Thursday, June 30, 2016

Scientists at Junagadh Agricultural University find gold in urine of Gir cows

28 June, 2016
The famous Gir cows urinate gold, almost literally. After four years of extensive research, scientists of the Junagadh Agricultural University have (JAU) have found traces of gold in the urine of Gir cows.

After analyzing urine samples of 400 Gir cows at the Food Testing Laboratory of JAU, the scientists found 3 to 10 mg of gold per one litre urine. The gold found in the urine was in the form of water soluble gold salts.
The team of researchers, headed by Dr BA Golakia, head of JAU's biotechnology department, used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) method to analyze the samples of urine. Dr Golakia said, "Till now, we have heard about presence of gold in cow urine from our ancient scriptures and its medicinal properties. Since there was no detailed scientific analysis to prove this, we decided to undertake a research on cow urine. We analyzed 400 samples of Gir cow urine and found traces of gold."
According to Golakia, the gold can be extracted from the urine and solidified using chemical process. The researchers also tested urine samples of camels, buffaloes, sheep and goats but they did not find any anti-biotic elements in them.
Golakia said that of the 5,100 compounds found in Gir cow urine, 388 were found to be having immense medicinal properties that can cure many ailments. He was assisted in research by Jaimin, Rajesh Vijay and Shraddha. The team now plans to analyze urine sample of 39 other indigenous cow breeds to know whether their urine contains gold or not.
Gir cow is a specie of cattle originating from the Gir forest region of the state of Gujarat. The Gir cow is known for its milking prowess.

Gujarat's pride safe in Siddi woman's hands!

Rozina Chotiyara is the first woman of the primitive Siddi tribe to join the forest department

  • Being born and brought up in the Gir forest, lion protection was a natural career choice
  • Rozina has also set an example for her community where most people work as farm labourers or do odd jobs
Rozina Chotiyara.Rozina Chotiyara.

| TNN |
Talala (Gir-Somnath): It was 10pm and pitch dark all around. Twenty-seven-year old Rozina Chotiyara was alone in the midst of forest near Talala. Suddenly, she sensed some people moving around illegally in the area. After confirming the direction, Rozina followed them. However, one of them saw her and started running away. But they had failed to gauge her stamina. In no time, she chased and overpowered all four of them by midnight.

Don't mistake this to be some women's bravery story from a children's book. For, protecting Asiatic lions in their last abode is the daily job of Rozina, the first woman of the primitive Siddi tribe to join the forest department.

"I lost my chappals while chasing the offenders as the terrain is rough and uneven. But I caught two of them from their necks. They were fined Rs 30,000 for animal teasing," said Rozina, a native of Javantri village near Talala.

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Very good, Hats offEdwina Dsouza

A farmer's daughter, Rozina could have opted for a more comfortable job of a school teacher after completing her BA and B.Ed in 2010. But having being born and brought up in the Gir forest, lion protection was a natural career choice. "It is my passion and duty to serve Gir and its pride - the Asiatic lion," said Rozina, who is posted at Jepur beat of Ghansh round.

Rozina has also set an example for her community where most people work as farm labourers or do odd jobs. There are around 55,000 Siddis living in Junagadh district.

Illegal safari earns the lion’s share of tourists at Gir

Forest officials in collusion with locals set up illegal 'lion shows' at Gujarat's Gir sanctuary for tourists, who shell out money to get the thrill of watching the big cats from close quarters

Indian cricketer Ravindra Jadeja courted controversy when he clicked selfies with lions on a safari with his wife and friends at Gir sanctuary this week. A probe has been ordered, while two range forest officers who were in one of the photographs now face action. But, what has continued unnoticed is forest officials joining hands with locals in Gir to set up illegal 'lion shows' for tourists.

As Khushboo Gujarat Ki spreads far and wide, the number of tourists visiting Gir sanctuary has touched record highs. The 14th Asiatic Lion Census 2015, conducted in May 2015, put the lion population at 523 (up 27 per cent from the previous census in 2010). This has peaked tourist curiosity. They want to be up close with the Asiatic lion. As many as 1.5 lakh tourists have visited Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary this year. With the monsoon set to hit Gujarat and the breeding season for lions set to begin, the sanctuary has been closed from June16 for four months.

Taking advantage of the huge number of tourists, some locals who are hand-in-glove with the forest officials gather the tourists at a set location through their guides. Lion trackers then goad the big cat out of the bushes and herd them to the location where the tourists have gathered for the 'show'. So, you have lions right in front of you to click photographs and add to your collection.

On one hand, the Asiatic lion has come into conflict with humans after its territory expanded to 22,000 sq-km across eight of the nine districts in Saurashtra, while on the other, illegal lion shows have become a regular affair inside the sanctuary to lure tourists and make quick bucks.

With a proper guide, jeep and driver, it gets easier for tourists to sight lions the way they wish. Three groups of trackers assigned by the forest department keep an eye on lion movements inside the forest area. These trackers know where lions are. They inform the guides, who collect the tourist jeeps at one place. Once the tourists assemble, the tracker goes into the bushes and, by making noises and using his stick, forces the lions out. Tourists get to see the king of the jungle from close quarters and are quick to photograph them.

Current bookings are fully online, but tourists need not worry. If a tourist misses booking online, he/she can approach a local around Sinh Sadan, where permits are issued. The local will take the tourist inside the park, show the lion and charge extra for managing the show.

Mirror had a firsthand experience of the safari last week. Tourist jeeps were asked to gather at a spot, and then, one of the three forest officials went inside the forest on his bike. Soon, a lioness and her cubs were seen coming out from the same direction; they sat next to the forest road, close to the jeeps.

Local activist Bhikubhai Batawala from Khambha confirmed the activity."I am aware of this. It may not be forest guards who facilitate such activities all the time. Like fake police, there are fake forest guards as well inside the sanctuary at times," he insisted. Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) J A Khan seemed unaware of the issue. "I will check and take necessary action, if needed," Khan said.

According to environmental activist Vikram Trivedi, "It is not proper to force the lions out of the bushes with different sounds. It disturbs them and they get hostile with human beings. Not just the full-grown lions, even the cubs get hostile. Eventually human-animal conflict situations occur."

The lion is not an animal that moves from one place to another; it marks its territory. "When trackers push them from one place to other, they irritate the entire tribe," said Trivedi.

Leopard rescued from Diu, sent back to Gujarat

The big cat took the bait and fell into the trap on Saturday morning, forest officials said.

By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Published:June 19, 2016 7:21 pm
The big cat took the bait and fell into the trap on Saturday morning, forest officials said. (Source: File photo) After trailing it for around two months, forest officers of union territory Diu finally managed to rescue a leopard from Malala village on the island on Saturday and sent it back to mainland Gujarat.
The rescue teams of Diu forest department and Sasan wildlife division in Gir forest of mainland Gujarat caught the leopard by placing a trap cage in a coconut orchard in Malala village near the Diu city. The big cat took the bait and fell into the trap on Saturday morning, forest officials said.
“Indirect evidence like pug-marks suggested that the leopard used to come to Diu city at night and go back to villages during the day. Based on this, we identified its corridor and a rescue team from Sasan placed a cage in the coconut orchard in Malala. The previous night, its pugmarks were observed near the cage but it didn’t take the bait. However, the rescuers became successful on Saturday,” range forest officer (RFO) of Diu, Kailash Gakewad said on Sunday.

3 leopards rescued from water canal

Gujarat (Gir), June 17 (ANI): The forest officials rescued three leopards stuck in a water canal in a village near Gujarat’s Gir National Park. The mammals apparently wandered into the village in search of food and water. The student of a school located near the canal spotted the leopards and informed teachers. The school authorities then alerted the forest officials, who rushed to the spot with cages.

India's Lion Population On The Rise, Over 100 Lionesses Pregnant In Gujarat's Gir Sanctuary

Asiatic Lions
June 16, 2016
In a news that could bring some cheers to wildlife conservations efforts in India, over a 100 lionesses in Gujarat's Gir forest are pregnant. The Gir Sanctuary is the only home for the Asiatic lions.
As per the census conducted by the forest department in 2015, the population of lions in Gir has seen a rise. The total number of the felines in the state at 523, up from 411 lions counted in 2010. There are 106 male, 201 female and 213 sub-adult lions in the wilderness of the state.
Asiatic Lions, once plentiful in forests across India saw their numbers dwindling in the beginning of the 20th century.
Efforts to revive the species were first made in the year 1910. The Nawab of Junagadh imposed a ban on the hunting of lions within the boundaries of his province. The ban was continued even when India gained independence in 1947.

In 1960s and 1970s, Gir forest, the home of the last surviving Indian lions, was converted into a National Park and Sanctuary, which currently attracts lakhs of tourists from within and outside India.

Gujarat swallows its pride, may agree to translocate Gir lions to Kuno Sanctuary

India snares 'man-eating lion' after human tissue found

India puts Gujarat lions on trial after three people killed

  • 14 June 2016
  • From the section India
    Image copyright
    Prashant Dayal
    Image caption Gujarat's Gir forest is the world's only habitat for the Asiatic lion
Officials in India have "arrested" 18 lions as they try to find a man eater suspected of killing three people.
Forest officials in Gujarat state will test the lions' prints and excrement in an attempt to identify the killer.
The "guilty lion" will be kept in a zoo for life while the others will be released back into the Gir sanctuary, the officials told BBC Hindi.
Six attacks on humans have been reported recently near the sanctuary, the only habitat of the Asiatic lion.
Gujarat's top forest official, JA Khan, said that the lions had been "arrested" over the past two months and were now being held in separate cages while tests were carried out.
"We think we have pinpointed the guilty lion, but we are still awaiting the results of nine more animals," he said.

Image caption Innocent lions will be released back into the Gir forest
Image caption Six cases of lions attacking humans have been recently reported near the Gir forest
Wildlife expert Ruchi Dave told the BBC that the "tests" involved studying the pug marks and faecal matter of the lions.
"The officials are also studying the animals' behaviour. Man eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being," she said.
Another wildlife expert Revtubha Raizada said the man-eating lion would be caged for the rest of its life, as it was too unsafe to release it back into the wild.
Some experts feel that the thriving lion population in Gir forest is to blame for the "unusual" behaviour by the lions.
Govind Patel, the former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat, told the Indian Express newspaper that Gir could accommodate only 270 lions, forcing some prides to settle outside the boundaries of the sanctuary.
India's Supreme Court has ruled that Gujarat needed to relocate some of its lions to other states to avoid the possibility of disease or other disaster wiping out the entire population.
However the state has expressed reluctance and has not yet complied with the order.

Police 'arrest' 18 lions for fingerprinting in a bid to find out which is a man-eater who has killed three people in India Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • Mass 'arrests' were made after six people were savaged near Gir sanctuary
  • Beasts are being detained while their paw prints and excrement are tested
  • The guilty lion will be kept in a zoo for life while the others will be released 
Forest officials have 'arrested' 18 lions in a bid to find a man-eater who has killed three people in India.
The beasts are being detained while their paw prints and excrement are tested, with the guilty lion facing a life behind bars - in a zoo.
The mass 'arrests' were made after six people were savaged near Gir sanctuary in Gujarat state.
Forest officials have 'arrested' 18 lions in a bid to find a man-eater who has killed three people in India (stock image)
Forest officials have 'arrested' 18 lions in a bid to find a man-eater who has killed three people in India (stock image)
Officials believe that one dangerous lion is behind the attacks and they are holding suspects in separate cages until they find the killer.
The innocent detainees will be released back into the 545 square mile sanctuary, which is the sole home of Asiatic lions.

Gujarat's top forest official, JA Khan, said: 'We think we have pinpointed the guilty lion, but we are still awaiting the results of nine more animals.'
Speaking to the BBC, Wildlife expert Ruchi Dave said the 'tests' involved studying the pug marks and faecal matter of the lions.
The beasts are being detained while their paw prints and excrement are tested, with the guilty lion facing a life behind bars - in a zoo (stock image of a lion at Gir park)
The beasts are being detained while their paw prints and excrement are tested, with the guilty lion facing a life behind bars - in a zoo (stock image of a lion at Gir park)
'The officials are also studying the animals' behaviour. Man eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being,' she said.
Other experts fear that the attacks could be due to the thriving lion population which is expanding beyond the bounds of the sanctuary. 
Govind Patel, the former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat, told the Indian Express that Gir could accommodate only 270 lions, meaning that some are settling outside.  
The mass 'arrests' were made after six people were savaged near Gir sanctuary in Gujarat state (stock image)
The mass 'arrests' were made after six people were savaged near Gir sanctuary in Gujarat state (stock image)
Officials at the Gir reserve (pictured) conducted the mass arrests after six people were savaged nearby
Govind Patel, the former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat, told the Indian Express that Gir (park entrance pictured) could accommodate only 270 lions

Threat to Gujarat lions as ‘gun for defence’ gets political support

  • Hiral Dave, Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
  • Updated: Jun 12, 2016 07:52 IST
Three attacks by Gir’s lions on people have occurred over the last two months. Forest officials are now capturing lions from the wild and housing them at the Jasadhar Animal Care Centre.
Once considered harmless, Asiatic lions are attacking people living in the periphery of the Gir National Park – India’s only reserve for the big cats. Consequently, 18 of the beasts have been taken into captivity, and local residents have sought the government’s permission to kill them in self-defence. This is yet another instance of rising animal-human conflicts in the country, something that the Centre has tried to resolve by branding wild beasts as vermin and allowing local residents to kill them.
Taking cognisance of three such attacks that occurred over the last two months, forest officials are now capturing lions from the wild and housing them at the Jasadhar Animal Care Centre. The latest such incident at Gir occurred on June 7, when a farm labourer – Raiya Rabari – was attacked by a lion while he was sleeping at his farmhouse in Kodinar, Gir Somnath district.
Until a few months ago, lion attacks were considered a rare occurrence in this area. In fact, villagers would consider them divine, and feel honoured if the majestic beasts paid them a “visit”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described them as the “pride of Gujarat”, and even turned down a proposal to relocate the animals to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh.
All that has now changed.

Around 100 farmers from Kodiya village have submitted a memorandum to local officials, requesting that the administration capture and relocate three prides – nearly 30 lions – that have made this area their hunting grounds. They have received support from the political class, including members of the ruling BJP, who have suggested that residents be allowed to carry firearms for “emergencies”.
According to the Wildlife Protection Act, an endangered animal such as the lion can be killed only by a professional hunter – and that too after it has been declared a maneater.
On the other hand, the under-staffed forest department has been struggling to control the spread of lions. With the steady rise in the population of big cats, nearly half of the 523 lions in the Gir region live outside the 1,412 square-km sanctuary.
Wildlife experts say one of the main reasons for lions straying out of the sanctuary is shortage of prey on account of illegal mining and thinning of forest cover. “Lions attacked us while we were plucking lemons from our orchards,” said Lakha Vala, one of the 100 farmers who signed the petition.
However, Dhari range deputy forest official T Kurrpaswamy dubbed the lion attacks as “accidental” cases. “But as we don’t know which of the lions (if any) have turned maneater, we have captured 18 of them,” he said.
The forest department is yet to decide when to release them back into the wild.
Bhikha Jethva, president of Lions Nature Club, has rejected calls by those favouring the culling of lions – including local BJP leader Dileep Sanghani. “Giving guns to locals is no solution. That way lions will no longer be safe in Gujarat or anywhere else in India. Instead, the government should strengthen the grossly understaffed forest department,” he said.

Soon, no-selfie zones in Gujarat forests

Getting up close and personal with the lion is violation of the Wildlife Protection Act.Getting up close and personal with the lion is violation of the Wildlife Protection Act.

| TNN |

Ahmedabad: Even as wildlife 'lovers' flood the social media with happy selfies with Asiatic lions in Gujarat, the state forest department is not amused. Post-monsoon, boards declaring 'no selfie' zones will be put up across 20,000 sq km outside protected sanctuaries which is home to 170-odd lions of the total 525 in Saurashtra.

Experts say getting up close and personal with the lion, which is a Schedule I animal, amounts to violation of the Wildlife Protection Act. "Taking a selfie or picture close the lion is not only fraught with danger but may also attract punitive action if caught," said chief conservator of forest, Jungadh (wildlife), A P Singh.

The social media bears testimony to the growing 'selfie with the lion' trend. Gautam Parmar, a resident of Dhari has posted selfie with lions relaxing after a meal in the background. "I am a wildlife lover. On one of my trips in the wild, I encountered two lions resting after a kill. This was a rare scene and I captured it in a selfie in Ravani village in Amreli," Parmar told TOI. The youth pleaded ignorance about taking pictures of lions in close proximity being legally prohibited.

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This is a new craze among the local and is dangerous.Himanshu Kaushik

One Sagar Chudasama has posted nine pictures including selfies with lions on June 4.

It is worth recalling that in 2012 the then state law minister, Dilip Sanghani, had violated forest rules when he stepped out of his vehicle at Gir National Park and got pictures clicked with Asiatic lions. He had invited widespread criticism after he posted these pictures online.

With entire lion pride in Gir caged for first time, reports of rumblings in the jungle

gir, gir lions, gir forest, amreli, amreli lions, gujarat lions, gir man eaters, gir man eater lions, gujarat forests, gujarat news, india news A watch-tower in Dhudhala village of Jafrabad
gir, gir lions, gir forest, amreli, amreli lions, gujarat lions, gir man eaters, gir man eater lions, gujarat forests, gujarat news, india news Chaggan Akbari of Bhad, who has stopped taking out cattle after dusk.
gir, gir lions, gir forest, amreli, amreli lions, gujarat lions, gir man eaters, gir man eater lions, gujarat forests, gujarat news, india news Maniben Parmar, mother of Bhura, who was killed and eaten by a lion in 2012.
gir, gir lions, gir forest, amreli, amreli lions, gujarat lions, gir man eaters, gir man eater lions, gujarat forests, gujarat news, india news The Parmars dread the night at Ambardi, located next to Gir forest area
gir, gir lions, gir forest, amreli, amreli lions, gujarat lions, gir man eaters, gir man eater lions, gujarat forests, gujarat news, india news Fences are up in Jafrabad’s Jikadri village
gir, gir lions, gir forest, amreli, amreli lions, gujarat lions, gir man eaters, gir man eater lions, gujarat forests, gujarat news, india news Retired teacher Kanji Bagda says he now keeps his cattle locked up inside home.
gir, gir lions, gir forest, amreli, amreli lions, gujarat lions, gir man eaters, gir man eater lions, gujarat forests, gujarat news, india news A lioness with a cattle kill. Villagers talk of them coming into houses to attack

Villages around Gir have long lived with the big cat. However, while in 23 years, there have been 18 fatal lion attacks
here, six have been reported in five months of 2016 alone.
Photographs: Javed Raja

Updated: June 12, 2016 1:13 pm
As the sun pales on a sweltering summer day, sharecropper Raju Charola, 33, his wife Champa and mother Labhu quickly tuck into their dinner of potato curry, chapati and mango pickle, inches from their makeshift chullah, at a farm in Ambardi village in Dhari taluka of Amreli.
Darkness descends quickly, with the eight-hour agricultural power supply to these parts snapped at 7 pm. The water of the Shetruji river laps nearby, but the three hold their ears out for what lies just beyond — the 400-hectare dry deciduous wilderness of Ambardi reserve forest in Gir East, where lives the only population of wild lions in the world outside of Africa.
It’s Raju’s sister Nandu, 55, and husband Pancha Parmar, 60, who look after this farm. However, Raju, Champa and Labhu have abandoned their own hut in the neighbouring farm and moved here for the past few days, since teenager Jayraj Makwana was mauled to death by allegedly a pride of Asiatic lions, a few fields away.
Over the last 23 years, there have been 18 instances of lions killing humans in Gir and its adjoining areas. This year, six incidents have been reported in the first five months alone: three in Gir East, and one each in Rajkot, Junagadh and Gir West divisions.
The attacks in Gir East have occurred in the Ambardi-Bharad group panchayat area. All the three victims were labourers. While Jayraj (14) was killed on May 20, Labhu Solanki (60) was attacked on April 10. The death of Zeena Makwana (54), killed in Ambardi on March 19, has worried experts, as reports indicate he had been eaten by the lions, which is extremely rare.
Following the incidents, for the first time in Gir’s history, a pride of lions, including 13 members, was caged. A number of labourers have fled the farms surrounding Gir. Former state agriculture minister and senior BJP leader Dilip Sanghani, a native of Amreli, has written to the state forest minister demanding that farmers be allowed to shoot lions and leopards in self-defence.


The Gir protected area, consisting of Gir National Park and Sanctuary, Paniya Wildlife Sanctury and Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary, is spread over 1,412 sq km. As per the 2015 census, it has 523 lions. But a number of them now live outside the protected area.
While the Forest Department has been preparing the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary in Porbandar district, west of the Gir forest, as a possible second habitat for lions for years, the growing carnivore population has moved east to Amerli and Bhavnagar districts. Forest officers estimate that lions now roam an area of 22,000 sq km.
In fact, the discovery in 2001, during the five-yearly census, that a few of them had settled permanently in Paniya area of Amreli had been a cause of much elation. The development marked a paradigm shift, indicating that the lions had set out to recapture lost territory after once being reduced to a few dozen prides in ravines deep inside the Gir forest.
Now this spectacular comeback is posing new questions, including for people of the area, such as Raju and family.
Since the 2001 census, the lion population in Amreli has increased leaps and bounds, to 174 by 2015, with lions being sighted in five of its 11 talukas. For the territorial animals, forest officers say, Amreli’s hillocks and the plains of the rivers Shetrunji and Dhatarwadi, covered with thickets, offer a good habitat. Apart from a source of water in the summer, the rivers also draw nilgais (blue bulls) and spotted deer — a natural prey for the lions.
In the 2015 census, only Junagadh had better lion numbers, at 203, of all the four districts where the big cats have settled: Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar.
Besides, of the 174 lions counted in Amreli, 45, or a little over 25 per cent, were found to be living in revenue areas — agricultural fields, villages and other areas of human habitation and activity. Again, only in Junagadh, do more lions (58) roam in revenue areas than in Amreli.
Across the four districts now, the rising number of lions and their appearance in villages is a common story.
After the 2015 census revealed that 167 of the total 523 lions were living in revenue areas, the state government had formed a task-force for a management plan. The task-force has submitted its report, but its recommendations, including for a unified forest area, say sources, remain under “consideration”.


Raju’s fear notwithstanding, his brother-in-law Pancha points out that living next door to the big cats had never bothered the villagers, till now. “Lions are very sensible animals. They always respect our warning calls while they are on our fields. They would never attack a human being. I believe they must have been very hungry when they killed that boy (Jayraj),” says Pancha, who is illiterate.
The two-hectare farm he has been cultivating in Ambardi village for the past five years with wife Nandu is owned by Shantibhai Dobariya. Only two unfarmed fields, now run over by bushes, separate Dobariya’s farm from the reserved forest.
Ambardi has a population of around 1,800, a majority of them farmers. The Shetrunji river ensures rich harvest and almost every other landlord in the village engages labourers. It is these labourers who have fallen victim to lions.
Pancha’s native village Vekariyapara nearby is also part of lion territory. He talks of how, while other farmers complain of nilgais and wild boars destroying their cotton and groundnut crops, he has never faced such a problem due to his feline neighbours. “As the big cats do their rounds here, no other animal dares step in. One can grow as much crop as one wants,” he smiles.
Pancha, however, says all this comes with proper precautions. “If a lion enters my wheat field at night, I cannot irrigate the crop. So we switch off the motor-pump and go to sleep. Even if the next morning the landlord scolds us,” he says.
“Lions started visiting our village 15 years ago. Since then, farmers have stopped working on their farm at night unless unavoidable,” says Ramku Varu, sarpanch of Dholadri village in Jafrabad taluka, around 50 km away.
Bhawan Gohil of Jikadri village in the same taluka, who has 125 goats and sheep, says he is reconciled to losing three-four of his animals to “savaj (lions)” every year. “They even jump into the verandah and raid my herd in our presence,” Gohil says. According to Gohil, even taking his herd for grazing has been getting more difficult.
“But I have no complaints. Lions take their share as alert as I may remain,” he says with a mild smile.
There are 54 colonies of maldharis or cattle herders, traditional forest dwellers, inside the Gir forest.
The Forest Department gives Rs 1,000 as compensation for a goat or sheep killed by a wild animal, Rs 10,000 for a killed bullock and cow and up to Rs 20,000 for a buffalo.


Still, the recent incidents have shaken this equanimity, particularly reports of lions eating humans. The three deaths in Gir East followed a similar pattern — lions attacked people sleeping out in the open and in the wee hours of the day.
Ambardi village sarpanch Najabhai Javandhra admits things have changed. The population of lions has seen a “huge jump over the past five years”, he says. “Labourers are fleeing.”
Pancha’s own sons have survived attacks by the wild cats but no one has heard of lions eating people before. Pancha’s teenage son Ghugha, who is idling on quilts heaped in a corner, was attacked by a lioness last monsoon on the same farm where they are currently working, but escaped with minor claw marks as the family dogs raised an alarm. Pancha’s elder son Magan was attacked by a leopard a few years ago.
Raju, who also grew up next to Gir in village Dalkhaniya, says he had no choice but to move in with his sister. “The lions come near our farm to drink water. We spend nights at my sister’s place and work on our farm during the day,” he says.
Gohil’s grandfather Devshi talks about the old times when he would leave his herd without an enclosure. “They would rest in the open, even at night. But now despite creating enclosures, lions are killing our animals. The only option now is to keep our goats inside our living rooms.”
Vipul Bagda, a 30-year-old lion attack survivor from Nava Agariya village in Rajula taluka, is now too scared to cross the border of his small farm, on the banks of the Nahyo rivulet. He, his cousin Dipak Babariya and three others were chased by a lioness when they got too close to her cubs in March 2014. His cousin was killed, while another of his friends was injured. “I managed to climb up a neem tree. I was rescued after three hours,” he recalls. This lioness and her two cubs were caged after two-week-long efforts.
In Dholadri village last year, a pride of lions raided and killed seven stray cows in one go. The village had also reported a lion attack, and the eating of a body, back in 2012. Bhura Parmar, a diamond-polisher based in Surat, had been home due to a slump in the industry when he was killed.
Residents of Bhad, a village on the border of the Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary, around 50 km from Amreli, have raised compound walls around their homes now, which are 10 feet or higher.
“Over the last five years, lion movement has increased greatly. I used to take my cows and bullocks for grazing at 4 am. But now, it’s too risky to venture out before daybreak,” says Chhagan Akbari, a farmer.
However, the 65-year-old, adds, “Lions become violent only if harassed. I don’t bother them ever and they silently cross my field.”
Pancha, a lion veteran of as many years, also tries vouching for the animal again, saying lions generally leave if chased away with shouts and thumping of sticks. However, he is shouted down by his own family. Says wife Nandu, “The sight of the lions at night leaves me petrified. I am as jumpy as my goats inside the cottage.”
Raju wishes for something more substantial, like an axe, for protection. “But forest guards would suspect we are going to cut trees.”


Govind Patel, the former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat and former member of the National Board for Wildlife, says the problem is an “acid test” for the state. “Gujarat has never faced such a situation when lions have killed people and allegedly eaten them. Lions and maldharis have lived together inside Gir for centuries,” he says.
What has clearly changed is the growing lion population. As Patel says, “A lion pride requires, on an average, 40-50 sq km of area as its territory. Gir can accommodate only 270 lions. Therefore, new prides have made their homes outside the protected forest. We had floated the idea of developing the region as a Greater Gir Area.”
The Gujarat government has steadfastly opposed proposals to translocate the animals, despite a Supreme Court ruling against the state. The idea was first mooted when the lions existed in a sub-population in Gir and wildlife experts feared that any disease or natural calamity could wipe out the entire species.
In 2013, the apex court gave Gujarat six months to begin the process to transfer lions to the Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh. A committee was formed by the Centre, and the matter is still at the “planning stage”.
Early this year, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said that the translocation would take about 25 years as lions would have to be moved in phases.
In another statement, in the Rajya Sabha last month, Javadekar said Gir had seen 91 lion deaths in 2015, compared to the average of 75 the previous two years. He said both natural and unnatural reasons had seen a rise, and that one of the reasons of the unnatural deaths was lions “falling in open wells in revenue areas”.
Gujarat is now constructing parapet walls around open wells, the minister said, as well as fencing accident-prone railway track stretches in Amreli.
Jamal Khan, Gujarat’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), warns against any quick conclusions for the lion attacks. Pointing out that Amreli has seen more deaths compared to Junagadh, which has a larger lion population in the revenue areas, he says, “The spurt as well as lions eating humans are very unusual. But there can be multiple reasons. One can be low availability of food, another could be the weather (the hot temperatures making lions irritable). Also, the incidents in Dhari (Amreli) have happened on the border of the forest. Lions are new to the area. Similarly, these animals are new for people too. So each feels the other is encroaching on their territory. There is no problem in Junagadh because lions have been there for centuries.”
Forest officers also note that those who have been attacked were labourers sleeping in the open, on the ground.
While acknowledging the “growing population of lions”, Aniruddh Pratap Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh wildlife circle, says, “A human being sleeping on the ground and wrapped in a quilt or shawl is confusing for the lions. At night, lions see almost every object as black. Many labourers come from areas which are not lion territories and therefore don’t understand lion behaviour. But those from the lion range also seem to be careless and negligent. We have written to village panchayats scores of times, held meetings with villagers and announced over loudspeakers that people must take basic precautions like not sleep in the open and on the ground etc, but still this keeps happening.”
Apart from loudspeakers mounted on vans informing villagers of the do’s and don’ts of living in lion territory, the Gir West division has distributed pamphlets among locals educating them about lion behaviour and the precautions to take. But with electricity cut in most areas at night and temperatures high, sleeping in the open remains attractive.
Forest officers also say the smell of non-vegetarian food draws the big cats, including leopards, to human habitations.
Other officers blame provocation by humans. “Unless harassed, lions never attack humans. All the incidents have taken place at night, so, we don’t know the circumstances. The heat could also have a role. In such a state, even minimal provocation can be costly,” says T Karuppasamy, Deputy Conservator of Forests of Gir East.
Hridaya Narayan Singh, a retired social researcher of Jawaharlal Nehru University who was one of the first people to study co-existence between maldharis and lions, also says human role shouldn’t be ruled out. “Lions by nature are neither maneaters nor do they prefer cattle normally. The fact that maldharis have been living with lions inside Gir for centuries proves this. The attacks could be due to some disturbance or human interference,” he says.
Ambardi sarpanch Javandhra blames “outsiders” who come to Ambardi to see lions — or what the locals have dubbed “lion shows”. “Because of the Shetrunji river, it is easy to locate lions. However, some of them harass the lions by chasing them with cars or ramming their vehicles into animals. While the outsiders leave, the agitated lions attack locals afterwards,” Javandhra says.
There have been instances of visitors throwing stones at lions or trying to get too close to them. Some try to click selfies.


In case of the recent killings, the first lion was caged days after it had killed Makwana, and sent to a rehabilitation centre in Sasan after excreta analysis confirmed it had eaten the man. A lioness was caged after Labhu Solanki’s death too but she has been since then let out in the wild as her stool samples did not contain any trace of human flesh.
Then, after Jayraj’s death, 16 lions, 13 of them from a single pride, were removed from Ambardi and caged at the Jasadhar animal care centre near Una in Gir Somnath district. Forest officers await laboratory results to determine if they had eaten the boy.
Ravi Chellam, a wildlife biologist and conservation scientist who is a member of the expert committee set up by the Centre to oversee the translocation of Asiatic lions, hopes the current panic doesn’t lead to any drastic steps. “Indians tolerate wildlife and celebrate nature. So you cannot take the strict position that lions and tigers should exist only within protected areas. That will be disastrous. There are bound to be problems, but you need to put them in context. The number of people knocked down by cars in a city is far more than the number going to be killed by lions in a year. That doesn’t stop us from stepping onto a road,” he says.
Bhushan Pandya, a member of the state board for wildlife who has documented the Gir forest and its wildlife for decades, also cautions that the “circumstances” of the lion deaths should be looked into first. “These are stray incidents and don’t point to any change in the behaviour of lions. Lions don’t become man-eaters by such incidents,” he says. Advising the Forest Department to not let the incidents pass without properly investigating the causes, he adds, “Just imagine if the lions develop a liking for human blood. It will be a nightmare.”
Noting that people have largely cared for and accepted animals in Amreli, Aniruddh Pratap Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh, says, “We are ready to help build sheds or tents so that labourers don’t have to sleep in the open.”
Govind Patel advises the Forest Department to also notify new lion corridors and deploy more manpower in Amreli, as well as minimise the man-animal conflict through public awareness.
However, he voices what many of them fear. “Whether people will accept the presence of lions now that they have started attacking humans is a big question.”


Over at Ambardi village, it is 8.30 pm, and Raju and family close the iron gates of their pucca cottage, locking in their dozen goats, a buffalo and Pancha’s dogs Kalo and Jado, while spreading their rugged quilts on the ground in the open.
They have no cots, Raju says, as he prepares for a nervous night in the open. Apart from them, the only ones out in the darkare the family’s seven chicken, huddled under a tarpaulin-covered structure.
A couple of such nights later, the entire family of six moves out.

Tripura captive breeding at zoo fetches three lion cubs

TNN | Agartala: The Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary of Tripura created history two days ago. For the first time in 30 years, the park, which was later transformed into a sanctuary, welcomed three lion cubs and 10 baby pythons in one day.

Sanctuary officials said Sepahijala had a 22-year-old lion. In July last year, the zoo authorities brought one male and one female lion from Bannerghatta National Park of Karnataka under an animal exchange programme conducted by the Central Zoo Authority.

The lioness gave birth to triplets on June 9 in the zoo hospital. The cubs and their mother were reported to be fit and healthy, said chief wildlife warden AK Gupta. He added that the population of lions has gone up to six in the sanctuary now.

Sanctuary authorities also found a python had given birth to 10 snakelets. He added, "Normally, pythons hatch after 90 days, but in this case the snakes were out in 45 days and found to be healthy."

Tripura forest minister Naresh Jamatia said Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary had brought four pairs of animals, including lions, sambars, black bucks and porcupines, under the animal exchange programme of Central Zoo Authority last year from Bannerghatta.

Tripura sent three Phayre's leaf monkeys, popularly called spectacled monkey (one male, two females), three pig-tailed macaques (one male, two females) and two Himalayan bears to Bannerghatta Park in exchange.

He expressed concern over the future of Asiatic lions, whose surviving population is confined to Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat, and authorities are not willing to exchange the species.

Why save cows, but butcher the national bird?

Shooting the wild is like shooting part of our heritage.
Kamal Mitra Chenoy
India is a densely populated country. Since the last century, environmentalists have been very critical of the clearing of forests, and driving animals into populated areas.
Some animals were protected in Haryana because of their names: like the Nilgai, with the gai erroneously believed to certify that it was from the cow family.
Now the Bihar government has hired hunters or any any rate people with sophisticated weapons to shot or euphemistically "cull" the Nilgai because they are destroying crops.
The Gir forest has become too small for the increasing lion population.
In other states, the wild boar is targeted as a "pest" and so it is open season on the wild boar if found in the vicinity of a farm.
But will forest rangers state that the boar was not a threat, given the strength of the farmers' lobby?
Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, the farmers want monkeys killed.
In Goa, after declaring the coconut tree as a non-tree so it could be cut down by real estate developers to clear land for construction, the government has now moved to demand the killing of the peacock, India's national bird.
Interestingly, the BJP government there has no qualms about beef eating, which is unrestricted there, but "culling" the beautiful peacocks, the national bird, is fine.
Things are getting worse. For years, environmentalists and wildlife lovers have warned that the Gir forest, the only sanctuary for the Asiatic lion in India, has become too small for the increasing lion population.
The only rational answer is to move the excess lions into another sanctuary. No, said the Gujarat government, the Gir forest sanctuary is ours and we will allow no lion to be taken away.
In the meantime, over the last few years, there have been incidents of lions straying out of the fringes of the forest, or conversely farmers collecting fallen branches, coming into the forest range, which has reportedly led to injuries and alarms.
In Uttarakhand and other areas, leopards running out of forest cover are attacking children, dogs and livestock for food. This has been going on for decades. Shooting the animals is like shooting part of our heritage.
There are other ways of controlling the growth rate of animals. Sterilisation of many breeds and species can be done at relatively less cost. But forest cover must be protected at all costs. At the moment, maps showing sharply declining forest and green cover are becoming increasingly worrisome.
This has an impact on the weather, and the survival of endangered species like the rhinoceros, the golden langur, the lion, the tiger and the leopard, among others.
Wildlife and the forests have been nature's gift to us. We should remember that the cheetah was exterminated by wanton hunting, the taming of it outside the forest where it would not breed, and lack of urgency by the government of the day.
But another important reason was the shooting of black buck, which was the cheetahs' prey, including some decades ago by Bollywood film stars.
Consequently, game resorts like the Jim Corbett national park, now have relatively fewer tigers to show than some decades ago.
The Sariska sanctuary is a pale shadow of itself infiltrated by mining. Yet what do we do about the increasing demand for more land by farmers and rich farmer-politicians?
There must be a relook at wildlife protection and environmental laws. Our precious animals don't have rich and powerful politicians to plead their case. Land hunger is insatiable.
But what happened to the ideas of cooperative farming, of agricultural cooperatives, which would enable more production in lesser space?
At this rate, we will exterminate even more endangered species, because of lack of innovation in farming techniques.
In the political rhetoric that dominates the environmental and forest species debate, not enough sane voices are heard.
Minister Maneka Gandhi had spoken out against the "culling" of animals, but ministers of the BJP were not impressed.
So shall we protect only the cow, and let the nilgai, the tigers, lions, rhinos, leopards, langurs, monkeys and other animals be wiped out in the name of the farmers' interests, and lose our forest cover and ancient, endangered species forever?
That would be a terrible and unforgivable tragedy.

Gir lions gifted to Etawah Wildlife Lion Safari Park die; Mulayam's dream project could be in question in next year’s elections

63 photos and 8 things to tell you about sleeping overnight in Gir Lion Lodge at London Zoo's Land of the Lions exhibit

/ Simon Bull, web editor
Do you know you can take a safari holiday armed with nothing more than an Oyster card and overnight bag?
Yes, without going outside the M25 or remembering your passport, you really can travel to India for an exotic adventure among majestic wild animals.
The possibility first emerged a year ago when London Zoo announced plans for overnight accommodation in its Land of the Lions exhibit that was being built.
The new big cats enclosure opened earlier this year, followed last month by the Gir Lion Lodge that allows guests to spend a night sleeping a whisker away from the zoo's four lions and in close proximity to a flamboyance of flamingos.
I've been roaring to go on the experience since it was revealed so I was thrilled when my family and I got the chance to say that in the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lions sleep tonight ... like, maybe 100 yards from us. A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh.
Above are 63 photos you can flick through to see what the lion lodge is like and the other sights you can enjoy on a visit.
And below are eight highlights from a unique mini staycation that proved to be every bit as surreal and special as I had hoped.
Land of the Lions
To set the scene a little, the 2,500sqm exhibit is home to the awesome foursome of Asiatic lion Bhanu and lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi.
The cats are native to the Gir Forest in western India, and their enclosure is inspired by Sasan Gir, a village in that region where people and lions live as neighbours.
There is lots of authenticity in the landscape, including a temple clearing, well, railway station, guard hut and high street with its mock shops. And there are lots of other little touches, such as rickshaws, sacks of spices and even a sacred cow.
Located deep within is the lodge, a cluster of nine colourful cabins, each named after and decorated around the theme of an animal from the Gir Forest. We stayed in Flamingo Lodge.
Those lions …
Unfortunately, the male lion wasn't anywhere to be seen while we were there, but all three lionesses were on view at least once.
After we checked in around 5pm to have some welcome drinks with our guides and 20-or-so fellow guests, we got our first look around the enclosure – at this time the girls were keeping their distance.
But when we returned later at about 9.30pm they came much closer, with just the width of the glass separating us. Standing in a hushed enclosure as these beautiful creatures prowled past in the near dark was a special moment – probably the highlight of the whole trip.
There's other animals too
The lions are the main focus of the stay but we got to see many other inhabitants during three tours of the zoo, two that took place after-hours in the evening and one the following morning before it opened.
As well as helping out behind the scenes with enrichment and feeding with the pygmy hippos and warthogs, we also got to see some of the nocturnal animals like the aardvarks who don't show their faces much during daytime.
Tea on the veranda
The weather wasn't great when we were there but it was still a warm enough night to be able to enjoy a cuppa on our private balcony when we got back to our cabin at about 10pm.
Sat in this oasis of peace and quiet, with just the breeze and a bit of chatter from those flamingos breaking the silence, it was easy to forget for a while that we were still sat in the heart of London. India or Africa it wasn’t, but it was still blissful.
Our own zoo
It's hard not to feel privileged walking around an almost deserted zoo enjoying sights and sounds usually off-limits to visitors.
The overnight experience finished around 10am and we took advantage of the chance to remain in the zoo for the day – but our feeling of privilege was replaced by a sense of resentment towards the crowds of other people who were now in 'our zoo'!
Luxury might be a bit of a stretch but the accommodation is certainly plenty comfortable enough for the limited time anyone will spend in it. Like a small hotel room, our compact living space included a double bed for my wife and I along with a sofa bed for our daughter. Obviously tea and coffee were available, hence those drinks on the balcony. And there were en-suite bathroom facilities, with toiletries and towels provided.
I may have felt very cosy in bed but it still took a while to drift off to sleep – I kept remembering that not only was I in a zoo but double bizarrely I was technically within a lions' den – I never once felt unsafe but it was still a strange night!
Good eating
We weren't expecting much from the food at the zoo but we were impressed – and we ate very well. Evening dinner was a two-course buffet offering tasty lamb and chicken dishes with a surprisingly nice grilled squash vegetarian option. Breakfast had several choices including a full English to set us up nicely for the day of animal watching ahead.
Other people
The overnight stay is best for sociable people as you spend most of the time hanging out with the other guests. Not a problem for us as we were with a nice group of families.
Zoo staff could not have been better – our four guides, two in the evening in the two in the morning, along with our overnight host, were all helpful and friendly. It was very interesting hearing them speak about the different animals and life in the zoo.
A nice security guard was on patrol at the gate to the lion lodge – as much to stop people escaping into the zoo during the night as anything else. We always felt everything was run very professionally and safely.
Overall verdict
London Zoo firmly remains one of my favourite five places to visit in the capital, and the chance to stay there overnight so close to the lions just adds to the attraction.

VIDEO: Buffalo Charges After Lioness In Gujarat's Gir Forest National Park

A Roar For The Beyond

13 June 2016 Society Gir Forest

The man-eater menace is new to Gir—a sign that some lions must be relocated
On The Road
Lions are a common sight on the roads near Gir
Lions turning man-eaters is not exactly your exclusive breaking news story. It’s the law of the jungle, after all, and operates in Gir as much as in other places. But other factors contribute equally, and in the Gir forests of Gujarat, home to the Asiatic lion, experts say, one of them is the refusal of Gujarat—home state of the prime minister—to relocate some of the lions to other national parks.
The lions in Gir are the only surviving population of the Asiatic lion. Over the years, this population has grown to 543. But there is a problem. At 1,412 sq km, the Gir National Park (GNP), which is their protected habitat, is too small for this population and supports too small a prey base for the predators. Experts residing in the area estimate that nearly half the lions in Gir now live outside the protected area, coming into conflict with human habitations or itinerants such as pilgrims to the temples in the forested region or passing traffic. Sighting a pride of lions crossing a highway or walking along a road not far from a village or town in the evening is no longer unusual. On hot days, lions are also seen resting near the shaded nesses (or maldhari hamlets). For long, there were hardly any cases of maneating reported.
But now, the local community is alarmed. In just three years, 162 attacks on humans have been reported around Gir. In March this year, Zeena Makwana, a 51-year-old farm labourer who was asleep in a field in Ambardi village in the Dhari tal­uka of Amreli district, was dragged away by lions in the middle of the night. Those who were with him in the field that night later found one of his limbs lying a little away from the field. In April, three lions attacked a family, killing a woman. And in June, lions attacked and killed a youth.
A certain degree of man-animal conflict has been accepted for ages by the maldharis, or cattle-rearers, who live in the Gir. The staple diet of lions here has been cows and buffaloes belonging to the maldhari groups. They’ve had no quarrel with this either, and consider the lions a divine presence. But after the spate of zattacks, the people of Amreli, near which the incident took place, are dem­anding that the forest department initiate action against maneating lions.

The problem of plenty has made the rel­ocation of lions necessary—and urgent. But as chief minister of Gujarat for many years, Modi opposed and scuttled any move to relocate the lions, linking them to Gujarati pride. Indeed, the lion is also the symbol of his pet ‘Make in India’ project. Last year, Gujarat lost an eight-year legal battle to shift lions to the Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. In fact, a proposal to move the lions to Kuno is ten years old, and it’s been as many years since 24 villages of the Sahariya tribespeople were relocated to create a habitat for lions. The BJP government of Madhya Pradesh had sent a proposal to the Union environment and forests ministry seeking Rs 79 crore in budgetary allocation to shift lions from Gir to Kuno. But it has been ignored.
The effects might soon begin to be felt in places like Aankol Vadi, a hilltop ness housing the extended family of Kanhabhai Appabhai Gadhvi, undisputed leader of the maldharis, along with the livestock they rear, inside the core area of the GNP. Though the area is supposed to be legally free of human presence, there are 54 such nesses. The family has lived here for generations in low, mud-walled huts and keeps some 200 buffaloes. Gadhvi’s son Vijay says they lose livestock worth Rs 3-4 lakh yearly and for generations they have taken it for granted, thinking of it as making an offering to the gods, with the lions symbolising vitality and res­ilience. He says predators and humans have for long lived in perfect harmony, and his family has even given names to some of the lions living in the vicinity of the ness. “Lions need our presence. They are dependent on us (maldharis),” says Vijay. “We ens­ure there is easy food available for these lazy predators.” But some maldharis are now getting worried that the lion population is increasing and with the forest shrinking, there might be problems.
Kaushik Banerjee, a lion expert and fellow with the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, who has carried out extensive field work for eight years in the Gir forests, believes the cosy relationship Vijay speaks of is bound to end— sooner if not later. “If the ecology of the forest is to be conserved, the maldharis living inside the core area will have to be moved out,” he says. He’s also in favour of relocating some of the lions in order to expand the genetic pool. It’s an idea the maldharis might appreciate, given their emp­irical understanding, as cattle-breeders, of hybrid vigour and enfeeblement through inbreeding.
While conservationists are worried, they don’t want to come out in open disagreement with the government opposition to relocation. Valmik Thapar, environmentalist and author, describes them as the ‘khichdi lion’—a mix of North American and so-called Asiatic lion. The Indian lion was known for its tameness, docility and inability to behave as a predator in the wild, he says. Now that they are starting to attack the humans they have interacted with for so long, a tipping point could have been reached.
Growing Pride
  • 287 (1936)
  • 219-227 (1950)
  • 290 (1955)
  • 285 (1963)
  • 177 (1968)
  • 180 (1974)
  • 205 (1979)
  • 239 (1985)
  • 284 (1990)
  • 304 (1995)
  • 327 (2001)
  • 359 (2005)
  • 411 (2010)
  • 523 (2015)
The lion population of Gir
AUTHORS: Mihir Srivastava
PLACES: Gujarat
SECTION: Society
OUTLOOK: 13 June, 2016

Even a havan and a British doc have failed to save Etawah's lions

Atul Chandra | First published: 3 June 2016, 23:58 IS

Former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's dream project, the lion safari in Etawah, suffered another setback when yet another big cat Kuber died on Thursday morning.
Kuber, whose condition deteriorated on Wednesday, became the ninth Asiatic lion at the safari to fall victim to the fatal canine distemper disease despite the government and the wildlife officials' best efforts to save them from the disease.

Canine distemper is said to be caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the family paramyxovirus. Viruses that cause measles, mumps and bronchiolitis in humans belong to the same family. Since it is a major disease among dogs, the safari area was recently barricaded to prevent dogs from venturing into the area.
With 9 lions dead, there are now only seven left at the safari. Of these, 4 are lionesses - Heer Kunwari, Jessica and Girishma. The 3 remaining lions are Pataudi, Manan and Gigo.
Confirming the latest death, Etawah lion safari's director Sanjay Srivastava said that the carcass had been sent to IVRI, Bareilly, for post-mortem examination.

Confirming the latest death, Etawah lion safari's director Sanjay Srivastava said that the carcass had been sent to IVRI, Bareilly, for post-mortem examination.
He said all precautionary measures were being taken to protect the remaining lions from the fatal disease.
A press note issued by the safari director late in the evening said, "With deep regret it is being informed that lion Kuber of Etawah safari park died this morning at 08.10. The above lion had been ailing from 16 April and was being treated under the guidance of experts from IVRI, Bareilly, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay University and Cow Research Institution, Mathura after intensive tests. Experts at IVRI, Bareilly, had diagnosed that Kuber was infected with canine distemper virus and was being treated as per their advice. But despite the best efforts of the experienced veterinarians the lion died this morning. To prevent the infection from spreading to other lions, the carcass has been sent to IVRI for post-mortem."

State govt's response

With lions at the safari dying one after another, questions are being raised on the state government's insistence on continuing with the project.
When Mulayam Singh Yadav first thought of a lion safari in his backyard, the project was estimated to cost the exchequer Rs 5 crore. This was in 2005. The work on the project began only in 2013 and by 2015 it had cost the government Rs 53 crore. Besides, there is a corpus of Rs 100 crore for the maintenance of the safari, which was being planned as a lion breeding centre.

Walk in the woods

Published: 03rd June 2016 06:34 AM
Last Updated: 03rd June 2016 07:51 PM
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While wildlife conservation is reason enough to get familiar with jungle facts (we boast a forest cover of over seven lakh square kilometres, according to the 2015 Indian State of Forest Report), here’s another: ‘forest bathing’ or soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a forest is said to help lower stress and improve memory! Now with World Environment Day being themed on ‘zero tolerance for illegal wildlife trade’, why not head to a natural reserve and support an endangered animal, while amping up on some forest Zen?
Indian Rhinoceros, Kaziranga
Indian rhinos—with their greyish-brown skin and black horn—were once found all over Northern India and  are now confined to the Brahmaputra region. Kaziranga in Assam is home to a significant two-thirds of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros. But with just 2,000 rhinos surviving in India, that’s not much to boast about. While there, donate to the Indian Rhino Vision 2020, an initiative by Save The Rhino organisation. In partnership with the Assam Forest Department and others, they are trying to increase the wild population through anti-poaching and community awareness (details:
Other highlights: Also declared a tiger reserve in 2006, see if you can spot the striped cat. Where to stay: At the IORA-The Retreat, a four-star resort, enjoy elephant-back safaris and jeep rides starting at Rs 250 per head. Stay from Rs 5,000 (details: 9957193550). Must buy: Pick up souvenirs, as a percentage of the money is given to the forest department. We suggest wooden rhinos crafted by the tribals. Rs 300 onwards.
Red Pandas, Arunachal
Trekking through the rain forests of Arunachal Pradesh, you might catch a fleeting glimpse of red if you are lucky. With just 300 red pandas in the wild—rampant deforestation dwindled their numbers—they can be spotted feeding in the bamboo groves. A great way to see them is to walk through the thick green forests of the Namdapha National Park, but get a permit from the MiaoNamdapha office. You can also adopt a panda (from Rs 3,360 onwards) by registering with the Red Panda Network. An adoption will get you a personalised adoption certificate and a gift package, including T-shirts, bracelets and more. Details:
Other highlights: The forest also boasts four big cats—the leopard, tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard. Where to stay: Padmini Resort, in Miao (the nearest village), has cottages starting from Rs 4,000, with facilities like a pool, gym, bar and restaurant (details: 09435528173). Must buy: In Miao, pick up handloom products featuring the red panda and the big cats. Rs 450 onwards.
Asiatic Lions, Gir
Poaching and hunting got the Asiatic lion a place on the endangered species list in 2000. The Gir forest in Gujarat has 523 of these tawny beasts (according to the 2015 census) walking the dry scrub and sheltering under the deciduous trees. Besides taking open jeep safari rides, you can also donate to The Shaktisinh Visana Memorial Gir Forest Association. The money will go towards the development of the park and insuring better anti-poaching measures. Details:
Other highlights: Look out for the rare Pygmy Woodpecker and Brown Fish Owl. Where to stay: The Gateway Hotel Gir Forest is a scenic getaway, with rooms from Rs 7,000 (details: 265 6617676). Must buy: The local Sidi women make jute bags that they sell outside the park. From Rs 10 onwards.
Lion-tailed Macaque, Periyar
Once found in abundance in the Western Ghats, now there are less than 2,000 in the wild. Mostly hunted for their meat, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala is one of the few places where you can see this simian, swinging from the deciduous trees. The Periyar Foundation organises eco-tourism activities (on the 28th of every month), where visitors can participate in cleaning the park and spreading awareness about the endangered species. Details:
Other highlights: Don’t miss outdoor activities like bamboo rafting and tiger trails, organised by the eco tourism department. From Rs 1,500 (details: 91486922457).Where to stay: Periyar House offers a scenic vantage point of the tiger reserve. Rs 2,353 onwards (details: 4869 222026). Must buy: Pick up tees and postcards at Café Periyarensis, run by Periyar Wildlife Staff Co-op Society. From Rs 250.
Black Bear, Jim Corbett National Park
The black bear has been brought to the brink of extinction, thanks to its gall bladder. The organ, along with the bile, are used in traditional medicine. With less than 3,276 in the wild, they are mostly confined to the hilly terrains of the Jim Corbett National Park in Gujarat. Spot them from a seat on an elephant or jeep safari (Rs 4,200 onwards). While there, donate to the Corbett Foundation (Rs 250 onwards), which works for wildlife conservation and development (details:, 05947284156).
Other highlights: Try rope climbing and nature walks organised by the park authorities, for Rs 200 per activity (details: 9719251997). Where to stay: Dhikala Forest Lodge, situated within the park, offers room and tour package combos. From Rs 3,000 onwards (details:8826678883). Must buy: Pick handcrafted mugs resembling bears.
What to wear
Choose items that cover the arms and legs, and are not in pop colours (blend in with your environment). Pick up Base Layer (that wicks moisture, Rs 899 onwards), Novadry jackets (waterproof, Rs 3,999), Forclaz hiking trousers (lightweight, quick-dry fabric, Rs 1,899) and Forclaz-500 ankle-length waterproof shoes (Rs 3,999 onwards) from Decathlon.
Details: 8884156900
— Payal Gangishetty  & Regina Gurung