Friday, December 30, 2016

Minister Ganpat Vasava objects to lion translocation

| | Dec 30, 2016, 10.53 AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The 12-member expert committee appointed by the apex court's order may have found Kuno-Palpur suitable for lion translocation, but the Gujarat government has made it clear that they would not consider the issue till all the 36 studies, which have been specified under the new translocation guidelines of the International Union For Conservation of Nature, are not duly conducted.

Gujarat's environment and forest minister, Ganpat Vasava, said "We, in the state government, were never in favour of the proposal of translocating Asiatic lions from Gir forest to Madhya Pradesh, and would try our best to stop such a transfer." According to the 2015 census, there are 523 lions in and around the Gir Sanctuary, which is known as the last abode of Asiatic lions.
The state government, after studying the apex court order of April 2013, has asked the 12-member committee to carry out the studies afresh in compliance with IUCN guidelines, and then see if the site was suitable for translocation or not.

"It has now been over three years, but the committee, despite meeting six times, has not ordered any study following IUCN guidelines. We have on several occasions made it clear through officials that all studies listed in the fresh IUCN guidelines issued just before the April 2013 judgment have to be complied with, before putting the proposal to the government for translocating lions."

"We want a detailed study on the weather, its vegetation and even the prey base in the area. We also want MP to give us a detail of the area which will be notified for lions. After getting all these studies, the government will go through them," said the minister. "This is not a short-term measure. If it is for conservation, then all measures should be taken to ensure lions don't die in their new habitat in Kuno," said the minister.

Vasava said that since the time the issue of translocating lions to MP came up first, the government has made its stand clear. "The government is against such a move, and we will try our best to ensure that our lions remain here," Vasava said. "We are emotionally attached to these wild cats. Lions are not attacked by people even if they kill their cattle or livestock. The people are also against such a move," the minister said.

Would try our best to stop shifting of lions to MP: Gujarat Forest Minister Ganpatsinh Vasava

Gujarat Forest Minister Ganpatsinh Vasava today said the state government was never in favour of the proposal of `translocating' Asiatic lions from Gir forest to Madhya Pradesh, and would try its best to stop such a transfer.

By: | Ahmedabad | Updated: December 29, 2016 1:12 AM
The BJP government in Gujarat had submitted a 36-point report opposing the proposal to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court in 2013, he said. (Reuters) The BJP government in Gujarat had submitted a 36-point report opposing the proposal to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court in 2013, he said. (Reuters)

Gujarat Forest Minister Ganpatsinh Vasava today said the state government was never in favour of the proposal of `translocating’ Asiatic lions from Gir forest to Madhya Pradesh, and would try its best to stop such a transfer.
The BJP government in Gujarat had submitted a 36-point report opposing the proposal to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court in 2013, he said.
The SC-appointed committee, having wildlife experts and senior officials from Gujarat, MP and Centre, had not yet got back in touch with Gujarat government after the report was submitted, he said.
“Since the beginning when this issue of translocating some of our lions to MP came up few years back, Gujarat government has made its stand clear by saying we are against such a move and we will try our best to see to it that our lions remain here,” Vasava told PTI.
As per the 2015 census, there are 523 lions in and around the Gir Sanctuary, which is known as the last abode of Asiatic lions.
Without elaborating on the 36 points, the minister stated the report backed the state government’s argument that lions should not be shifted to Madhya Pradesh.
“Lions are not just wild animals to the people of Gujarat. Lions share a special bond with people living near the forest. Lions are a matter of pride and identity for us. We are emotionally attached to these wild cats,” he said.
Supreme Court had earlier ordered to shift some of the Gujarat lions to Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary in MP.

Lion safaris inside Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary soon: CM Vijay Rupani

Rupani was addressing his relatives and acquaintances after having darshan of his community deity in Chanaka village of Bhesan taluka in Junagadh district

By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Updated: December 25, 2016 8:04 pm

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday said that the state government was mulling over a project to allow tourism activities in Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary and building infrastructure for lion safaris.
“The state government is drawing plans to allow tourists to go on lion safaris inside Girnar forest very soon. State government has made necessary arrangements and tourism activity in this forest will begin in around three months,” an official release from state information department quoted the CM as saying.
Watch what else is in the news
Rupani was addressing his relatives and acquaintances after having darshan of his community deity in Chanaka village of Bhesan taluka in Junagadh district. His family members were also accompanying him to Chanaka, the native village of the Rupanis.
The CM further said that the lion safari park in Amreli will be thrown open after getting due clearances from Central government.
Asiatic lions are an endangered species. Their only wild population in the world is surviving in Gir forest and other protected areas in Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts of Saurashtra region in Gujarat. According to 2015 census, the population of Asiatic lions was estimated to be 523.
Presently, safaris are allowed inside tourism zone in Gir National Park and Sanctuary in Junagadh district. Tourists can also watch lion at Gir Interpretation Zone, Devaliya which is popularly known as Devaliya Safari Park.
If the tourism activity is allowed inside Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to 28 Asiatic lions, it will be second project to boost tourism around Mount Girnar, the highest peak of Gujarat. The central government had recently cleared a ropeway project for Mount Girnar.

Lions hounded again by canine distemper

Representative image Representative image

| | Updated: Dec 23, 2016, 06.26 AM IST
AHMEDABAD: The threat of canine distemper is again hounding the Asiatic lion in its last abode. After tests by Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) confirmed that the four lions sent to Etawah in UP from Gujarat's Sakkarbaug Zoo had died of canine distemper virus (CDV), UP authorities ordered vaccine for the virus. Seven doses of the vaccine, brought from the American Zoo Veterinary Association have also been sent to Sakkarbaug Zoo, because authorities believe the virus is present in Gujarat, the last abode of Asiatic lions.

While the alarm about the presence of canine distemper virus in Asiatic lions had earlier been raised by Dr Richard Kock of Britain's Royal Veterinary College, this time the former director of Sakkarbaug Zoo, Junagadh, C N Bhuva, has confirmed the threat. Dr Bhuva is now the advisor to UP government for the Etawah Lion Safari project.

Quoting findings, Bhuva said, "The IVRI has confirmed that the four lions which died in Etawah had died of canine distemper virus. We then sought information about its vaccine and ordered some doses."

"Though the dose was not scientifically tested, we learned that there was no side-effect and hence to save the other six lions we ordered and administered the vaccine with positive results," said Bhuva.

Electrocution of lions: HC sets up panel

| Updated: Dec 22, 2016, 12.13 PM IST
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Wednesday set up a 10-member committee to report on deaths of lions by electrocution in and around the Gir sanctuary. The committee will suggest measures to avert such deaths. The HC constituted the committee in response to a PIL filed by a wildlife activist, Biren Padhya, who had sought guidelines in this regard and demanded police investigation of the electrocution of a pregnant lioness on September 1. He moved court because forest department officials had been unable to identify the culprits.

The committee includes the additional chief secretary of the forests and environment department; the principal chief conservator of forests, wildlife; the managing director of Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (PGVCL); and the inspector general of police, Junagadh range. The court has permitted the petitioner to give his suggestions to the committee to curb electrocution deaths of animals in and around the protected area. Padhya wanted local representatives from panchayats to have a say in this matter because, according to him, the problem cannot be solved without the involvement of local residents.

During the hearing, the court also expressed concern about a lion entering a village earlier this week and killing a prey. Pandya's advocate, Nandish Thacker

First crocodile census in Gir sanctuary today

(Representative Image)(Representative Image)

| Updated: Dec 22, 2016, 01.57 PM IST
Rajkot: Around 300 forest officials and volunteers will fan out across the Gir wildlife sanctuary and the peripheral areas in the first ever crocodile census to be conducted by the forest department on Thursday.

The teams will cover a 10km radius around the sanctuary where crocodiles have been seen in sizeable numbers but never officially counted. Though voluntary wildlife organizations in Vadodara and Kheda districts have been conducting census in their respective areas, this is the first official crocodile count by the state forest department.

Mostly, marsh crocodile species is seen in the Gir forest and nearby regions, particularly in the Kamleshwar Dam.

The decision to conduct the census was taken during the national seminar on the crocodile and human conflict held last month in Sasan-Gir. During the meet, various methods to reduce crocodile-human conflict were discussed but the forest department did not have figures of crocodiles in the wild.

"The main objective of the crocodile census is to get exact number of this reptile in the forest and nearby regions. This will help tackle the human-crocodile conflict and minimize it," said a senior forest official associated with the census team.

Leopard mauls four-year-old to death near Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

Uttarakhand, leopard, uttarakhand leopard menace, wild animals, human dwellings, human areas, leopards wander, leopards terror, leopards attack, forest department, india nerws, indian express news
Different moods of the leopard have been captured in the coffee-table book Jawai: Land of the Leopard

The victim's body was found in the morning after which the forest officials were informed. The body was later sent for post mortem
By: PTI | Ahmedabad | Published:December 21, 2016 3:06 pm

A four-year-old girl was mauled to death by a leopard at Baradiya village in Visavadar taluka of Junagadh district near Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, a top forest official said Wednesday.
“Victim Rashmita Tikhayabhai was dragged late last night by a leopard when she was sleeping at a farm along with her parents who are farm labourers from Madhya Pradesh,” said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Gir (West) division, Pradeep Singh.

The victim’s body was found in the morning after which the forest officials were informed. The body was later sent for post mortem, Singh said. The family of the victim are migrant labourers from Mandva village in Alirajpur district of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.

They were staying at the farm land where Rashmita was attacked and killed. Forest department officials have laid a trap to catch the leopard so that it can be shifted to jungles away from human settlement, Singh said.

SC-appointed panel says MP is fit to host Gir lions

| | Dec 20, 2016, 06.18 AM ISTAHMEDABAD: The 12-member expert committee formed to oversee the translocation of Asiatic lions from Sasan Gir in Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur in Madhya Pradesh has found the sanctuary prepared to house the big cats.

The panel, formed by the apex court in 2013, concluded its maiden visit to Kuno-Palpur on Monday ."After spending nearly five hours at the sanctuary , the panel members found the atmosphere in Kuno-Palpur conducive to the shifting of lions.Gujarat, too, could not punch many holes in the prepared ness of MP to host the lions," said a member of the committee.

However, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh once again differed on the issue of International Union for Conservation of Nature guidelines. While MP demanded that the guidelines be taken up simultaneously with the translocation of lions to Kuno-Palpur, Gujarat forest officials in the committee insisted that the multiple studies mandated by IUCN be conducted prior to translocation. Census 2015 has pegged Gujarat's lion population at 523 lions.

During the meeting on Monday , Gujarat asked MP for the notification that declares a 700 sq km area of Kuno-Palpur as a national park. MP reiterated the process was underway and would be completed soon.Gujarat officials said according to the apex court's order this was a key requirement.

Palpur-Kuno ‘ideally suited’ for relocation of Gir lions: Expert committee

Updated: Dec 21, 2016 09:26 IST
Highlight Story

Activist Fayaz Khudsar had approached the apex court on the basis of a WII study, released in 2001, that Palpur-Kuno was best suited for Asiatic lions’ relocation. (File photo)

Palpur-Kuno Sanctuary in Sheopur district is “ideally suited” for relocation of endangered Asiatic lions found in Gujarat’s Gir Sanctuary, a Supreme Court appointed expert committee has observed.

Umesh Singh, Khemraj Dubey, Ranjeet Gupta, Hindustan Times, Gwalior
The 18-member committee, led by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) additional director general Bisen Singh Bonal, made the observation after visiting the sanctuary on Sunday and Monday.
The committee was constituted by the apex court in 2013 after a wildlife activist filed an PIL before it in 2006 seeking relocation of Asiatic lion from Gir to Palpur Kuno.
Activist Fayaz Khudsar had approached the court on the basis of a WII study, released in 2001, that Palpur-Kuno was best suited for Asiatic lions’ relocation. WII is an autonomous institution under the union environment and forest ministry.
Bonal said the sanctuary has developed into a full-fledged home for Asiatic lions and all members of the committee have unanimously approved it to become Asiatic lions’ second home.

“The sanctuary has extended prey base accompanied by wide variety of grasses, shrubs and dense forest cover etc. The sanctuary is ideally suited, even from the safety perspective, for the big cats,” Bonal told reporters.
He, however, did not specify any time-frame for relocation of lions. A final call will be taken at the highest level, he added.
“We will submit the report to the central government. Besides, more discussion with wildlife experts in Gujarat and Delhi will also take place. Sanctuary field staff will be given training on anti-poaching aspect and other issues,” he said.
Sources, meanwhile, said 10 lions and six lionesses will be shifted to Palpur-Kuno after final approval.

WATCH: Terrifying moment lioness roams through village looking for easy prey

PANICKING villagers screamed and dived for cover when a marauding lioness sauntered down a high street looking for an easy meal.

Lioness walks into townANI NEWS
The lioness walks into the town of Virpur in Sasan Gir
The endangered Asiatic lion came within inches of terrified residents after she was disturbed trying to eat a calf she had killed moments earlier.
Video footage shows the powerful predator, weighing around 250lb and standing almost four feet at the shoulder, being confronted by a van driver before scampering through the heart of the Indian village.
Deafening screams ring out as the lion causes pandemonium before vanishing from shot.
Hours later, she returned to the village of Virpur in Sasan Gir to continue feasting on her kill under cover of darkness.
The footage emerged today after the authorities revealed the incident was the latest close encounter of the lion kind on the edges of the world famous Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
Up to 520 Asiatic lions still survive in the park, making it the endangered big cat’s last bastion. One time, Asiatic lions could be found from Bengal to the Balkans, but have been persecuted to the brink of .
Lioness in townANI NEWS
Villagers screamed and dived for cover when they saw the predator
Today they have a delicate peace with people living close to the park, which has become one of India’s most famous tourist attractions.
I couldn't believe my eyes
Mrunal Joshi
Lions often wander from the safety of the park and there have been a number of attacks on humans.
Earlier this year, the authorities took 17 lions into custody to check their scats – droppings – to see if they had the remains of three people killed in the region. The lions were later released.
Officials today explained how the lioness filmed had been seen around the village late last week and that a trap has been set up to capture her safely.
Lion in townANI NEWS
The endangered Asiatic lion came within inches of terrified residents
The lioness is said to be habituated to people but has never attacked,
An official told the Times of India: “Our staff is present there and we are trying to capture her in a ringed cage.
“We don’t want to tranquilise her if possible. Once she is caged, we will release her in the forest again.”
In July, footage emerged of a pride of lions padding majestically through an Indian town like royalty on a walkabout.
The three adult lionesses and their six cubs were filmed by Mrunal Joshi sauntering outside his home in Junagadh, 150 miles north of Mumbai.
Lion in townANI NEWS
The powerful predator weighs around 250lb and stands at almost four feet at the shoulder
He had got up at 2.30am to go to the toilet and was left reaching for his camera as the pride marched outside his window.
Mr Joshi said: “I couldn't believe my eyes - so many lions were walking on the road right outside my house."
ZSL London Zoo recently opened its Land of Lions exhibition as part of its ongoing conservation efforts to save the Asiatic or Persian lion subspecies.
The exhibit is not only helping scientists breed the animals in captivity but is also giving the public a chance to stay overnight in luxurious accommodation at the zoo.
ZSL has also trained rangers operating in the lions’ heartlands in the Gir Forest to build up a better picture of what is happening inside their protected area and identify threats.

Lion cub abandoned by mother being artificially fed

Highlight Story

A veterinary doctor from Jodhpur’s Machiya Safari Park is attending the cub abandoned by its mother. (HT Photo)

Updated: Dec 19, 2016 22:12 IST
Salik Ahmad
Hindustan Times
A female cub born a week ago to Asiatic lioness Mehek in Sajjangarh Biological Park in Udaipur is being artificially fed after being abandoned by its mother, forest officials said on Monday.
Fearing that the cub would suffer from dehydration in absence of mother’s milk, it is being artificially fed US-made milk that was brought from Jodhpur, T Mohan Raj, Udaipur’s deputy conservator of forests (wildlife), told HT.
The cub was spotted by the forest department on December 13 and taken into care of veterinary experts after observing that its mother did not feed it for the first 24 hours after birth.
He said a veterinary doctor from Jodhpur’s Machiya Safari Park was attending the cub. Notably, another Asiatic lioness had given birth to three cubs on October 22 in Machiya Safari Park and abandoned them, which led to the death of two.
The doctor had attended the surviving cub in Machiya Safari Park and “we invited him here because of his expertise in taking care of lion cubs”, said Raj.
Raj said lions generally give birth to 2-3 cubs in a single litter and the number may go up to 6. This time, however, the lioness gave birth to only one cub.
The birth of a lion cub is the first in Sajjangarh Park since its establishment one and a half years ago. It is also the first litter of lioness Mehek. The park has two Asiatic lions – one male and one female – and two hybrid lions, both of which are males.
Sajjangarh Park, inaugurated in April 2015 by then union environment and forest minister Prakash Javdekar, has lions, tigers, panthers, slot, Himalayan bears, blackbucks, wolves, foxes, crocodiles, emu etc. Of the two tigers in the park, one is a white tiger which was brought from Chennai in September.
Since its inauguration, the park saw 2.83 lakh visitors and generated a revenue of Rs.85 lakh

IITGN students takes up issue of Human animal conflict in Gir forest

| | Dec 19, 2016, 07.01 PM IST
AHMEDABAD: Human animal conflict has become a critical issue at the Gir National Park and Sanctuary of Gujarat which constitutes the only landscape where the endangered Asiatic lions are now surviving and are conserved in the world. With an idea to contribute to the conservation of the endangered species, a student of Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) has taken up this challenge of minimizing the conflict.

Final year BTech student of IITGN, Rushabh Desadla plans to cool off this issue by giving a technological intervention to improve the water supply arrangement at the watering holes in the forests to benefit maximum number of animals and species in the ecosystem of Gir.

Desadla said, "One of the major reasons of man-animal conflict during the dry season is the source of water. As water becomes scarce, man and wild animals start depending on the common water sources which have not dried. This puts them in a situation of mutual conflict." 
The study will involve change in the design of the water points and changes in the material used. It will also look at the system of water supply to these water points and suggest improvements for more efficiently utilization of water.

Desadla said, "It is important to design these water sources in such a way that they are user-friendly for maximum number of species of animals, birds and reptiles. The water supply system should be such that the process doesn't disturb the animals as well as water is properly utilised. The use of solar pumps and wind mills for using local ground water will be examined." 

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and the Chief Wildlife Warden of Gujarat Shri Kuldeep Goel said, "As the habitat of these majestic animals lie in the dry and drought prone regions of the state, it is a huge effort for the Forest Department to arrange for drinking water for the wild animals. In Gir and its surrounding areas, the Forest Department has made around 500 artificial water points which have to be regularly filled. The efficient design and management of these water points is a key requirement for animals and birds during the dry season."

Gir National Park and Sanctuary in Gujarat constitute a landscape which is the only place in the world where Asiatic lions are found in their natural habitat. While these lions were once found all over West Asia, today, they are conserved only in the Gir forest where successful conservation efforts have tremendously helped the lion population to grow. According to a census carried out in 2015, the population of Asiatic lions in the wild had grown from 177 in 1968 to 523 in 2015. The study by IITGN will help the forest to conserve water for better animal habitat.

Wallabies arrive, pride in Prague

(Representative image)(Representative image)

| | Updated: Dec 19, 2016, 10.55 AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Five red-necked wallabies (kangaroo-like animals) and three African caracals will soon be on display at the Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh. These eight animals have reached the Sakkarbaug Zoo from Prague, Czech Republic.

The red-necked wallabies and caracals were received in exchange of the Asiatic lion Jamvan, and two lionesses Ginni and Suchi.

The Prague Zoo website states that "Three pure-blooded Asiatic lions, Jamvan the lion and two lionesses, Ginni and Suchi, are the pride of Prague Zoo. They came to Prague from the Indian state of Gujarat in autumn 2015 as the very first Asiatic lions in the last two decades to be successfully brought to Europe directly from their homeland."
Chief conservator of forest, A P Singh, said that another three pairs of rare birds will also arrive in Junagadh soon. "The caracal was needed for research, we have caracal in Kutch but there are less than six pairs left and hence getting them for the zoo was difficult. For research, this exchange will be helpful," said Singh.

The animals according to CCF officials were transported based on the guidelines of the central zoo authority of India and were sedated during travel.

Officials said that the consignment arrived late in the night at the Sardar Patel International Airport Ahmedabad and were then transported to Junagadh by road. Their cages were covered to minimize disturbance due to light and movement of the truck. A detailed protocol of their food timings have also been sent along with these animals.

The officials said that it was in December 2014 that the Czech government had sought some lions from the central government for its zoo. The CZAI had sent the file to Gujarat, because, under the Wildlife Protection Act, the permission of the chief wildlife warden was required. Officials said the state's chief wildlife warden and then chief minister, Anandiben Patel, had approved the proposal.

Zoo appeals for unwanted Christmas meat to feed hungry pride of lions

  • Bosses at the Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey are asking visitors not to bin their uncooked dinners but bring it along to feed

By21:47, 15 DEC 2016Updated16:47, 16 DEC 2016
Chessington's cubs need your grub

A theme park is offering visitors the chance to spread the Christmas spirit - by feeding turkey to their pride of LIONS.

Bosses at the Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey are appealing for visitors to bring in leftover uncooked meat to feed its lions , which has recently been boosted by the birth of three Asiatic lion cubs.
The female cubs, born in September to parents Kamal and lioness Rani, are having a growth spurt, meaning they need more and more meat.
Research recently found that around 4m Christmas dinners are binned each year - the equivalent of 263,000 turkeys - and in a bid to cut down on waste bosses at the theme park and zoo are urging people to donate their festive food.

A 'turkey drop' is being set up at the lion's enclosure for guests to leave their Christmas leftovers for the cubs to tuck into and enjoy.
Gary Davidson, 32, of Kingston-upon-Thames, south west London, said loved he the idea, adding: "I'm going to buy an extra turkey just so I can take it to feed the lions.
"I doubt they will want my leftover Brussels sprouts and parsnips though."
Oli Whiteway, who is running the turkey drop for Chessingtoin, said: "Our three new lion cubs are just developing a taste for meat and what better way to reduce Christmas wastage than giving leftover turkey to our cubs.
These lions would love your turkey
"If you have any turkey leftovers this Christmas make sure you get in touch!"
The theme park is open over the festive period, apart from Christmas Day itself.

'Turkey Drop': Feed a lion cub with your Christmas leftovers at Chessington World of Adventures

Feed a baby lion with your Christmas leftovers
Feed a baby lion with your Christmas leftovers

 14 Dec 2016 / Grainne Cuffe
Chessington World of Adventures is inviting guests to donate their leftover Christmas meat to new resident lion cubs.
The ‘turkey drop’ service will not only help feel the baby lions- three new female Asiatic lion cubs born just this autumn- but will help reduce waste over the festive season.
More than 4 million Christmas dinners are thrown away each year- the equivalent of 263,000 turkeys and 17.2 million Brussels sprouts, according to research by Unilever.
Chessington ‘Turkey Drop’ Executive, Oli Whiteway, said: "Our three new lion cubs are just developing a taste for meat and what better way to reduce Christmas wastage than giving leftover turkey to our cubs.
“The festive season tends to be a period of over-indulgence and we want to make sure no uncooked meat goes to waste.
“If you have any turkey leftovers this Christmas make sure you get in touch."
For readers who would like to partake in the Turkey Drop please email:

Cyclone Vardah: Here are five cyclones that hit the Indian coast recently

 Cyclone Hudhud battered Visakhapatnam and other coastal districts of Vizianagaram. (Source: File)Preceding cyclone Vardah, three cylones in 2016, one in 2015 and one in 2014 hit the coast of India.

Written by Ilona Dam | New Delhi | Updated: December 12, 2016 5:25 pm

Cyclone Vardah has made landfall off the coast of Chennai Monday afternoon and thousands have been evacuated in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh. The Metrological Department warned  those residing along the coast about the approaching cyclone Vardah. The cyclone had already left 1500 people stranded in the islands of Havelock and Neil in Andaman and Nicobar islands last week. The NDMA, Indian Navy, Indian Army and NDRF are all set to start rescue operations the moment weather conditions improve. Here are the last five cyclones which hit the coast of India.
1. Cyclone Nada (2016)
Cyclone Nada: Fishermen near their boats as waves break on the cost of the Bay of Bengal in Chennai. (Source: File) Cyclone Nada originated in the form of depression in the Bay of Bengal and hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala, earlier this month. There was light to moderate rainfall in both the states, with fishermen advised not to venture out into the sea because of the rough sea. With NDMA and NDRF( National Disaster Response Force) prepared to tackle the cyclone, not much damage was reported.
2. Cyclone Kyant (2016)
Cyclone Kyant made its way to India from the east-central Bay of Bengal, late in October this year. Although the cyclone did not make an impactful landfall, it resulted in strong winds over Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coast. It also resulted in moderate rainfall in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The sea continued to be rough for a few days, with fishermen advised not to venture in. People in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh saw a wet Diwali due to continuous downpour for many days.
3. Cyclone Roanu (2016)
Roanu originated from the south of Sri Lanka, which then intensified into a cyclonic storm as it accelerated its way to the coast of Bangladesh, in May this year. The cyclone resulted in around 200 deaths in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha. Reports revealed that Chennai had received the highest rainfall over two decades due to the cyclone. About 12,000 rescue officials were deployed in the city to control the chaos.
4. Gujarat Cyclone (2015)
Gujarat cyclone: There was a major loss of life, crops and the Gir forest. (Source :File) Also known as Deep Depression ARB 02, the cyclone resulted in floods in Gujarat in the month of June last year. The flood claimed about 80 lives and left many injured. Apart from loss of human life, the cyclone also led to the destruction of crops, death of cattle and damage to the Gir forest. The carcass of about 20 Asiatic lions were recovered from the forest. 4,000 people were evacuated from various villages and around 200 from the flood-affected areas. A compensation of Rs. 3 billion was announced after seeing the loss of human life and infrastructure.
5. Hudhud (2014)
A strong tropical cyclone, Hudhud led to a massive loss of life and property in eastern India and Nepal. The cyclone originated from a low-pressure system in the Andaman Sea, in May 2014. It made its landfall in October, affecting places like Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. Heavy rains and floods resulting from the cyclone led to 124 deaths in Andhra Pradesh and Vishakapatnam. A loss of approximately Rs. 21,000 crore was reported. The Modi government had announced Rs. 1000 crore as aid to the affected areas.

Outside banks in winter nights, Villagers near Gir forest fight leopards fear

Highlight Story

The SBI branch at Sankhda caters to about 20 villages close to the Gir Lions Sanctuary. Apart from anxiety over getting cash, people wairing outside banks are battling fear of leopard. (HT file photo)Updated: Dec 10, 2016 22:58 IST

The people from nearby villages are spending the nights outside the SBI branch in Sankhda -- the lone bank branch in the area -- so that they get the cash before it runs out when the bank opens in the morning.
However, sometimes there are other nocturnal visitors.
“A leopard strayed into the village about one week ago. The people who had lined up outside the bank and villagers managed to run it off into forest, but before that it killed a calf,” said the village sarpanch Santubhai Gohil.
The area is close to the Gir Lions Sanctuary.
The SBI branch at Sankhda caters to about 20 villages.

The sarpanch claimed that though the RBI has allowed withdrawal of Rs 24,000 a week, only Rs 2,000 were being disbursed by the bank as supply of currency was not adequate.
“Shops are no longer willing to sell milk and groceries on credit,” Gohil said.
People, desperate to withdraw cash, camped outside the bank armed with blankets and woollens, he said.
“I have made arrangement to provide the people who camp outside the bank with biscuits and water,” he said.
Farukh Raja, a resident of nearby Una town, said another problem was the banks were dispensing Rs 2,000 notes, which shopkeepers do not accept easily.
Some people were charging a premium Rs 200 to accept the Rs 2,000 note, he claimed.

‘Shrink ESZ, be ready for disastrous impact’

(Representative image)(Representative image)

| | Updated: Dec 8, 2016, 06.55 AM IST
RAJKOT: Experts and wildlife conservationists have warned of disastrous consequences if the state government drastically reduces the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode of Asiatic lions.

Last month, the forest department had sent a modified proposal of ESZ to the union ministry of forests and environment (MoEF) reducing the ESZ to just 500 m in place of the earlier 8 km to 17.9 km.

"If the ESZ is going to be reduced drastically, it would defeat the purpose of forest and wildlife conservation. ESZ is for the safe safe movement of lions and biodiversity around the Gir forest. The move will degrade eco-system around thet forest and eventually lead to more human-wildlife conflict as hazardous development will take place in vicinity of critical fringe of GWS,'' said Bhushan Pandya, renowned wildlife photographer .

While the government maintains that the decision to shrink the ESZ cover was taken following representations of locals, sources close to the development said that there was no such consultation with the people living around Gir, who are the main stakeholders of ESZ.

"Forest department has to go to people living in nearby villages and explain to them the importance of ESZ. Moreover, such an important decision, like shrinking ESZ, has to be taken by an experts' committee and they should take people into confidence. Even if government wants to re-size it, it has right to do it but ESZ should be remodified taking in account of wildlife and not anyone's vested interests,'' G A Patel, former principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden told TOI. "There is an urgent need to bring clarity on parts of ESZ among local villagers and explain Dos and Don'ts' in ESZ and assure them that it would not affect their livelihood," said V C Soni, wildlife expert and member of state wildlife advisory board.

‘Supply low voltage power to Gir at night’

| Updated: Dec 7, 2016, 06.42 AM ISTAHMEDABAD: To protect Asiatic lions from electrocution, the Gujarat government informed Gujarat high court that it has instructed the electricity distribution company not to continue high voltage electricity supply to areas in the Gir sanctuary at night.
The issue came before the high court when a wildlife activist, Biren Pandya, filed a petition demanding investigation by police into the electrocution of a pregnant lioness. The forest department has instructed Paschim Gujarat Vij Co Ltd to discontinue high voltage electrical supply at night to farms and households within the sanctuary. The state government also told the high court that it would restrict farm owners from putting up electric fences to keep wild animals away.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Safety net around Asiatic lions set to shrink

| | Dec 6, 2016, 05.49 AM IST
(Representative image)(Representative image)
GANDHINAGAR/ RAJKOT: Barely a month after proposing an ecosensitive zone (ESZ) covering 8 km to 17.9 km around Gir Wildlife Sanctuary , the state government has suddenly developed cold feet. It feels the safety net around this last abode of Asiatic lions is too large.
Now, the government has decided to drastically shrink the ESZ to just 500 metres and is preparing to send a new proposal to the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for its nod. This essentially means that if the shrunk ESZ is appro ved, all types of construction activity, including com mercially lucrative re sorts, hotels and mi ning, could be carried out more closer to the lions' habitat.

Sources close to the development told TOI that the de cision looks driven by `certain vested interests' and could potentially dent massive efforts undertaken to protect Asiatic lions. As per latest census, there are around 523 lions in Gir, half of which live on the sanctuary's fringes or outside.

The MoEF had notified the ESZ on its website as a preliminary notification but TOI has learnt that in the recently held meetings of ministers and forest department officers, a modified proposal was made to shrink the ESZ size.

"The drastic reduction in ESZ cover is beyond any reasoning and it has completely ignored the importance of Gir as the last refuge of Asiatic lions. The new proposal is being prepared under pressure of certain vested interests," a senior IFS officer in Gandhinagar told TOI.

State's forest and environment minister Ganpat Vasava confirmed the ESZ has been reduced. "After the general proposal was sent earlier, we consulted with farmers and residents.Considering their development needs, we have proposed reducing the ESZ area."

When asked if the government has acted under political compulsion, Vasava said, "We have to strike the right balance.We have considered the interest of man and animal both." Kuldeep Goel

ESZ blues: Gujarat gets Centre's assurance of positive steps

  • TOI
  • Ahmedabad

Locals say ‘no’ to mobile tower near Gir sanctuary

  • TOI
  • Ahmedabad

Over 40 hectares forest in lion's abode to be cleared for university

Over 40 hectares forest in Asiatic lion's abode will be cleared to construct Bhakt Kavi Narsinh Mehta University near Junagadh

  • The BKNMU has issued a tender notice of Rs 7.23 lakh inviting bids to chop forest trees near the village
  • Wildlife conservationists have raised an alarm over the proposed move
(Representative image)(Representative image)

| | Updated: Dec 2, 2016, 01.10 PM IST
RAJKOT: Wildlife conservationists have raised an alarm over the proposed clearing of nearly 44 hectares of lush green forest in the Asiatic lion's abode to construct Bhakt Kavi Narsinh Mehta University (BKNMU) in Khadia village near Junagadh.

The BKNMU has issued a tender notice of Rs 7.23 lakh inviting bids to chop forest trees near the village, located on the fringes of Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, home to nearly 45 lions. Moreover, Khadia is located in the eco sensitive zone notified around the sanctuary in 2013 where construction activity is restricted.

"Farm houses, hotels, resorts and such other activities that might lead to unregulated tourism shall be strictly cont rolled and be monitored in villages Patla, Vishal Hadmatiya, Mendpara, Dudhala, Malida, Pasvala, Kariya, Samatpara, Patwad, Chhodwadi, Nava Naghaniya, Mandlikpur, Bandhala, Bhalgam, Mandanpara, Toraniya and Khadia," the ESZ notification says. The land on which the uni versity is proposed to be built was allotted to the fo rest department (extension) and it has carried out plantation in 40ha area from 2007 to 2013 to improve the biodiversity adjoining the sanctuary .

" Area earmarked for varsity is a lions' corridor critical for movement of wild animals. Moreover, it falls under the ESZ. We had lodged our protests when government had first announced the plan. University can be set up anywhere but not at cost of our natural heritage,'' said wildlife conservationist Pranav Vaghashiya from Junagadh.

"The area where the university is proposed is a lions' corridor as it is close to the sanctuary.If buildings are constructed, it will adversely affect movement of wildlife and the lions will be forced to venture into human habitats. This will increase chances of human-wildlife conflict," R Senthil Kumaran, DCF , Junagadh, told TOI.

According to the ESZ norms, all activities in Girnar ESZ shall be governed by provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and Environment Protection Act, 1986. 
Dr F A Sheikh, registrar, BKNMU, said they have acquired the necessary permissions from the forest department to go ahead with the chopping of trees. "Some permissions are under process and we will go ahead with the due process," Sheikh told TOI.

"It is because of forest department's seven years of perseverance that the area around Khadia village has flourished with rich biodiversity and became prime area for wildlife habitat. We have seen lions preying and moving on the land allotted to BKNMU," a forest department officer told TOI.

Top Comment

" OH human beings...your greed is making life of these animals hell....they too are God''s creature......where will they live if you want to capture every thing for your pleasures"dev Dahiya

The ESZ guideline clearly says there shall be no consequential reduction in forest area, green area and agricultural area and an unused or unproductive agricultural area may be re-forested.

Times View

The decision to allot land for a university in the area which falls under eco-sensitive zone defeats the very purpose of demarcating space to protect wildlife. Already, nearly 5,000 people enter the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary daily and having a sprawling campus will only increase the chances of human wildlife conflict. The state government still has time to rethink about an alternate location for the educational institute.

Three super cute endangered lion cubs born at Chessington Zoo

The female cubs, who are all yet to be named, were born to Kamal and Rani in the autumn and are doing well

Ex-minister Kamal Morarka's book Roar: Asiatic lions, Indian tigers & the wild

ET Bureau|
Ex-minister Kamal Morarka's book Roar: Asiatic lions, Indian tigers & the wild
Ex-minister Kamal Morarka's book Roar: Asiatic lions, Indian tigers & the wild
Ex-minister Kamal Morarka's book Roar: Asiatic lions, Indian tigers & the wild
Updated: Dec 02, 2016, 01.25 PM IST
The book features rare photographs, like that of the Siberian cranes that travelled to India from the Arctic tundra of Russia.
The book features rare photographs, like that of the Siberian cranes that travelled to India from the Arctic tundra of Russia.
Kamal Morarka has donned many hats — from an industrialist to politician to philanthropist. Now, the former Union minister wants to share his passion of photography.

Sanctuary magazine, one of India’s most respected publishers of wildlife photographs, has brought out his new book, Roar.

This is the exotic cover of the book which features a handsome Indian tiger. (Image: BCCL)

With his trusted camera slung across his shoulder, Morarka has captured the beauty and the mystery of the wild during his travels all over India and other parts of the world.

A lonely rhino. (Image: BCCL)

The book features some rare photographs, like that of the Siberian cranes that used to travel to India from the Arctic tundra of Russia every winter. Morarka captured the last pair sighted in Bharatpur in 1992.

An elegant giraffe. (Image: BCCL)

Morarka also captured the power and dignity of the African elephant, the elegance of the giraffe, the majesty of the Asiatic lion and the quiet loneliness of the rhinoceros. But above all, he captured through his lens the passion and the beauty of the Indian tiger — his obsession, which is evident on the book’s cover. Roar not only features stunning visuals and the magic of the animal kingdom, but also a multi-faceted politician and his walk on the wild side. Want stories like this in your inbox? Sign up for the weekly ET Panache newsletter.

With an introduction by environmentalist Bittu Sahgal and a preface by Pritish Nandy, the book will feature the best of Morarka’s wildlife photographs taken over the past two decades.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

9 animals in India every wildlife lover must see!

These animals are mostly spotted in India and you shouldn't miss a chance to see them.

| Published: November 29, 2016 10:16 PM IST
snow leopard gulmarg
Wildlife enthusiasts love going to different national parks and sanctuaries to spot their favorite animals. India’s rich flora and fauna is reason enough to travel to the country or if you are already here, visit different parks as each one has its own attraction that is rarely found in others. So if you are a wildlife lover, here’s a list of animals that are mostly found in India and rarely in other parts of the world making you want to take a trip for spotting them. ALSO SEE 10 best national parks in India
Asiatic Lion

Listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Asiatic Lion is limited in number and found only in Gujarat’s Gir Forest. It is one of the five big cat species found in India and as of 2015, its population was 523 including male, female and cubs. These lions hunt in groups rather than venturing solo and the most striking feature that distinguishes it from the rest is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly. Since Gir is their only habitat, the area was declared a sanctuary in 1965 for their conservation and protection.
Golden Jackal
Golden jackal is easy to spot across India, more so in Rajasthan and Kolkata. Its built is slender with a pointed muzzle and short tail. Golden jackal is similar in looks to a grey wolf and is found in several parts of India as well Asia. They often adapt to their surroundings and are able to survive in extreme conditions as well. It mostly feeds on rodents, fruits and can survive without water also. To spot a golden jackal, you can visit Tollygunge Club or Keoladeo National Park.
ALSO SEE 10 endangered animals in India you should see
Being our national animal, it is only fitting that you spot one on Indian soil. There are several sanctuaries and national parks in India that are known for their tiger population. Some of them are Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh and Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra. The tiger is known for its natural beauty and India is also home to the royal Bengal tiger which is white in color. Only once you spot one on a jungle safari will you know the true beauty and fear of a tiger.
ALSO SEE 10 best places to spot tigers in India
Stripe-necked mongoose
Found in southern India, stripe-necked mongoose is a small predator that looks harmless but preys on rodents, frogs, crabs and reptiles. It can be distinguished by a black stripe running around its neck giving it the name. You will mostly find them in forested areas or near swamps and rice fields. There are two subspecies of this animal with one having a reddish tint around its fur. To spot them, visit Bandipur National Park in Karnataka.
Snow Leopard
Another endangered species by the IUCN, there are about 4000-8000 snow leopards in the world as per 2016 records. The big cat is an elusive one and extremely difficult to spot as it is mostly found in alpine regions at an altitude of over 3,000m above sea level. They also are white in color with black spots and blend in well with their natural surroundings. They can be found in the Himalayan region in India. You can try your luck spotting it in Ladakh at the Hemis National Park.
ALSO SEE A group of skiers spotted a snow leopard in Gulmarg, watch
They may look petite but hyenas are known to scare off even lions. They hunt in a pack and primarily catch their prey with their teeth rather than their claws. Hyenas are nocturnal creatures and you will find them hunting at night or sometimes in the early hours of the day. They eat very quickly and then store food. Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is one place to spot hyena and so is Velavadar National Park.
Marsh Crocodile
Found at various spots in the Indian subcontinent, this crocodile is also called mugger crocodile or simply mugger in many regions. It is a medium-sized croc and is mostly found in freshwater lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps and rivers. They attack their prey by pouncing on them when they get a chance as they come to drink water. Because of their dark color, they can camouflage well with the murky water. Marsh crocodiles are found in different parts of India but you can spot them easily in the Chambal River or at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka.
Jungle Cat
A medium-sized cat found in the Indian subcontinent, jungle cat is also called reed or swamp cat and is usually sandy, reddish-brown in color. They prefer remaining in a solitary environment and mostly come out to mingle during the mating season. Jungle cats are bigger than the usual cats and are known to hunt throughout the day. They live in burrows, grassland thickets and holes and avoid roaming in open areas. These creatures feed on rodents, insects, reptiles, small mammals and birds. In India you can spot them in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
The spotted predator is found in several places in India, sometimes even in urban areas causing much havoc and manic to city dwellers. Leopard, one of the most beautiful big cats is a natural predator and loves to chase and attack its prey over long distances. Because the leopard population is on a decline, it is under the vulnerable red list of UCIN currently. This is also because they are illegally hunted, sold and killed. If you want to spot one in India, visit Kabini Forest Reserve.
Have interesting travel photos you’d like to share with us? Send photos from your travels to, don’t forget to mention where you’ve shot the picture and get a chance to be featured on our website! So what are you waiting for? Hurry!
Have something to add to this story? Post your comments in the discussion board below; we will be thrilled to hear from you!
Published: November 29, 2016 10:16 PM IST | Updated: November 29, 2016 10:16 PM IST

Gir village to light up after 69 years

(Representative image)(Representative image)

| Nov 24, 2016, 06.34 AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Sixty-nine years after Independence, residents of Zankhiya village in Gir sanctuary, the last abode of the Asiatic lions, will get electricity connections and basic amenities.
However, this would not have been possible without an order from Gujarat high court (HC), which has directed the authorities to complete all formalities and finish the project in six months so that the villagers can get power supply for residential and agriculture purpose. This could be made possible through 10 years of incessant efforts by the villagers to secure basic amenities for themselves in this forest area. Interestingly, a decade ago, the state government declared that it had achieved 100% electrification in the state under the Jyotirgram Yojna.

Zankhiya, one of the nine villages in forest settlement area in the western region of Gir, tried hard to get power supply . Five villagers moved the HC in 2014. Later, the process for acquiring permissions from concerned authorities was put on a fast track after the HC observed that the progress was at "snail's pace". The standing council of National Board of Wildlife granted permission in March to lay 11KV overhead electric line. The nod was given on the ground that the proposal for electrification was "for a public utility of no impact on the wildlife of the area".

In its permission, the National Board of Wildlife asked the state authorities to ensure that no dama ge sho uld be cau sed to flora and fauna and insu lated cable should be used for transmission line. It also ordered that the labour camp during the project should be kept outside the sanctuary , that fuel and other requirement be met with by purchaser from the market and that the sanctuary must not be burdened.

The Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd told the HC that it had no objection in carrying out the project. After hearing the case, Justice R M Chhaya