be shifted and their answer is an emphatic "No".
Defending their opposition to any attempt to shift lions, Nooruddin Chavda said "No this is wrong. Nature can cause havoc anywhere.. Shifting is not an option."
Niket Sanghani also feels the same. He said "Flood can come anywhere.. That is not a premise for shifting lions from here."
The Gujarat forest department, and for that matter, the state government, says that a healthy rise in lion population is evidence enough that there is absolutely no need to shifting any lions to the Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
Anshuman Sharma, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Gir East Range said "Just because 10 lions have died, it is wrong to make a demand for relocation. This was a calamity that can happen anywhere.. Even in places that they want to shift the lions. We are taking good care of the lions. The lion to cub ratio also shows that they are in a good place."

Centre refuses to give money for conservation of lions.

An Asiatic lion rests at the Kamala Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad. Officials say the rains killed at least 10 of the country's 523 lions. Ap

NEW DELHI: July 13, 2015, dhns:
The last month's flood in Gujarat killed 10 Asiatic lions in two districts at a time when the central government refused to release more money for conserving these animals.

The deaths occurred in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, where carcasses of ten lions were recovered till July 2, says a report by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Gujarat, who submitted it to the Union Environment Ministry last week.

Besides, carcasses of 1,670 blue bulls, 87 spotted deer, nine black bucks and six wild boars were also found. Four lions died in Amreli district and the other six in Bhavnagar district.

As per the 2010 lion census, the total number of these big cats stood at 411 in Gujarat. Two months ago, another round of the five-yearly lion census  began. The 2005 count was 359 lions.

The ongoing census will cover Amreli, Porbandar, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Gir-Somnath and Botad districts. Apart from the 1,800 sq km sanctuary area, which includes Gir Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Paniya, Mityalaya and Girnar sanctuaries, another 23,200 sq km area outside the sanctuary will also be covered in the counting.

The loss of lions comes less than three months after the Union Environment Ministry refused to sanction Rs 135 crore to Gujarat for conserving these animals in their only home in India.
The state had submitted a Rs 150 crore plan for consolidating long term conservation of Asiatic lions and sought 90 per cent funding from theCentre. The ministry rejected the proposal on the ground that funds are not available. Two years ago, Gujarat had submitted a Rs 262 crore proposal that also received approval from the Planning Commission. But the central support was nominal.

After the flood, when forest officials visited the affected areas, lions were seen moving and fresh kills of blue bulls were also observed.

“As many as 17 lions were seen in Savarkundala area while 27 lions in Amreli district and 40 in Bhavnagar district were spotted during search and rescue operations after the flood,” said S C Pant, principal chief conservator of forest in Gujarat.

India officials say recent floods killed 10 endangered lions.

An Asiatic lion rests in Gir forest, about 355 km from the western Indian city of Ahmedabad December 23, 2006. Photo: Reuters

2:33 PM, July 12, 2015
NEW DELHI (AP) — Officials say monsoon flooding that killed dozens of people in western India last month also hurt the world’s last population of wild Asiatic lions.
The floods killed at least 81 people with mudslides, collapsed homes or high waters in Gujarat state, while thousands were forced to evacuate their homes.
Gujarat forest officials say in a report that the rains also killed at least 10 of the country’s 523 lions — the last members of the subspecies left anywhere in the wild.
The report, submitted this weekend to the state’s environment ministry, says other lions were found in “weak health and shocked condition” and were given treatment and food supplements.
The deaths underline conservationists’ concerns about keeping all of the lions in Gir National Forest in southern Gujarat. AP

Gujarat floods take huge toll on lion prey, 1670 nilgai and 80 deers dead.

Saturday, 11 July 2015 - 7:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna | From the print edition

"The areas around the Shetrunji were the worst affected as the rainfall intensity was heavy in a short period of time. Following continuous rain, the river crossed its danger mark. As a result, the lions and other animals could not make it to safe ground in time and drowned with the force of water," said SC Pant, principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden, Gujarat.
More than a fortnight after heavy rains and the ensuing flash floods battered Saurashtra and Amreli district in Gujarat, killing more than 70 people, the flood's actual toll on wildlife too has come to the fore. According to the details submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change by Gujarat forest department, the floods claimed lives a whopping 1,670 blue bulls (nilgai), 80 spotted deers, around 10 black bucks and even wild boars that all form the prey base of Asiatic lions. The Gujarat forest department had already recorded the deaths of 10 Asiatic lions, exclusively found in Gir forests. The lions had all drowned in the floods, largely around the banks of Shetrunji river, around 40 kms away from the protected area. Even now, the forest department is regularly scanning

At the beginning of July the casualties of blue bulls, the largest Asian antelope, were pegged between 600 and 650. But, the death toll has risen steadily as carcasses of several blue bulls and other mammals were found in a bloated and decomposed state downstream of Shetrunji river and dam. According to wildlife officers of Gujarat forest department, the maximum toll has been recorded outside the Gir forests in those villages that lions use as their corridors.
"The areas around the Shetrunji were the worst affected as the rainfall intensity was heavy in a short period of time. Following continuous rain, the river crossed its danger mark. As a result, the lions and other animals could not make it to safe ground in time and drowned with the force of water," said SC Pant, principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden, Gujarat.
The mammals, Pant said, faced a similar problem and were swept away in the flash flood. "Ungulates such as blue bulls and spotted deers are usually prone to suffering shocks during natural calamities that may lead to a cardiac arrest. To add to the misery, the floods wreaked havoc and must have swept them away," Pant added.
The confirmed loss of ten lions is unexpected blow to the famed Gir forests that had in fact recorded a growth in lion population following the latest census carried out this year. From 411 in 2010, the lion population has risen to 523 as per this year's census. The loss of lions due to the floods have also, once again, brought in the limelight the translocation of lions to Madhya Pradesh, an issue that is still pending in Supreme Court. Environmentalists feel that since the Asiatic lion is exclusively found in Gir, its population should be distributed as a safety net against incidents of such natural calamities.
"Even as of today, our staff is tracking all forest trails to see if the lions are safe. The loss of mammals in large numbers won't have any adverse impact as such," Pant added.

Home stay policy at Gir to be reviewed.

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat tourism department, following the notification of July 1 that has brought tourism department's home stay policy around Gir Sanctuary and other protected lion sanctuaries under its ambit, has decided to review all the permissions granted even before the notification was issued.

The forest department in the notification tabled in the Gujarat high court (HC) on Thursday stated that tourism department would have to seek approval of the forest department before giving the final approval.

This effectively means that henceforth, the tourism department before giving any permission for home stay in the periphery of Gir forest including Gir, Girnar, Mitiyala and Paniya Sanctuaries will have to seek the approval of the chief wildlife warden (CWW).

TOI in the article "Gir hotels back as home stay units" dated June 17 had exposed how farm houses and guest houses which were banned by the HC for functioning illegally had been granted approval for home stay by the tourism department without even consulting the forest department.

The HC was hearing a suo motu PIL on an anonymous complaint alleging mismanagement of eco-tourism in and around Gir wherein 128 establishments were found operating illegally.

According to the new notification of July 1 submitted before the HC, any permission for home stays by tourism department will need an approval of CWW. Also, a copy of the permission will be required to be submitted to deputy conservator of forest. Forest officials are also empowered by the new policy to carry out inspections.

"Under this notification, if a person was given permission for maximum six rooms, he wouldn't be allowed to have 20 rooms. Constructing more rooms beyond the permissible limit will face demolition," said a forest department official.

The official added that the department would ensure that no resort or hotel was permitted for home stay as it was done in the past.

"Earlier, when the forest department had no role to play under the home stay policy, we didn't have any powers to inspect such establishments," said CWW, Gujarat, S C Pant.

Gujarat Tourism managing director N Srivastava said, "We are taking no chances and we've asked the third party to review all the permissions and this time, they have to contact the forest department. We will definitely review these permissions afresh."

Srivastava said that the forest department was of the opinion that this time the review would be perfect. He also promised action against those guest houses and farm houses which were operating despite being closed by the HC.

Praveen Singh captures man-animal bonding in India's Wandering Lions.

Film-maker Praveen Singh of Discovery Channel took three years to capture on his camera, and on his notepad, this unique bond between humans and beasts.

Mail Today Bureau  New Delhi, July 6, 2015 | UPDATED 10:02 IST

Film-maker Praveen Singh of Discovery Channel has captured the incredible tolerance of the people to the big cats in a documentary India's Wandering Lions. The filmmaker took three years to capture on his camera, and on his notepad, this unique bond between humans and beasts. The programme will be aired on July 6 at 9 pm. When asked as to why he chose to document the Gir lion sanctuary, he told Mail Today: "We wanted to bring to audiences this incredible story of lions and people living together and incredibly, the lions seem to be thriving in this landscape - a mix of forest, scrub patches, fields and farms." He added, "The central theme of the programme shows how people and lions are living in close proximity with each other. For locals, lions are part of their lives and they are happy to have them around." Praveen's engagement with the lions and the people who co-exist with them gives a different spinoff than what many environmentalists argue. He said, "To most people if they see a wild animal living amongst people, they view it as conflict.
However, the lions seem to be doing fine and the people also accept the animals in their midst. The people are proud to have lions in their state and most know that the big cats are not going to attack unless provoked. Many farmers we spoke to said they don't mind the lions in their fields or mango orchards as that ensures deer and other herbivores cannot damage the crops." As regards conservation efforts, he said, "As per the latest census, there are 500 Asiatic lions in Gujarat, with quite a large number far from the Gir forests. The Asiatic lion population has shown a consistent increase over many years and the credit for this must go to the forest department, conservationists, biologists and locals who are tolerant to the presence of lions." He is not the only one. There are thousands who swear by the lion in the Saurashtra region, where the king has by now acquired a territory of 20,000 mind-boggling square km.
This reporter learnt it while riding pillion on a motorcycle driven by a sturdy forest guard trundling through the dusty Gir forests. It could be a bonebreaking ride for many but a daily grind for Ghulam Mehmood. On the return journey with the only light beaming from his twowheeler, Ghulam suddenly stood up on his mobike foot rest that disbalanced the vehicle to scream, "Dekho sir, sher, dekhiye dekhiye." A pride of lions with seven members was crossing the road. For someone who hasn't seen the lion beyond the confines of a zoo, it was the experience of a lifetime. But what caught one's eyes was Ghulam's excitement on seeing something he sees almost every day. There was a sudden swagger in his body that shook the bike and would have thrown his pillion rider to the ground had he not held on strongly. Ghulam's passion is not as much for his daily job that gives him a few hundred rupees but his unflinching love for the wild cat. But he dislikes the wild cat expression. For him, it is sher, the king of his region and his life.

Living with the King!

Abhiraj Ganguli
| 05 July, 2015

It’s a misty morning in Junagadh district of southern Gujarat. The village dogs have been barking uninterruptedly since the wee hours. As a haze envelops the village, people waking up are confronted by a curious sight — on one of the roads, the blood-spattered, disembowelled carcass of a cow lies tended by an army of flies. The onlookers, including a bunch of children, display a sense of awed interest without feeling the least bit scared. Of course, they know it was killed by no mere jackal or hyena but rather an alpha predator — the Asiatic lion.
But how can a thickly inhabited village become a hunting ground for lions? And why hadn’t mass panic gripped the place by now? These are questions Discovery Channel’s latest special wildlife feature, India’s Wandering Lions, seeks to answer.
The Gir Forest National Park is the last surviving home of the Asiatic lion, which once roamed in their multitudes throughout Central Asia. However, unchecked hunting for sport in the 18th and 19th centuries brought their numbers down to a handful.   That’s when the Nawab of Junagadh, Muhammad Rasul Khanji Babi, declared the area a “protected” zone at the beginning of the 20th century. So much for history, but what has brought the park into sharp focus is the rapid increase in the numbers of the rare species, from 411 in 2010 to 523 this year. And not only should the forest department, NGOs and conservationists be credited, the local population deserves special mention because they have warmed to the task of having lions in their midst. The spillover effect outside the confines of the sanctuary has meant that the animals often go from one forest patch to another through agricultural fields, village grasslands and human habitations.
How have people reacted to this change? Director and scriptwriter of the programme, Praveen Singh, says, “People are proud to have lions in their state and most know that they are not going to injure or attack humans unless provoked. Many farmers said that they didn’t mind the lions in their fields or mango orchards as they kept deer and other wild herbivores away from their crops.” It is an incredible story of coexistence, perhaps without parallel in the world.
However, going into the land of lions and filming them as they go about their lives is no mean feat. And the results are astonishing and throw light on a hitherto unknown facet of the animal’s existence. Startling, to say the least, are the innumerable sequences captured through special thermal and starlight cameras during nights bathed in resplendent moonlight. But only Singh can talk about the toil behind the breathtaking visuals. “It’s a very different world at night. Just the fact that we were working with no lights at all made navigation difficult, but over and above that was using completely new technology. The thermal camera required constant resetting of exposures as one travelled. It meant using a mouse with a track pad and adjusting a slider scale while the vehicle was moving. Believe me, that’s tough,” he says. And one is definitely inclined to believe him!
Those special cameras were sourced from a company called Ammonite in the UK, which enabled filming in otherwise complete darkness. Offering a peek into the process, Singh says, “We did not ‘set up cameras’ but we had multiple cameras mounted in a couple of vehicles. The camera technology itself was complex and we had multiple car batteries for power, computers to record onto along with a pile of lenses to work with both during the day and night. As a result, our Gypsies were really cramped and once the two camerapersons in each vehicle took their positions they stayed like that for several hours at a time.”
Moreover, filming took place according to the convenience of the king of the jungle and little wonder that it would be the case when one wishes to portray the natural behaviour of the animals. Singh says, “Lions typically sleep during the day, move around in the late evening hours and well into the night, or in the early morning, so we had to work around their clock. Therefore, we had multiple camera crews working day and night. There was a crew that would film early morning and during the day, and then at least two teams would take over, starting in the afternoon and working late into the night, even many a time being out till 3-4 am. As we were trying to film lions outside the forest, it often meant travelling long distances every day and, of course, eating a basic meal of packed chapatis and potatoes!”
Wildlife features often entail working without a script and Singh attests to this fact.He says that initially they had planned on showcasing the efforts of rescue teams in Sasan Gir but ended up focusing on the story of a few prides instead. The team spent more than four months filming on location and for eight months thereafter did post-production work because the thermal images demanded a lot of time. However, it’s all worth it when one watches the final product. Does he feel that viewers will perceive lions differently after watching the programme? “In a fast changing world, where wild habitats are disappearing or getting fragmented, it will become increasingly necessary for us to live with animals. The onus is on us to enable that to happen and find mitigating strategies for conserving wildlife,” he says.
India’s Wandering Lions premieres tomorrow at 9 pm on Discovery Channel


State govt submits eco-tourism policy for Gir sanctuary to Gujarat High Court.

By: Express News Service
Ahmedabad Published:Jul 3, 2015, 3:58 - See more at:
 By: Express News Service
Ahmedabad Published:Jul 3, 2015, 3:58

No new licences for hotels, resorts in one km area of the border of the forest that houses Asiatic lions

The state government submitted its uniform policy on commercial establishments in the Gir forest that houses famous Asiatic lions, before the Gujarat High Court (HC) on Thursday.  The new policy has given a big relief to existing units, mostly hotels and resorts which were facing legal action following a suo motu petition in the HC against illegal and haphazard constructions in and around the reserved forest areas.

The government placed its policy draft before the division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Rajesh H Shukla, outlining its scheme for “governing the business of hotels and other commercial establishments outside the boundaries of Gir protected area.” The draft states that there will be no new licences for hotels and resorts in one km area of the border of the protected forest.  The government has also announced a new cess that will be called “eco development fee” to be levied at the rate of Rs 20 per sqmt while seeking conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural land.
Under the policy, the construction of low-rise buildings will be permitted between 1-2 km from sanctuary’s border, while the non-commercial residential buildings will be permitted from 2-5 km. The policy states that a committee, headed by district collector, having DCF as member-secretary and District Development Officer and Superintendent of Police as members, will clear projects in 5-10 km area.
The government has given a huge relief to the existing establishments inside the eco-sensitive zone from 0 km to 10 km who enjoy status quo, but those constructed without permission and clearances will be brought down. Interestingly, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd (TCGL), a government of Gujarat undertaking, will have to seek NOC from Chief Wildlife Warden before recognising a house outside of gamtal (village boundary) for homestay purpose.
Besides, under the new policy, all the existing units will have to get themselves registered with concerned DCF within three months from now which applies to all units falling within 10 km eco-sensitive zone. The renewal of licences will be cleared only after seeking opinion of DCF. Before giving NOC to any project, a gazetted forest officer will have to make spot visit of the project site and file a report. Swimming pools will be allowed in closed compounds.
This exercise comes in the wake of a crackdown on illegal constructions in the forest area.

Floods revive debate over translocation.

AHMEDABAD: The flash floods that hit Amreli a few days back have come as a shot in the arm for votaries of the proposal to shift Gir's Asiatic lions to Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. The devastating floods triggered by rains in the last week of June killed at least 10 lions.

Ravi Chellam, the man who came up with the lion translocation project, says it should serve as an eye-opener for the Gujarat government which should now agree to shift some of the lions to Kuno Palpur.

On the contrary, Gujarat government officials and experts based in the state say that such incidents are rare and that there is no fear of the entire lion population being wiped out by some disease or natural catastrophe. Some officials pointed out that the Kuno river flows right through the sanctuary and such floods can destroy the entire population in the sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh too.

Chellam, however, said that the floods were evidence that survival of the species was at risk because the big cats were segregated in only one sanctuary. The May 2015 census had revealed that there were 523 Asiatic lions in Gir and surrounding areas.

"There is no way to predict the occurrence of natural catastrophes. That is why it is crucial to establish at least one more free-ranging population of lions before such threats manifest again," said Chellam.

He told TOI over the phone that the Apex Court has already given its judgement on the issue. "We should translocate the lions. The state of Gujarat has already exhausted all its legal options," Chellam said.

The proposal to shift some of the lions triggered a legal battle which lasted a long time. Finally, in April 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that some of them should be relocated to a sanctuary in a neighbouring state. A 12-member committee was also formed by the apex court to look into translocation.

However, former additional principal chief conservator of forests and member of the National Board for Wildlife, H S Singh, said that the flash floods should not be used to push for the translocation of lions. The big cats will not be able to survive in the 49°C summer temperature of Kuno Palpur, he said.

Singh further said that the area that was affected by the floods is a new area populated by lions in the last decade. "The management plan for these areas is still being prepared," he said.

SC Pant, principal chief conservator of forests, said that the flash floods in Amreli were something new for the area and that is why it had caught the forest department unawares.

Dead lions in India floods spark catfight.

June 30, 2015
Wildlife experts voiced anger Monday at the death of nine endangered lions in floods in western India, saying it showed that at least some of them should be relocated to preserve their numbers.
Devastating floods triggered by annual monsoon rains last week killed at least 55 people in the state of Gujarat, which is also home to about 500 Asiatic lions in their last remaining sanctuary globally.
Gujarat’s chief wildlife officer S.C Pant said 100 forest officers were searching the banks of a flooded river that runs alongside the Gir sanctuary after eight lion carcasses were found, while another which was rescued later died.
“Already 27 lions have been tracked near villages near the river. They are in good condition,” Pant told AFP.
But wildlife expert Ravi Chellam said the floods were evidence that the survival of the species was at risk because the lions were living in only one sanctuary.
“There is no way to predict the occurrence of catastrophes, which is why it is crucial to establish at least one more free-ranging population of lions before such risks manifest again,” Chellam, who has studied the animals in Gir for years, told AFP.
The lions were caught in a legal and political battle in 2013 when the Supreme Court ruled that some of them should be relocated to a sanctuary in a neighbouring state.
Experts argued that restricting the lions to just one area put them at risk of inbreeding, disease and extinction.
But the Gujarat government has resisted any move from the state, where the lions are a source of pride, to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh state which says it has the expertise to manage them.
Pant rejected what he was said was an attempt to “exploit” the tragic deaths. “An isolated incidence of flooding cannot be the reason for shifting the lions to other states,” he said.
The cats are a sub-species of lion which are slightly smaller than their African cousins and have a fold of skin along their bellies. Census figures released in May show the population has increased in recent years to 523.

Reel brings to fore Gir royals’ coexistence with humans.

AHMEDABAD: A lion your backyard or field may be a scary thought for many, but for those who live near Gir National Park it is not only a matter of pride but also a reason sleep soundly, says filmmaker Praveen Singh, whose documentary "India's Wandering Lions" captures the coexistence between the people and the big cats.

The one-hour film is the first documentary by the Discovery channel filmed on the villages in the vicinity of the Gir forest and how the Asiatic lion and villagers co-habit. It shows that the increase in the population of lions has forced them to look for territory outside the national park and become an integral part of the farming community in Gujarat.

"We wanted to show that despite living outside the national park, the lions seemed to be doing well and the that people were tolerant towards them. There may be a couple of incidents of lions attacking people a year but most people are proud that lions live among them," Praveen Singh told TOI.

Tracking the lions for over two-and-a-half years, the filmmaker and his team interacted with farmers, NGOs and forest guards. "Many farmers say that the presence of lions deters deer from straying into their fields," he adds.

The lion population in the area has had a healthy growth from 40 to 523 but has led to many challenges. But barring being run over by trains, lions are quite safe even outside the sanctuary.

Singh was all praise for the forest department, saying, "The forest department is very prompt and alert. Whenever we got information of a lion being spotted and went out to the villages to film, the forest department would come and check our permits.