Sunday, January 31, 2016

CZA to probe lion deaths in Etawah safari.

TNN | Jan 31, 2016, 01.29 AM IST
Kanpur: A team of Central Zoo Authority (CZA) is likely to visit the lion safari in Etawah on February 1 following directives from the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court to conduct a spot inspection of the safari in view of the recent death of lions.

The safari officials would present a report on arrangements there. "We have been working to explain things regarding arrangements of upkeep of animals to the CZA officials. The team will also suggest us the remedial measures for conservation of Asiatic lions," said DFO Chambal Anil Patel.

The high court had recently directed the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to conduct an inspection at the lion safari and apprise it of the circumstances under which the lions died, the cause of the deaths and suggest remedial measures. The CZA has been directed to submit its report in the next hearing on February 24. A division bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Rajan Roy had passed the order on January 20 in response to a PIL filed by lawyer Satish Kumar Mishra.

The lion safari has till now reported eight deaths. Three adults (a lion and two lionesses) and five cubs had died.

Four pair of Asiatic lions were brought for breeding between April and September 2014. One linoess died in October, followed by a lion on November 16, both reportedly of heart failure.

Two of the lionesses gave birth this summer just four days apart in July. Two cubs from the first died within 24 hours of birth and another two of three that were born four days later died shortly after birth. Lioness Tapasya had been ill and undergoing treatment for a week before her death.

Following Tapasya's death, Jonathan Cracknell, director of animal operations at United Kingdom's Longleat Safari Park, had visited the Etawah Lion Safari to check the health of other lions on January 16.

The lion safari project, which is being developed in Fisher Forest on Etawah-Gwalior highway, was conceived in 2005 when Mulayam Singh was the chief minister.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

3 charged after lioness prowled Dubai neighborhood.

FILE - In this May 10, 2015 file photo, an Asiatic lion rests at its enclosure at the Kamala Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmadabad, India. Gujarat forest officials say in a report that the rains killed at least 10 of the country's 523 lions, the last members of the subspecies left anywhere in the wild. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
FILE - In this May 10, 2015 file photo, an Asiatic lion rests at its enclosure at the Kamala Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmadabad, India. Gujarat forest officials say in a report that the rains killed at least 10 of the country's 523 lions, the last members of the subspecies left anywhere in the wild. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Three people have been charged with public endangerment over an incident that saw a lioness escape from a home in a Dubai neighborhood and prowl the streets for several hours.
Abu Dhabi’s state-run The National newspaper reported Tuesday that police say the owner of the lioness, the buyer and a middleman have been charged after the lioness escaped Thursday in Dubai’s al-Barsha neighborhood. She was safely caught and taken to the zoo.
It’s largely illegal to keep endangered or threatened wildlife as pets in the United Arab Emirates. However, The National, quoting unnamed officials, says that “exceptions are made for members of the ruling family or anyone who has official authorization and a permit.”
Keeping wild animals as pets is seen as a status symbol in the Gulf Arab states.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Census reveals that one in three lions live outside Gujarat sanctuaries.

Intresting news article.
AHMEDABAD: One of every three lions in Gujarat's Saurashtra lives outside sanctuaries, the final count of the May 2015 lion census has revealed.

Of the total 523 lions in the region, 167 are currently living outside protected areas. Of them, 80 live in the Savarkundla, Lathi and Liliya areas of Amreli, making the district

Stock Photo.

Stock Photo:

Asiatic Lion in a national park in India. These national treasures are now being protected, but due to urban growth they will never be able to roam India as they used to

Lion to roar on Rajpath during Republic Day Parade.

File photoFile photo

| TNN | Jan 22, 2016, 07.09 PM ISTAHMEDABAD: The roars of the Asiatic Lions will be heard on the Rajpath on January 26. The state will present the endangered Asiatic lions in the Gir wildlife sanctuary as the theme of its tableau in the national-level Republic Day Parade in New Delhi.
The decision to have the tableau on Asiatic lion was taken by the Government as Gir wildlife sanctuary is celebrating the golden jubilee of its foundation this year. Officials said that the the Minsitry of Defence has approved 'Gir Sanctuary - Asiatic Lions' theme for the Republic Day Tableau.
Not only the Asiatic Lion, the Gujarat tableau will also show the youth of Siddi tribe, settled in the Gir forests, performing their traditional dance 'Dhamaal' in their tribal attire.
According to officials the front portion of the tableau shows the Asiatic lion as the King of the Jungle, while second half would have cattle owners with the Gir cows living among the lions. The tableau will also show how Gir has used wind engery to draw water and fill water ponds for the animal along with a lions and other animals drinking water from the same.
Gir sanctuary is known for its diversity in vegetation and wildlife. As many as 39 species of herbivorous and carnivorous rare species and 300 species of rare birds, including endangered vulture. The tableau will also depict some of the rare and exotic varieties.
It was on September 18, last year that the Gir sanctuary completed 50 years of conservation. A special postal stamp was also launched on September 18 as the Sanctuary completed 50 years. Gir has seen the lion population growing to 523. The protected area, which was 1265 sq. km. in 1965, has now expanded to 22,000 sq. km. as the lion kept conquering back lost territory.
From a time many centuries back when the lion kingdom used to cover almost whole of east Asia, it is the people of peninsular Saurashtra who saved the beast from complete annihilation. Hunted down by humans and tigers, Gir had 174 lions when it was notified as a sanctuary on September 18, 1965. In 1904, the Nawab of Junagadh Mohabat Para III banned hunting. However, hunting with permission continued even after Independence and was completely banned only after the sanctuary was declared in 1965.

Lion translocation: Govt prepares affidavit for SC

| TNN | Jan 18, 2016, 10.57 AM IST
Ahmedabad: Gujarat government is preparing to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court regarding translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir Sanctuary to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh. A committee has also been formed to discuss the matter before the af fidavit is filed.

The affidavit has become necessary because of a petition filed by the Wildlife Conservation Trust, a Rajkot-based NGO. The NGO has claimed that to shift the lions without considering their pride behaviour may be counter productive and threaten their survival.

However, though the petition is yet to be heard, the court has asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and all concerned governments, including Gujarat and Rajasthan, to file an affidavit in connection with the petition.

Sources in the department said that the proposal to file the affidavit was brought up for discussion before the State Board for Wildlife.

The petition filed by Wildlife Conservation Trust has even made Rajasthan govern ment and the NTCA a party.

The officials said that the effect of the petition was that even the 12member committee, formed as per the April 2013 direction of the Supre me Court which ordered translocation of Girlions to Kuno Pal pur, has decided to ma ke the NTCA and Rajasthan government a party and seek their opinion before actually moving the lions to Kuno Palpur.

The officials said that the 12-member committee wants to know the preparedness of Rajasthan if the lions use the same corridor and move to Ranthambore.

British wildlife expert visits Etawah safari

| TNN | Jan 17, 2016, 01.44 PM IST
Kanpur: Director of animal operations at United Kingdom's Longleat Safari Park, Jonathan Cracknell, visited the Lion Safari in Etawah to check the health of lions. Forest department officials said his inputs might help in checking the deadly trail of the deaths of lions at the safari. Jonathan has extensively worked on conservation of wild cat species, including lions, leopards, jaguars and tigers.

British expert met principal secretary, forest, Sanjiv Saran, besides senior forest officers including Rupak De and director of lion safari Sanjay Srivastava, and gave them tips on big cat conservation.

"Jonathan has given his precious time to understand everything here from the atmosphere, health and well-being of the animals, to educating safari authorities on the threats facing the Asiatic lion. He was fully satisfied with the arrangements here, particularly upkeep of the animals. He also visited the section where domestic animals are being slaughtered for extracting meat on which lions feed. Also, Dost Mohammad, the keeper of Jessica, has arrived at safari from Gujarat to take care of the lioness, which had exhibited sign of illness soon after the death of Tapasya. Now both Jessica and Pataudi are fine," informed director of the safari.

However, sources said Jonathan's visit was significance in view of the most recent death of lioness Tapasya, brought from Sakarbaugh zoo of Gujarat along with two other lions Pataudi and Jessica on December 28 for the breeding programme at Lion Safari, but fell ill and died on January 9 morning.

Gauging the seriousness of the recent casualty, the state machinery became active and the experts from the United Kingdom's Longleat safari park were being consulted on the line of survival of the big cats at Lion Safari-- a favourite project of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
"Jonathan had given valuable tips to the veterinarians including senior vet from Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Pashu Chikitsa Vigyan Vishwavidyalaya, Mathura, R N Pandey and Kanpur zoo vet R K Singh. A close vigil is being maintained by him in coordination with other veterinary doctors in the Lion safari in Etawah on the condition of lions," informed Srivastava.

Jonathan has an expertise in treating Asiatic lions. "At present he has been taking care of several Asiatic lions and other species of big cats in United Kingdom's Longleat Safari Park," informed a senior forest department official while talking to TOI. Four pair of Asiatic lions were brought in for breeding between April and September 2014. One lioness died in October, followed by a lion on November 16, both reportedly of heart failure.

Two lionesses gave birth this summer just four days apart in July. Two cubs from the first one died within 24 hours of their birth, and another two of three that were born four days later also died shortly after being born.

Let Asiatic Lion roar to its glory.

Let Asiatic Lion roar to its glory
The Asiatic Lion once had a natural habitat in India. Today its population is confined to Gir, Gujarat. The symbol of our national pride needs consistent efforts to preserve it. Thinkstock

Posted at: Jan 17 2016 12:36AMBaljit Singh, Lt General (Retd)

Thanks to Lord Curzon’s refusal to hunt more lions in the jungles of Junagadh that the royal species survived. In 2013, the apex court allowed translocation of the lion, but efforts to do that have met with some strange resistance. To be able to survive in its natural habitat, the lion needs care and fresh areas to breed. We are duty-bound to help the lion
Dan Ash, director of US Fish and Wildlife Service, has reminded us: “The lion is one of the planet's most beloved species and an irreplaceable part of our shared global heritage…” and in the next breath, motivate us in India that “If we want to ensure that healthy Lion populations continue to roam…the forests of India, it is up to all of us…to take action” (The Tribune, December 23, 2015).  In the geological timeline when Africa was connected with Asia by a “land bridge”, the African Lion had arrived in Asia. Over time the bridge between the two continents eroded. Several factors impacted the biology and morphology of the original but isolated émigré lion population that gradually evolved to emerge as the Asiatic Lion.
Land of Big Cats
It is also another evolutionary truth that once the whole matrix of the “Living Planet” took firm roots, we on the Indian sub-continent had inherited a fairly substantial share of the world's diverse faunal riches. And on the first stock-taking of our inventory, we emerged as the only country to have had the gift of all the “Four Big Cats” — the lion, tiger, leopard and the cheetah.  The Asiatic Lion, as the name implies, had a stable population in today's Turkey, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and India. In northwest India it was such a common occurrence that in the Jahangirnama the Mughal Emperor states that in a span of 39 years, he alone accounted for 86 lions, mostly from an area which approximates to the Panipat-Mathura tract of today. And just as the Mughal empire extended steadily eastward, so was lion hunting pursued with vigor through the length and breadth of the Gangetic plain, right up to Jharkhand and Orissa. 
On verge of extinction
Once the British ousted the Mughals, they too showed scant restraint in pursuit of the lion (even though they had evolved and put into practice in the UK a code of ethics for “Field Sport” which stipulated controlled hunting, only). With the availability of more lethal weapons, the Asiatic Lion in India was almost wiped out as a species by 1900 AD but for one pride of twenty five animals (some accounts place this figure at twelve) confined to the Gir Forests of Junagadh, in Gujarat. And by this time elsewhere in Asia, the species had already been shot to extinction.  Around the same time, the beleaguered Asiatic Lion in the Gir forest had something of a solace: Lord Curzon arrived in India. It was a common practice then for the princes and maharajas to host the viceroy over the Christmas weekend. In 1902, the Nawab of Junagadh invited Curzon to his fiefdom for a lion hunt. It is to the credit of Curzon that not only did he decline the invitation to hunt but instead inveigled with the Nawab to prohibit lion hunting in totality and save the species from extinction!
Help arrives
That today their numbers have increased to around 500 is a tribute to the collective vision of Lord Curzon, Jawaharlal Nehru and the Nawabs of Jungadh. Much in the spirit of Curzon, Prime Minister Nehru too provided patronage and political will by personally guiding the Lion revival National Action Plan which created conditions for the lion to survive. So, we may now proudly call it the Indian Lion.  On April 16, 2013, wildlife enthusiasts had woken to the cheery news that the Supreme Court allowed translocation of Asiatic Lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh saying the species needed a second home. It gave the wildlife authorities six months to complete the process. A factor of animal biology perhaps not known to most Indians is that the entire surviving population of approximate 500 Asiatic Lions in Gir today has sprung from one common blood-line of 20-odd animals, in 1903. Implicit in this truth is the potential hazard that they can be wiped out altogether, in one single epidemic.  So preparations were set afoot back in 1995 to create for the Asiatic Lion a viable “second home” in Madhaya Pradesh (stocked with adequate prey-base) at Palanur Kuno, an erstwhile stronghold of the lion till the 1860s. But the effort was scuttled by a fiat of Narindera Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, on the argument that (a) since the Union Government had shown a poor track record in saving the tiger, there is little hope that they will do better with the lion, and (b) the “second home” would rob Gujarat of much of its wildlife tourism revenue. 
National symbol
We do not know why Emperor Ashoka had installed the Lion atop the pillars bearing his edicts, hundreds o years back. Over time, the stylized Lion of Ashoka's pillar, also became the symbol of India in 1952. Thus it has become a tacit article of faith with us that the Asiatic Lion shall have a permanent home in India for all times to come.  Thank you, Dan Ash, for providing us a noble cause in 2016.

The Gateway Hotel Gir Forest.

Gateway GirThe Gateway Hotel Gir Forest, is located at the edge of the Gir Forest. The hotel, set in an idyllic environment is ideal for a relaxing holiday. With its surroundings of dry deciduous and tropical thorn forests, the hotel faces the Hiran River to offer a serene setting, away from the bustle of the city. Home to the Asiatic lion, the Sasan Gir Forest is one of the only two natural habitats of this subspecies around the world. The latest census recorded the lion count in Gir at 411. Also integral to the experience will be the jungle safaris the hotel will provide in an open Gypsy. For those who prefer a cultural expedition, the hotel is also close to various temples such as the Somnath, Banej and Kankai Temple, and historical destinations such as Junagadh, Gondal and Rajkot.

After the murder of Cecil, the lion.

Thursday, 14 January 2016 | Hiranmay Karlekar | in Oped
Recent US restrictions on the import of lions as trophies are not enough. African nations must ban hunting as a sport and take proactive steps to prevent poaching
Cecil, a majestic African lion, was lured out of Zimbabwe's Hwange Game Sanctuary and killed illegally with a bow and arrow by a trophy-hunting American dentist, Walter Palmer, in July last year. The outrage led to loud protest not only against Palmer's savage action but against big game hunting as such. The outrage outcry, however, does seem to have produced some result. One of South Africa's national newspapers, Saturday Times, reported on January 9 that from January 22, the United States' Endangered Species Act will officially include lions, which means that the import of lion trophies to the US will be severely restricted.
According to the Saturday Times report, the step follows US Fish and Wildlife Services classification of lions in southern and eastern Africa as threatened, and in central and western regions as endangered, species. The organisation, according to the report, believes that the population of lions has declined by at least 50 per cent over the last three decades. The data in its possession shows that the number of Asiatic lions, and the lions of western and central Africa genetically linked to them, comes to over 1,400, of whom 900 are found in Africa and 523 in India. While this sub-species meets the requirement for being classified as endangered, another sub-species, found in southern and eastern Africa, numbering perhaps between 17,000 and 19,000, qualifies to be dubbed as threatened, species.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Services, more than 5,600 lions have been killed and imported by American hunters over the past decade. This makes for an average of 560 every year. A marked decline in the killing of lions should follow the imposition of restrictions on the import of lions into the US as trophies. Also, the move will serve to counter the glorification of hunting — not only of lions but all other animals and birds — that murder for trophies serves to promote.
As important, the imposition of restriction is tantamount to another disapproval of hunting which will serve to further stigmatise a murderous exercise which passes for sport. It will, however, not be enough in itself for saving the lion. Significant results will follow only when African nations where they are found, ban their hunting, make preventive action on the ground against poaching more effective, and countries outside Africa criminalise the action and not just make the import of lion trophies difficult.
Meanwhile, animal lovers the world over must step up their campaign against hunting which was glorified as an activity requiring courage and skill in the use of weapons at a time when it was essential for procuring food and fending off attacks by wild animals when humans were vulnerable to these. Both grounds for glorifying hunting disappeared as agriculture became the main provider of food and invention of increasingly sophisticated firearms enabled the cowardly killing of animals from a safe distance. Hunting and the glorification of hunters, however, continued because the former had by now become an industry, akin to tourism, involving transportation, arrangement of accommodation and the provision of services providing employment — for example of armies of “beaters” driving wild animals toward hunters by scaring them by beating drums or firing in the air.
Poaching for animal body parts — like rhino horns for their alleged power as an aphrodisiac — has contributed to poaching, which is but another form of hunting. Human-animal conflicts, caused by rampant expansion of human habitations into areas where animals earlier roamed freely, have also contributed to justifying animal slaughter. It is a messy picture. It will take much time and effort to convince people that hunting for fun and excitement or for trading in animal body parts, should be regarded as nothing short of murder. Equally, mindless expansion of human habitation needs to be stopped as, besides promoting human-animal conflicts, it is, in the long term, endangering human existence by undermining the environment. But it has to be made for the survival of both humans and animals.

Lions die, heads roll in Uttar Pradesh.

| TNN | Jan 11, 2016, 12.21 PM IST
LUCKNOW: Is UP government not getting the 'best of specimen' in exchange from zoos in other states for its ambitious Etawah lion safari? Or is it the need to raise at least ten lion cubs to open safari for visitors by October 2016, the official deadline for the project, that has put the state government in a hurry?

Removal of three senior officers, two of them the chief wildlife wardens from the post, following the death of lions in the safari since November last year has not stopped lions and cubs from dying at Etawah safari. Contrarily, doubts are being raised on government's dealing of a `biological' project.

A source in UP forest department said, "The health of the lion is certified by the zoos from where we get the big cats in exchange. If the lion is outwardly healthy-looking, we get it. We do not get the lion medically examined by our own doctor." In that case, stress due to transportation and travel could severely impact the vulnerable lions.

Lioness Tapasya who died on Saturday was ill ever since she reached safari in December 28 and was kept separately from the other two lions, a male and a female, brought along from Sakkarbaugh zoo of Gujarat to safari in Etawah. Lion safari authorities said the lioness's haemoglobin count was as low as 5.2 units and she was anaemic. The female had stopped eating.

Three-and-a-half-year-old Tapasya was a pre-breeder and had mothered cubs while her stay at Sakkarbaugh zoo. Seven-year-old Jessica, another lioness brought from Sakkarbaugh zoo is also a pre-breeder. Thinking pre-breeders are strong and would give healthy cubs to the safari, the government did not chose the wild-caught lions, like it did earlier.

Sources share that some of the lions which were brought earlier to Etawah from zoos in other state were caught from the wild and put in zoos for being aberrant or old or injured before they came to Etawah.

Since lionesses learn child-rearing from their mothers and older females in the pride, wanting pre-breeders in exchange from Sakkarbaugh zoo was the obvious choice of the UP government after the death of five cubs in July in the upcoming safari's breeding centre. But before the department could proceed with its plan to pair the lions again, the lioness died.

To make Etawah lion safari project proceed without hiccups, state government has also roped in a 'Gujarati' doctor who has worked with animal husbandry department of Gujarat and zoos for over two decades. But lions continue to die in Etawah.

Officers at Etawah safari rue that they do not have enough literature on lions and hence can not say much on impact of climate, terrain on lions or on their social requirements.
State government had brought under exchange programme from other zoos, four pair of pure bloodline Asiatic lions, for Etawah safari at different points of time in 2013. While Kuber and Heer were brought from Rajkot zoo, Vishnu and Lakshmi, the pair that died in safari in October-November last year, were brought from Hyderabad zoo. Gigo, Grishma, Manan and Kunwari were brought from Sakkarbaugh zoo in Junagarh district of Gujarat.

Manan and Kunwari's was the first pair to be released in safari in April last year. Vishnu and Lakshmi died due to cardio respiratory failure. Both had contracted paralysis within ten-days of their stay in safari.

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There must be a Cause analysis of this, so that the tigers and lions remain healthy now on...Shubhankar Banerjee

"The entire area was sanitised after the incident. What could have made Tapasya die is not known," said an officer.

Etawah safari, at present, has three pairs, Manan and Kunwari, Gigo and Heer and Kuber and Grishma. Two cubs born to lion pair Heer and Gigo and three born to Kuber and Grishma died in July. Three cubs were still-born, two were discarded by the mother, Heer. "While the mother had abandoned one of the cubs right after the birth, the another one she abandoned an hour after the birth. But considering that lions have only 25% survival rate, this was not a rare thing happening at Etawah safari," said a senior official.

The tragedy, however, has made forest department put the mating plans for lions on hold for now. The department was getting a `mating-plan' for lions ready for successful breeding this time. Lion pairs were also being put on compatibility-test.

The mane attraction! New enclosure for lions at London Zoo.

Artist’s impression of Land of the Lions
Artist’s impression of Land of the Lions. Picture: Tony Bates. Below: Indi, the Asiatic lioness.
 Indi, the Asiatic lioness.
Published: 8 January, 2016
LONDON Zoo has announced a brand new “lion experience” that will open in March.
Land of the Lions is inspired by Sasan Gir park and sanctuary in India – the endangered Asiatic lions’ only habitat.
Visitors can see the big cats roaming the “windowless” exhibit, explore the park and peer in from an overhead walkway at a world designed to look like the Gujarat state, with rickshaws, huts and a truck from the region inside the park.
And while the thought of sleeping with the lions may not appeal to everyone, the zoo is offering the chance to do just that, with new overnight accommodation in lodges.

Mangaluru's biological park gets a pair of Asiatic Lions from Sakkarbaug.

| TNN | Jan 8, 2016, 06.50 PM IST
Mangaluru: Visitors to the Biological Park at Dr Shivarama Karanth Pilikula Nisargadhama at Moodushedde near here were treated to the sight of a pair of Asiatic Lions - male and a female - on Friday. The park that already had three female Lions obtained these Asiatic Lions under an exchange programme from Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden, Junagadh in Gujarat. Incidentally, these Asiatic Lions presently are found only in the Gir National Forest in Gujarat.

H Jayaprakash Bhandary, director of the biological park told TOI that the Lions arrived at the Park late on Thursday and have already been kept in the enclosure for people to view them. These Asiatic Lions, aged around six years, will be kept separately from the hybrid Lions, he said adding they cannot be mixed or allowed to inter-breed. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed these Asiatic Lions as an endangered species, he noted.

In addition, Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden has also sent a pair of white peacock, four Alexandrine Parakeets, a pair of Lady Amherst's pheasant, four each of Ibis and Spoonbills, he said. These will be kept in the specially designed aviary, Jayaprakash Bhandary said, adding the arrival of these new visitors has increased the number of mammals, reptiles and birds to the park to 115 and the total number of all varieties of animals present at the zoo to more than 1,000.

The biological park in return has sent two king cobras, two mousedeer, sand boas, wine snakes and tortoise to Sakkarbaug, Jayaprakash Bhandary said adding the new arrivals will give visitors the opportunity to see the King of the Jungle up close and in person. Incidentally, as per the latest Lion census data released by Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel last year, the total number of Asiatic Lions in Gir Forest has gone to 523 in 2015 as against 411 in Census held in 2010.

Land of the Lions

An amazing new experience opening Easter 2016 at ZSL London Zoo 

ZSL London Zoo’s biggest and most breath-taking experience ever will be unveiled to the public this Easter, as the doors open to Land of the Lions on Friday 25 March 2016.
Home to a pride of endangered Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica), the £5.7m Land of the Lions features an awe-inspiring ‘windowless-view’ of the big cat’s enclosure. As visitors enter the crumbling ruin of an amphitheatre-style Lion Temple, the majestic big cats will roam just metres away, separated only by fine wires.
Created to transport visitors from the heart of London to the vibrant setting of Sasan Gir in India and covering an expanse of 2,500sqm (27,000sqft), visitors will enter through a grand stone archway, before picking up their ‘park pass’ at the Gir Tourist Information centre. They’ll then explore Sasan Gir Train Station - where the odd lion might be spotted snoozing on the tracks - or embark on a journey on the overhead walkway, to discover the troop of lively Hanuman langur monkeys, and gaze across the lions’ forest home.
ZSL London Zoo’s designers visited the lions’ wild home in the Gujarat state in India for inspiration and ideas, and worked with members of London’s Gujarati community to ensure the exhibit lives up to the land it emulates. Rickshaws, bicycles, sacks of spices, maps, rangers’ huts, and even a life-size truck – researched, sourced and shipped from India – are dotted around Land of the Lions, both inside and out of the lions’ domain, highlighting the uniquely-close proximity in which Asiatic lions live with people in their native Indian habitat.
Brand new live-action adventure at Land of the Lions will see visitors become part of the story, as they help ZSL’s forest rangers deal with a ‘lion-emergency’ in the Gir Forest, and lend a hand with the veterinary team who come to the rescue. Those in search of an adrenaline-rush can hop on a bike and rely on pedal-power alone to see if they can outrun an Asiatic lion – albeit an imaginary one - using the preferred mode of transport of the conservation rangers working in the wild.
Wild Asiatic lions are found only in the Gir Forest region, in the Indian state of Gujarat. Protected by law, the lions play an important role in the local community who deeply value the presence of the big cats. But due to their limited range, Asiatic lions are at threat from disease outbreak and conflict with humans in villages less comfortable with their presence.
The result of ZSL’s Asiatic lions fundraising campaign, Land of the Lions will provide the perfect home for the big cats, and promises an enthralling new experience which will support and promote ZSL’s international conservation efforts to protect Asiatic lions.
lease note: There are currently no lions on show at ZSL London Zoo until Land of the Lions opens at Easter 2016.
Liontrust, the specialist fund management company, are proud sponsors of ZSL's Asiatic Lions Campaign.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Lion Queens make Gir sanctuary a roaring success.

TNN | Jan 7, 2016, 02.28 PM IST
Pune: Darshanaben Kagada is one among eight siblings from a traditional Rajput family. The prospect that she would be a forester at Gujarat's Gir sanctuary, and become a part of the Lion Queens of India, probably never struck her kin.

Kagada, along with Kiran Pithiya, and their leader, Rasilaben Wadher, are a team of four foresters and guards at the world's last open wildlife refuge for Asiatic lions. They have been working in the Gir forests ever since the state government allowed women forest guards in 2007.

Recently, their work to save one of the most endangered species on the planet has grabbed the attention in the western media, and their lives in the forests were telecast by a popular nature channel. Kagada and her two colleagues are in Pune to receive the Kirloskar Vasundhara Satkar (felicitation) at the 10th edition of Kirloskar Vasundhara International Film Festival on Thursday.

"All my siblings are girls. They were married at a young age because that is the outlook my father and most families in my community have. I am probably one of the very few, or maybe the only one doing such a job," she told TOI on Wednesday.

The journey so far has not been smooth. "There are challenges_inclement weather and lions to be tracked all the time, especially when cubs are born. The area is huge and we have to travel great lengths to ensure the safety of all the animals, not just lions. But it is the satisfaction that we are working with nature and working hard to preserve it for all who come to see the lions," Kagada added.

Tracking has helped keep the Asiatic lion's population healthy. For a species which numbered in double digits in the 1990s, the 2015 lion count stood at around 523.

"The tracking process is thorough. It is through pug marks which can be spotted by trained eyes in and around the water sources because they will come every day. Spotting and photographing lions is also a method while we are in a car or on motorcycle patrols," Pithiya added.
They even have a rapport with the animals, particularly the lions, by noticing their pattern of behaviour, which helps of they turn against the people assigned to protect tem.

"Lionesses are very protective of cubs. Sometimes, we are compelled to rescue the cubs and lions separated from their pack. They can attack us when we check the cubs' conditions. A stick and the motorcycle mostly do the trick, but depending on the lion's size, a tranquilizer is used," Kagada said.

The job sounds like a life of adventure, but the women admit their families think otherwise. "My husband is also a forest guard, and is supportive. I once brought my mother from my village to look at the lions. When she saw what I did, she demanded that I quit ," Pithiya said.

And how long are they willing to work in wilderness ? "As long as our love for nature remains," Kagada said with a laugh.

Lion swims half a kilometre down a creek India.

January 4, 2016

Cats aren't known for their affinity with the water, but video emerging from India over the weekend has captured an even rarer moment.
It shows an endangered Asiatic lion swimming about half a kilometre down a creek in the state of Gujarat on Saturday morning.
Watched on by nervous locals, the lion swam downstream towards the ocean until it reached the lighthouse in the town of Jafarabad, the Times of India reports.
Residents quickly called forest department officials who rushed to tranquilise the lion and move it back into the forest.
There are just 500 lions left in the wild in Asia, all within the one state in India.
Before being hunted to extinction, Asiatic lions had previously lived in Syria, Iran, Turkey, Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula.
© ninemsn 2016


Celebrating the golden Sasan Gir.

By Ch Saibaba | THE HANS INDIA |  Jan 02,2016 , 10:19 PM IST

In September 2015, Gir Forest National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary celebrated its 50th anniversary. The sanctuary is habitat for many rare species making it one of India’s richest regions 

The Gir Forest National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary is also known as Sasan-Gir, is a forest and wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat. It is a natural habitat for the rare species of Asiatic Lions. The sanctuary was established in 1965 and is spread over 1,412 sq km, of which about 258 sq km is fully protected the national park and other 1,154 sq km is for the sanctuary.

However, the total area of Gir is 2,200 sq km. Gir forest previously a well-known hunting ground of the Nawabs of Junagadh was declared as a “protected” area in 1900. It celebrated its Golden Jubilee in September 2015. 

The park is located 43 km north-east of Somnath, 65 km south-east of Junagadh and 60 km south-west of Amreli and is the sole home of the majestic Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica). It is also the location to find thousands of other uncommon creatures. The carnivores in the area comprise of Asiatic lions, Indian leopards,

Indian cobras, jungle cats, Indian palm civets, desert cats and rusty-spotted cats. The main herbivores are chital, nilgai, sambar, four-horned antelope, chinkara, wild boar and blackbucks. Among the smaller mammals is the rare pangolin. Snakes are found in abundance in the bushes and forests. 

About the Golden Jubilee celebrations, Dr Sandeep Kumar, Divisional Conservation Forest, Officer of Gir, said that a two-day seminar was organised in Rajkot where a special postal stamp was launched to create awareness regarding conservation of animals.

Reporting some good news he said, “Thanks to the dedicated work by forest officers, women guards, van raksha sahayaks, veterinary care and food facilities provided, according to the 14th Asiatic Lion Census conducted in the month of May, the number of lions has increased to 523 from 174 at the sanctuary’s inception.”

He further adds that they are hopeful of crossing the figure of 1,000 by 2030. There are more than 30,000 resident animals that exist in the natural habitat, which is dominated with over 25,000 deer families. 

The Gir boasts of more than 507 plant species, which includes grass and large and tall trees grown in deciduous forests that have been recorded in a recent survey. The count of distinct fauna species on the other hand has reached 2,375 and includes about 38 species of mammals, around 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and more than 2,000 species of insects.

The Gujarat State Forest Department, which adopted the Indian Crocodile Conservation Project in 1977, reported that close to 1,000 marsh crocodiles reared in the Kamaleshwar Lake and other reservoirs as well as small water bodies in and around Gir.

History of Asiatic Lion in Sasan Gir: 

A fascinating fact about the species of lion protected in Gir is that it is said to have been derived from just a dozen that survived in the 1880s. After the establishment of the sanctuary, the population was roughly at 70 to 200 by 1930.

However, despite the Gir forest being well protected, there are instances of Asiatic lions being poached and poisoned for attacking livestock. Some of the other threats to the species include floods, fires and the possibility of natural calamities. Most people feel lions look aggressive and are dangerous. However, the lions of Gir rarely attack people and are able to live in close proximity to people. 

Celebrating the 50 years of its existence, one cannot ignore the hands that have been put together to sustain the place. The ‘Trio Lion Queens’ of Gir deserve a mention – they are three women from Saurashtra. Rasilaben Wadher, Kiran Pithiya and Darshanaben Kagada, who work as foresters at Devaliya Safari Park in Sasan Gir.

The women overcame opposition from their traditional Muslim families to work as foresters.  Gir National Park and Sanctuary has been a tourist attraction for long, though it does not have a designated area for tourists to track and view their natural habitat. However, to accommodate tourist attraction, an Interpretation Zone has been created at Devalia Safari Park within the sanctuary.

Lion's Dudley Zoo return goes purr-fectly.

PUBLISHED: December 31, 2015 10:10 am
A big cat has been having a roaring time on his return to a Black Country zoo 12 years on from being born there.

zoo lions
There’s no place like home – Jetpur, right, settles back in at Dudley Zoo where he was born 12 years ago
Handsome 12-year-old male lion, Jetpur, who has been nicknamed Jet for short, returned to Dudley Zoo in October.
Section leader, Jay Haywood, said: “We are getting to know his character more and more every day and we’ve started calling him Jet for short.
“He has been getting on very well with the girls Asha and Kyra and they have been mating which is wonderful.
“Jet has really got to grips with his Dudley routine now and knows when it’s feeding time and when to come inside. He is very laid back but stubborn as well and does what he wants to do. He’s not at all the same character as his father Max, who could be quite feisty. Jet is very relaxed and is right at home here.”
And Jet was taking things easy throughout the festive season’s special events.
Jetpur was one of triplets born at the zoo to mother Gir and dad Max on July 6 2003 and moved to Mulhouse Zoo, in France, on June 16 2005.
He left to form a breeding pair with lioness Sita in France and together they have produced a total of 10 cubs as part of an international breeding programme. He has made a roaring return to the Black Country lifestyle – joining nine-year-old females Kyra and Asha.
It is now hoped that Jetpur will continue to breed.
Asiatic lions are smaller and lighter than their African counterparts and have a shaggier coat with a distinctive fold of skin that runs along the belly.
They mainly live in prides – ranging from having two adult females, with the largest having five. It comes as three enclosures at the zoo are in line for a revamp costing £200,000 to bring visitors even closer to the animals.