Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Lioness attacks man in Savarkundla town

(Representative Image)(Representative Image)
RAJKOT: The man-lion conflict that was limited to villages on the fringe of Gir sanctuary area has now come to haunt Savarkundla town in Amreli district close to the protected forests, the abode of the endangered Asiatic lion. A 60-year-old shepherd, Madha Vaghela, was attacked by a lioness near Devla gate on Chalala Road on the outskirts of Savarkundla town on Saturday.

Vaghela was attacked by the lioness, accompanied by two sub-adult cubs, when he was walking with his herd of sheep. Forest officials said that Vaghela could never have imagined that he would become victim of lion attack as the area where the incident took place is surrounded by diamond polishing units and farm land which fall under the Savarkundla Municipality limits.

On August 1, a lion had preyed upon a cow in Khodiyar Park society of the town. This second incident of lion attack within the limits of Savakundla town has raised concerns among locals, especially those residing in the fringe areas of the town.

Forest department sources said that around 10 lions have been spotted recently in the periphery of Savarkundla.

Top Comment

Pay attention sir ( Minister of Forest and environment)Rajiv Gandhi

Locals had spotted the lioness with her two cubs fleeing after attacking Vaghela. He was rushed to the civil hospital where his condition was said to be critical.

In July, a pride of three lionesses and cubs had ventured nearly 3.5 km inside Junagadh on a four-lane road in ward No. 1 of the municipal corporation. This was the first instance of lions venturing into urban areas. The last count of lions had put the official figure at 523, though the number is believed to be much higher.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mysuru zoo gets new additions from Lucknow under exchange programme

Apart from rosy pelicans (in picture), Mysuru zoo has received a pair of swamp deer and a female stripped hyena from Lucknow zoo under an exchange programme.— PHOTO: M.A.SRIRAM
Apart from rosy pelicans (in picture), Mysuru zoo has received a pair of swamp deer and a female stripped hyena from Lucknow zoo under an exchange programme.— PHOTO: M.A.SRIRAM
People visiting the famous Mysuru zoo will get to see new animals and birds as the zoo has received fresh pedigree from the zoo in Lucknow in a bid to prevent inbreeding.
A pair of swamp deer, four pairs of rosy pelicans, and a female stripped hyena arrived here recently from Lucknow under an exchange programme.
In return, Mysuru zoo sent a pair of black swans, a pair of silver pheasants, and two pairs of hog deers to Lucknow zoo.
Mysuru zoo Executive Director K. Kamala told The Hindu that the animals and birds arrived here on August 13 and are quarantined.
“All of them have been exhibited,” she said.
This exchange is meant for adding new bloodline since the zoo here is already home to such animals and birds.
“We have three male and eight female hyenas. We also have a swamp deer. The new bloodline will discontinue inbreeding and result in fresh stock of animals and birds,” she said, adding that inbreeding may also result in diseases.
Renitha, a lioness from Sakkarbaug zoo in Junagadh in Gujarat, which arrived here under an exchange programme recently, will be displayed to visitors from Wednesday, she said.
Mysuru zoo gave a pair of black swans, two Indian grey wolves and a pair of sun conure birds to Sakkarbaug zoo.
Sakkarbaug zoo is known for breeding Asiatic lions— an endangered species found only in Gir forest in Gujarat— and later releasing them into Gir forest. Five years ago, Mysuru zoo received a pair of lions from Sakkarbaug zoo.
Mysuru zoo had Asiatic lions in 1989 but they could not breed. Rakshitha and Darshan, both of whom were cross-bred, are the two other lions in Mysuru zoo.

Zoo dreams big, planning to bring in stars

Even as the city zoo’s efforts to bring in a pair of Himalayan bears from Nagaland continue, it is setting its sights higher to bring in some ‘star’ animals from abroad.
Giraffe, zebra, white lion, and black jaguar are the animals the zoo is looking to bring over from Africa. The proposal has the State government’s backing, but sanction from the Central Zoo Authority and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change is needed before other procedures get under way.
Also on the cards is acquisition of an Asiatic lion from Hyderabad. The lions at the zoo here are a hybrid of African and Asian, but the zoo is looking to bring in a pure Asiatic lion. A decision on this is expected at a meeting of the CZA the coming week.
The meeting is also likely to give the green signal to a proposal to bring white peacocks and reticulated python from the Vandalur zoo in Chennai.
The Himalayan bears will take another month to arrive, Zoo Director K. Gangadharan said. “We need to book an SLR coach to bring them here. Papers have been sent to Southern Railway in Chennai, and one we get their go-ahead, the bears can be transported here.”
The plan is to bring them over on the direct train from Dimapur.
At the zoo, the enclosures of various species are in for an overhaul. The exotic birds aviary near the zoo hospital, which has been in a bad shape owing to lack of maintenance, not to mention the onslaught from the birds themselves, is to get a makeover. The Public Works Department has been asked by Zoo Superintendent T.V. Anil Kumar to submit a revised estimate for the enclosure while taking into account better visibility for visitors. There are also plans for the crocodile and otter enclosures, besides the one for the Indian bison.
When the zoo does welcome the jaguar, it will need a new enclosure for the animal in keeping with the master plan.
Work on the aquatic aviary is expected to be finished by Onam.  
Another important initiative is greening of the enclosures. “A number of enclosures look barren. The idea is to have lots of plants and trees to mimic the natural environment of animals,” zoo officials said.

Lions showered with sisterly love!

RAJKOT: In a unique symbolic gesture to send out a message of lion conservation, hundreds of women from the state sent out 'rakhis' for Asiatic lions in Sasan Gir on Rakshabandhan!

The scenes at the office of deputy conservator of forests in Sasan were heartening as people applied the traditional tilak on a lion poster, performed the 'aarti' and prayed for the protection of Gujarat's pride.

The forest department had launched this unique programme to bring people closer to lion conservation. They had invited rakhis from school girls and women from the across the state for the lions. Officials said the programme got an overwhelming response as they received large number of rakhis through posts.

"This year, we decided to celebrate Rakshabandhan in a unique way and appealed to school girls and women from across the state to send rakhis for their beloved Asiatic lions. People in Gujarat are emotionally attached to the Asiatic lions and their role in the conservation has been remarkable," Ram Ratan Nala, deputy conservator of forests, wildlife division, Sasan-Gir, told TOI.

The rakhis will now be tied to the cages at Sasan-Gir rescue centre, said Nala.

Nala said the women can send in rakhis at the deputy conservator's office, wildlife division at Sasan-Gir village till August 31.

"This is an attempt to bring people closer to lion conservation in the state and it will go a long way in their protection," Nala added.

Top Comment

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Azam Khan tied Rakhis to their Buffaloes.Mark Quinn

Earlier, on the occasion of World Lion Day on August 10, nearly 4 lakh people from 1,500 villages across Saurashtra had taken out rallies in support of lion conservation.

According to the latest census, there are 523 lions which are spread across Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts of the Saurashtra region.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lion cubs the mane event

The cubs made history at Wildlife Park as the first ever triplets born in its forty-six year history. Picture: Natasha Jefferies

A cubs plays with its mother. Picture: Natasha Jefferies

They are picture purr-fect and oh so cute — lion cub triplets born at a wildlife park in Britain.
It was the first litter for rare Asiatic lions Rana and Kanha, who reside at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire.
The three female cubs — Kali, Sita and Sonika — were shown off to the public for the first time at the weekend.
The cubs immediately took to their surroundings, exploring the grassy slopes and nuzzling up to their mother Kanha.
It was also the first time they had met their father Rana and they took full advantage to practise their roars, which came out as high-pitched yelps.
The cubs were the first lion triplets born at the park in its 46-year history.
Asiatic lions, also known as Indian lions or Persian lions, are a small subspecies that live in western India.
As of last year, there were just 523 Asiatic lions in the wild.

Kuno sanctuary can support 40 lions, says expert report

dna Correspondent | Tue, 16 Aug 2016-06:55am , New Delhi , dna
The WII's is carrying out a longer study on the Kuno habitat to assess the status of prey, predators, disease prevalence among carnivore communties, human impacts and people's perceptions to lion reintroduction.
Even as the ministry of environment and forest drags its feet on translocating lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, a Wildlife Institute of India report has said that the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in MP has the potential to support about 40 lions. Bhopal based wildlife activist Ajay Dube, who has been campaigning for translocation of the lions, obtained the report under Right to Information Act. Dna has reviewed copies of the documents.
The WII's is carrying out a longer study on the Kuno habitat to assess the status of prey, predators, disease prevalence among carnivore communties, human impacts and people's perceptions to lion reintroduction. The study is as per directives of the Supreme Court, which in April 2013, order translocation of lions. The SC's order though was challenged by Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot.
The WII's report to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change said that even as they were carrying out a long-tern study, "Lion reintroduction within the sanctuary part of Kuno (345 should not wait for the completion of the current study since earlier ecological assessments by WII had already validated the potential of that area to support about 40 lions."
The report goes on to add, "The current study in concurrence with the lion reintroduction exercises would serve as a benchmark for post-release long-term monitoring of lions, prey and other predators and would be mostly helpful in quantifying social and ecological status of landscape outside the sanctuary boundary which lions are likely to explore once the population reaches its carrying capacity of 40 lions inside the sanctuary after about 15 years."
The translocation of the world's only thriving Asiatic Lion population from Gir national park in Saurashtra to Kuno in MP has been at the centre of a raging debate.

Pride of Gujarat

Gujarat, throughout Narendra Modi's tenure as Chief Minister, made it clear that it was not willing to part the lions, which is the symbol of Gujarati asmita (pride) and is firm on this stand. Wildlife biologists and activists on the other hand have stressed despite the fledgling population, Gir is an island for lions and reintroducing them in a new habitat will aid long-term conservation. Last year, stormy rainfall and ensuing floods killed 10 lions and hundreds of ungulates such as Nilgai.

Poaching threat to lions outside Gir, warns IUCN

| TNN |
AHMEDABAD: Stating that the lion population outside the protected area of Gir Sanctuary has increased by around 400%, the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its latest report for the year 2016 has raised an alarm that lions in Gujarat are under threat of illegal trade in body parts similar to that of their counterparts in Africa.

The IUCN in its report states that "Asia is home to a single contiguous sub-population in the Indian state of Gujarat. While the population has stabilized inside the Gir reserve, the socalled 'satellite population' in the surrounding countryside has expanded by over 400% in the past 21 years."

On the other hand, the report points out that "lion population in Africa is inferred to have undergone a reduction of approximately 43% over the past 21 years (approximately three lion generations, 1993-2014)". Forest minister Ganpat Vasava said the department will study the IUCN report in depth. "We will initiate whatever action is best needed for conservation of Asiatic lions which are the pride of Gujarat."

The Asiatic lion census in 2015 had shown that there are around 523 lions in Gujarat of which over 168 lions have moved out in un protected parts of Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir-Somnath, Rajkot and Junagadh districts.

Their actual number is said to be much hig her than the cen sus count. The 1990 census had revealed only 284 lions in Gir and nearby areas, of which around 250 were in the Gir Sanctuary.

The IUCN report states that "illegal trade in lion body parts for medicinal purposes is considered a threat to African lion sub-populations as well as to the small sub-population in India's Gir forest". The apex conservation body has stated that there is a need for Africa, India and other countries to prohibit trade in lion bones and other parts and products.

CID (crime) investigations into the case of poaching of the eight lions in Saurashtra in 2007 had revealed that the poachers gang from Madhya Pradesh had killed lions for selling skin and bones. Lions have become targets of poachers as the tiger population is falling. Body parts of lions and tigers are in great demand in China. There have, however, been no known cases of lion poaching in Gujarat in the last 10 years.

Whose lion is it anyway? 23 years into plan, not one Gir lion shifted to MP

Shailendra Tiwari @shailendra_mona | First published: 13 August 2016, 9:19 IST
On paper, the process of bringing Asiatic lions from the Gir forest in Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh has been continuing for 23 years now. But, till date, not a single lion has been shifted.
This is despite the fact that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency for this transfer.
According to the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Anil Madhav Dave, the MP government has made no such request. The state government, on its part, claims the latest reminder for the transfer of lions was sent as late as May 2016.

Replying to a query, Dave had recently told Parliament that the Madhya Pradesh government had never asked for lions in the first place. However, it is important to note that Dave's own ministry had started the process of shifting lions to the state.

History of the plan

The MoEF had started looking for a new abode for the lions of Gir in 1993. Documents accessed by Patrika prove that the ministry wanted to shift some of the lions from Gir to the Kuno wildlife sanctuary in MP.
According to these documents, the Wild Life Institute of India had initiated a detailed research on the future of the Gir lions in 1986. The purpose of this study was to suggest measures for long-term conservation of the lions.
The idea of shifting Asiatic lions from their only abode in the Gir forest to MP emanated from this research.
In October 1993, the findings of the research were made public in Vadodara. It suggested three new locations for the lions, namely the Darrah-Jawahar Sagar and Sitamata sanctuaries in Rajasthan, and MP's Kuno wildlife reserve.
An expert committee, comprising famous scientists Ravi Chellam and Justus Joshua, among others, studied the climate of these three places and found Kuno to be the most appropriate habitat for the lions.
On 24 July 1996, the then-Madhya Pradesh forest secretary wrote a letter to the MoEF, asking to notify the Kuno sanctuary area as a habitat for lions. The Central government took four years to give its nod. A 20-year work plan was chalked out for the relocation of the lions.
As per the work plan, all the technical issues like area notification were to be sorted out in the time period between 1995-2000. The actual shifting of the lions, their research and monitoring were to take place from the year 2000 to 2005.
On 10 March 2004, the Central government constituted a high-power committee to complete this task in a time bound manner.
Yet, the relocation has not even begun, as of now.
"The ministry, which is acting as a nodal agency in this matter, is now asking who has asked for the lions. It is laughable," says social activist Ajay Dubey.
Ravi Shrivastava, Madhya Pradesh's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life), sent a reminder to the Union Ministry on 12 May 12.
Pointing out that 10 Asiatic lions had died in the Gir forest in July 2015 because of floods, the PCCF stressed on the urgent need to shift the lions to Madhya Pradesh.

The timeline

1986: The Wild Life Institute of India begins its research on the life and future of the Gir lions.
1993: Consensus emerges on finding an alternative habitat for lions. Two sanctuaries in Rajasthan and one in MP are shortlisted, of which MP's Kuno is finalised as the alternate location.
1995: Madhya Pradesh asks the Centre for the notification of the Kuno sanctuary as a lion habitat.
1996: The MP government sends its proposal to the Central government.
2000: The Central government notifies the Kuno sanctuary as a lion habitat
2004: The Union government forms a high-power committee for the monitoring of the relocation process.
2005: The deadline for relocation of lions passes.
2016: Union Minister of State MoEF Anil Madhav Dave says in Parliament that the MP govt never asked for the lions in the first place.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma

The need to increase public awareness about preservation of fauna

By Jamshid Parchizadeh August 10, 2016

Nowadays specific symbolic days are celebrated in order to increase the awareness of the public to preserve animal species across the globe. In this article, I am going to describe briefly the importance of these symbolic days for the conservation of fauna.

Let us take the August 10, “World Lion Day,” as an example. Lions are found only in Africa, (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), and India in Asia. Every year those who are interested in conserving lions celebrate “World Lion Day” to increase awareness about the necessity of conserving the “king of the jungle.” Unfortunately, the number of lions is decreasing each minute, and as such they need to be conserved.
The Persian lion (scientific name: Panthera leo persica – common name: Asiatic lion) has always been a symbol of greatness, strength, and courage for Iranians, and that is why we can see the symbolic Persian lions on the walls of ancient monuments, porcelain, coins, handmade carpets, jewelry, stamps, and even architecture in Iran. This subspecies was first seen in Persia in 1826 by an Austrian zoologist, Johann N. Meyer, and therefore the scientific name of Felis leo persicus was selected. However, the scientific name was changed to Panthera leo persica afterwards.
The Persian lion was once distributed across the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, northern Greece, Turkey, and Iran to the Indian subcontinent, including the present-day Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. In Iran, the Persian lion was distributed across the forests around the Karkheh, the Dez, and the Karoon Rivers as well as Masjed Soleyman and Ramhormoz in Khuzestan, Bushehr, and Kazeroon and Dasht-e Arzhan in Fars.
The Persian lion’s habitat in Iran used to be grasslands, marshlands, brush, woodlands, and plains close to the waters. Deer, wild boar, Persian zebra and Persian fallow deer were the main prey of the Persian lion. Most unfortunately, this subspecies became extinct in Iran in 1942 due to habitat loss, prey loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. It turned into an eternal myth in Iran. Today, there are only 523 individuals in the Gir Forest National Park, Gujarat State, India.
It is vital to increase the awareness of the public in order to conserve the animal species of our planet. Most unfortunately, not only the Persian lion is being forgotten in Iran, but also the attention towards other animal species is decreasing every day. Most Iranians do not care for fauna, and the Department of the Environment (DoE), which is in charge of preserving Iran’s flora and fauna, has focused only on the conservation of the Asiatic cheetahs. However, the DoE has been even unsuccessful in conserving cheetahs as they get killed repeatedly by poachers or in car accidents, etc.
It is indeed necessary to pay attention to all animal species instead of paying attention to only one. No one wishes that brown bears, Asiatic black bears, Persian leopards, Asiatic cheetahs, etc. go extinct in Iran. Thus, celebrating symbolic days such as “World Lion Day,” which is missing from Iran’s calendar, could be a great boost to increase public awareness about the conservation of Iran’s fauna. That is the task that falls to the DoE.
Hence, I would like to bring this important issue to the attention of the authorities in charge. Please use the public’s power to preserve Iran’s fauna. Fauna do not only belong to the current generation. They also belong to the future generations, and as such they are to be preserved at any cost.

Lion deaths threaten to unravel Etawah safari, activists call for closure

Haidar Naqvi, Hindustan Times, Kanpur, Hindustan Times
Updated: Aug 10, 2016 16:49 IST
Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s demand in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday for a probe into the death of “his lions” is now being seen as a desperate attempt to salvage his dream of making Etawah lion safari an ecotourism hub.
The death of the lions has put the Rs 100-crore lion safari spread across 150 acres under a severe strain. A few environmentalists and wildlife experts who do not wish to be named have suggested that the safari be shut down. It has lost four lions and five cubs since September 2014.
And there could be more deaths. Another lioness Girishma is now half paralysed. Experts are calling for euthanasia to end her pain.
“The safari has not been able to tide over the problem of feline mortality. The government has done everything it can do. It is the wildlife machinery that is failing the safari,” said Dr Sandeep Paul, a vet and a whistle-blower.
Dr Paul was the first to point out way back in September 2014 that the lion named Vishnu had died of canine distemper. He faced ridicule from top state wildlife officials who felt an outsider had no business to dispute their findings. Wildlife officials believed that Vishnu died of leptospira and babesia.
But Dr Paul stood vindicated after the autopsy report of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly, confirmed canine distemper virus (CDV) in Vishnu’s lymph node.
Vishnu’s partner Lakshmi, who died within two weeks of his death, was found CDV positive in brain tissue.
Tapasya and Kuber, the other pair that died this year, also had canine distemper. And Girishma is battling with the same virus.
“They didn’t pay heed in 2014 and when they realised, it was too late. Now, I fear for Pataudi, Jessica, Kunwari, Gigo and two others,” said Dr Paul.
Canine distemper virus that spreads through the dogs killed nearly 1,000 lions in Tanzania recently, and wildlife experts believe Asiatic lions in India are now catching the infection. Some say that Gir, from where four lions were brought to Etawah, is also not free of the virus.
The deaths have hit the state government’s efforts to open the safari before the assembly election early next year. The government has undertaken vaccination of stray dogs on a massive scale and has involved foreign wildlife experts such as Jonathan Cracknell, director of Longleat Animal Safari & Adventure Park in England. He is an expert in infectious disease management. Cracknell visited the Safari in January this year.
The Etawah lion safari is also in touch with experts at Washington’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI).
The government also sent its veterinary and officials from different zoos to learn how Gir is managing a better survival rate of felines. The number of lions has risen by 23% at Gir in the last five years. The survival rate of cubs crossing the age of two years is 35% that is more than the national average.
Deputy director of the Etawah lion safari, Dr Anil Patel said it was a unique project that involved rehabilitating lions in a new geographical area.
“The other lions are hale and hearty and we will make the project a success,” he said, adding “there are no standard vaccines or cure available for canine distemper”.

Asia's Lions Live in One Last Place on Earth—and They're Thriving

While Asiatic big cats are rare, their spiritual importance helped inspire their human neighbors to keep them safe.

African lions get, well, the lion's share of attention—but some would be surprised to learn there's another subspecies of the big cat in Asia.
The Asiatic lion once roamed vast swaths of the Middle East and Asia, but indiscriminate hunting and killing to protect livestock led to their mass slaughter. By the late 1800s, as few as 10 of the animals remained on Earth.
Their last refuge became western India's Gir National Park, a protected area where the number of these endangered animals is now on an upward trend. According to a 2015 census, a little more than 500 lions—the world's total wild population—live in Gir, up from 411 in 2010. In comparison, about 20,000 African lions remain in the wild. (See a map of the lion's decline worldwide.)
Like their African kin, Asiatic lions live in prides, and the females do most of the hunting, taking down prey like antelope. They look much like their cousins, too, though they tend to be slightly smaller than African lions and live in forests instead of open grasslands. They also have a distinctive fold of skin on their stomachs, and their manes are less plush.
“There’s so few conservation success stories when it comes to carnivores,” says Gitanjali Bhattacharya, program manager at the Zoological Society of London’s South and Central Asia programs, “and the Asiatic lion, for me, it’s really a story of hope. Because you’ve got a population that’s growing, a community that’s supportive, and the lion is taking back its former range.”
Watch Asia's Last Lions by Roshan Patel, featured in National Geographic's Short Film Showcase. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.

That success can be attributed to the effort of conservation groups and local communities' dedication to protecting the animals. (Read more about National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative.)
The people who live around Gir have a deep respect for the lions and patrol the jungle looking for poachers—though illegal hunting hasn't been a problem for a long time, says Bhattacharya.
They're "right on top of it, monitoring threats,” she says.
For them, "the lion is beyond an endangered species,” Bhushan Pandya, member of the Gujarat State Board for Wildlife and Asiatic lion conservationist, says by email. “Lion, the king of jungle, is the symbol of strength and power.”
The predator is also a religious icon in Hinduism; the goddess Durga rides a lion, and the god Narasimha is half lion. (See National Geographic's most stunning pictures of big cats.)
Cats on the Move
Even so, scientists are concerned that disease or natural disaster could wipe out the entire Gir population in one fell swoop. Some Asiatic lions live in zoos worldwide, but there are no plans to release those animals to build a wild population. (Read: "Lions Approach Extinction in West Africa.")
To avoid this fate, the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project, an Indian government initiative, plans to capture some Asiatic lions from Gir and relocate them to the Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, located in another state. That way, if anything happens to Gir, there will still be lions in Palpur-Kuno.
That plan has proven controversial, however. Though Pandya supports the idea of translocation, he doesn't think that Palpur-Kuno is a good place for the lions. There isn't enough prey, poaching gangs may be a threat, and tigers—potential competitors—already live in the region, he says. (Read: "Tiger Got Your Goat? Here’s Who to Call.")
What's more, the Gujarat State Wildlife Department has also objected to moving the animals outside the state, suggesting they would be better off living in two other parks within their state.
Despite such disputes, Bhattacharya hopes that other big cat conservation projects can learn from the Asiatic lion.
"There’s an inspiration there for carnivore conservation around the world."
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World Lion Day: What Would You Do to Protect Lions?

Posted by Michael Schwartz in Cat Watch on August 10, 2016
After cordially being invited to “pen a post” for National Geographic’s Cat Watch in honor of World Lion Day #worldlionday, I was elated; not only because I was asked, but, and in spite of this being quite the cliché, I absolutely, unequivocally love lions!
Given the number of conservation issues surrounding the animal kingdom’s noblest of big cats, the first question I asked myself was, “which lion topic should I focus on?”
Then, after some thought, I found the excitement of writing about my favorite feline had faded, replaced by a gathering litany of challenges ready to storm-cloud their way through my mind like some incipient hurricane.
From one issue to the next, thinking about the king of beasts only furthered an increasingly dismal outlook on their future. General prognosis: not good.
Are Lions Faring Well?
Wild lions are faring well in certain circumstances. But let’s not kid ourselves—overall, they aren’t exactly on the winning end of the conservation stick.
And what’s more, the press revolving around their uncertain fate has been written and rewritten; thousands of times, thousands of different ways—all by a veritable who’s who of conservationists and other animal pundits.
Ergo, I could write at length about the ever growing challenge of human expansion and land conversion, which continues to deplete much of the lion’s former range. But you probably already know that.
Likewise, I could devote a page to the deceased Zimbabwe lion whose name you’re all too familiar with, complete with the debate about the benefits (or lack thereof) of hunting to conserve wildlife. But despite it being a critical conversation, you definitely already know about that!
Finally, I could write an entire article about the dangers humans and lions pose to one another; that lions stray from reserves from time to time and make off with a cow, goat, or even injure or kill a person, and that retaliations from locals can result in the poisoning of an entire pride.
But once more, you already know that.
Protecting Lions Means Asking Relevant Questions
A lion cub in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Photo by Michael Schwartz
A lion pushes on through a gritty wind in the Nossob Riverbed, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa. National Geographic photo by Chris Johns.
A lion pushes on through a gritty wind in the Nossob Riverbed, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa. National Geographic photo by Chris Johns.
A lion cub in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Photo by Michael SchwartzI soon realized that there were more important questions concerning lions than merely asking myself what subject was worth highlighting. For instance, can humans realistically exist in a relative state of balance with lions? If not, then why not? And if yes, then how?
Not long after jotting those down, another question surfaced in three slightly different ways: What can we do to further protect lions? What would I do to protect lions? What would you do to protect lions?
That last question is for the kid living in London, Nairobi, Cairo, or upstate New York, or perhaps the retiree who’s been reading similar articles in National Geographic magazines. You may love lions too, but merely loving them won’t save them.
Many conservationists have been working to answer that important question for quite some time. In some cases there’s been tremendous success, while for others, abject failure.
The reason I’m asking you, the reader, is because in spite of the polemics, fundraisers, or social media slogans in support of lions, we sometimes forget that conserving them means coming up with actual solutions.
Now that the question has been posed, and not forgetting the countless number of folks already tirelessly working out how best to save wild lions, why not try proactively weighing in?
But before doing so, permit me to jot down several common sense essentials that might aid you in in your response.
Protecting Lions Means Knowing the Facts
Asiatic Lion in India. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons.
Asiatic lion in India. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons.
Two juvenile lions hunting in early evening at Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Photo by Michael Schwartz.
Two juvenile lions hunting with their pride during early evening in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Photo by Michael Schwartz.
Why are wild lions in danger? The short answer is habitat loss and not enough prey, which most conservationists and other researchers working in the field will verify.
I won’t get into specifics, but if lions are to survive in an ever-developing world, addressing habitat loss and ensuring a stable prey base must be the main priority, which also means figuring out how conserving them can best benefit local communities who rely on land too.
Another issue related to habitat loss is the fact that lions are a threat to humans and their livestock living near and even outside of protected areas.
To wit, it’s understandable that many African people don’t want to foot the bill for lion protection while losing their lives and livelihoods in the process. Human-wildlife conflict is another multifaceted problem that must be remedied if lions are to remain.
Then there’s hunting, which many believe is the pièce de résistance when it comes to dwindling lion numbers. In reality, hunting is more towards the bottom of the lion’s laundry list of obstacles.
Hunting seems one of the larger problems because it’s drawn more media attention in recent years than the bigger challenges lions currently face. The reason, simply put, is that hunting is wildly contentious since it tugs painfully on many an animal enthusiast’s heartstrings.
To summarize, the idea of killing an animal to save the species seems incompatible with conservation to some, though hunters and other conservationists contest that it greatly offsets habitat loss; land that aside from being unfit for tourism, could become livestock pastures or fields of agriculture with more wildlife being killed in the process if left unmanaged.
I’ll admit that I have mixed feelings about hunting, and there’s certainly evidence pointing to isolated cases of gross mismanagement, not to mention the targeting of genetically healthy lions which can lead to infanticide, none of which casts it in a particularly positive light.
But emotions aside, wild lions need those who are willing to address hunting holistically.
If lion protection truly needs hunting as one of several measures in the conservation toolkit, then the evidence will back it up with verifiable facts. If not, the same applies.
Hunting will no doubt be further addressed at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Johannesburg, South Africa, this coming September.
Protecting Lions Means Remembering Asiatic Lions
It’s easy to forget that lions once roamed throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia. This touches on a smaller subspecies of lion more closely related to the small population living in West Africa.
While wild lions in Africa number somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000, there are only about 523 Asiatic (or Persian) lions left in the world, all living in India’s 545 square mile Gir Forest National Park.
For these lions, the struggle for survival and real possibility of extinction goes well beyond the basic difficulties of human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss.
Changes to their environment through natural events such as wildfires, infectious diseases, and inbreeding are all very real threats that could wipe out the entire population in one disastrous blow.
For this subspecies, the difference between life and death is the continuing efforts to mitigate all of these risks, which includes growing the population, and most importantly, remembering that their survival is of equal importance to that of their African brethren.
Lion Guardian Kamunu works to protect lions from poaching and retaliatory killings. Photo by Philip J Briggs.
Lion Guardian Kamunu works to protect lions from poaching and retaliatory killings. Photo by Philip J Briggs.
Protecting Lions Means Staying Positive
Negative news and fear-based media seems to define our world nowadays, a concept I learned when a former professor once dropped the line, “if it bleeds, it leads.”
While I perish the thought of a world without lions, and while we shouldn’t sugarcoat the barriers that exist, the ordnance of negative conservation stories being endlessly fired out into cyberspace can ironically hurt the cause.
“Unfortunately for many, the task ahead seems too big,” African wildlife filmmaker Kim Wolhuter said in a separate interview.
“We keep feeding people with so much negative about our natural world they can’t cope. They think their little help just isn’t going to make a difference. We need to change our approach and be more positive.”
That said, it’s important to be deliberate in counterbalancing the grim news with real stories of success. Take the Lion Guardians for example.
By turning rural Kenyans and Tanzanians from poachers to protectors, there has been a 90 percent drop in retaliatory lion killings in East Africa, a number of community rangelands transformed into lion refuges, and a significant increase in community conservation participation.
Lions have also been reintroduced to Malawi’s Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve, as well as in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, thanks in large part to the continued efforts of African Parks, a nonprofit organization that deals exclusively with some of the toughest protected areas on the continent.
From lion-proof bomas (enclosures) for cattle to more active community involvement, it is these stories that should be amplified, not only for the betterment of lions, but for the people around the world standing in solidarity for their continued protection.
Protecting Lions Means Getting Involved
Lioness at dawn surrounded by dust is looking for the rest of the pride after a failed hunt on buffalo.
Lionesses at dawn surrounded by dust is looking for the rest of the pride after a failed hunt on buffalo.
A lone lioness looks out at a herd of buffalo in Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda. Photo by Michael Schwartz
A lone lioness looks out at a herd of buffalo in Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda. Photo by Michael Schwartz
I started journeying to Africa in early 2005 with high hopes of seeing wild lions in their natural habitat.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to see them on every field visit—from the thorny lowveld of South Africa and the majestic floodplains of Botswana, to the red-rich Zambezi river valley and the grassy savannas of Uganda, all the way up to the southernmost border of South Sudan.
I remember my first encounter—watching a small pride stalking a giraffe in the early morning hours. Though they didn’t make the kill, it was their concerted effort that inspired me to start looking at ways in which I could get more involved in wildlife conservation.
I once came across a quote stating, “everyone wants to eat, but few are willing to hunt,” which is contextually poignant.
Many people find plenty of time to complain about the status of lions, but what about dropping the criticism and lending a helping hand instead?
There are a number of ways that anyone interested can help in the conservation of lions—both in Africa and in India.
These include volunteer opportunities (just be sure it’s ethical), enrolling for science-related degrees that offer the chance of studying lions in the field, and even chances to work with rural communities on ways to improve farming and build lion-proof enclosures, which are in dire need of innovative techniques.
Sometimes it starts by simply offering to help. Who knows where you might end up if you do?
Protecting Lions Means Changing Your World View
Though social media is one way of staying connected to lion conservation efforts, it can also be a sounding board for unnecessary anger and inertia when it’s reduced to brass tacks.
It is this type of reactionist mentality that can blur the contours of effective conservation methodology because it fosters more division with less results.
In reality, most conservation work is extremely complex. The issue of park fences is one key example.
Some conservationists believe that fences around national parks and game reserves are the best way of keeping lions, rural communities, and livestock safe. If fences aren’t in place, it invites poachers in, while opening the door to more instances of human-wildlife conflict.
However, fences can sometimes alter an environment from proper self-regulation, resulting in species overpopulation, or preventing the migration of prey animals, both of which could involve culling to prevent a loss of biodiversity.
The difficulties of such dilemmas aside, what sometimes follows is hardline stances and factional infighting over issues that desperately need a united front, both to protect local people, and to preserve lions.
On a personal note, I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve considered ideas for protecting lions that lie outside of the conventional norm.
Unfortunately, however, some people seem content with bursts of outrage and name-calling as ways to advance their ideas for conservation.
I’m here to tell you that if there is one universal truth to safeguarding lions, it’s this: hostility and strife are not answers and never will be.
Don’t misunderstand, civil debates over how best to conserve lions are absolutely necessary. But don’t forget to keep an open mind too. Who knows: You might learn something new from someone who has a different point of view, or they might even learn something from you.
What Will You Do for Lions?
You’ve no doubt figured out by now that I haven’t come up with an answer of my own for how to protect lions. Truthfully, I’m still thinking it through, and I hope you too have started pondering how best to meet this goal.
If there’s any encouragement I might be able to offer, it’s this: lion protection should not be about preventing the inevitable, so much as it should be about embracing what’s possible, which starts by having a little faith!
No matter what the circumstances surrounding lions, their plight is not insoluble, provided we stay informed, stay positive, get involved, be forward thinking, and never give up!
So, given all that you’ve just read, I ask once more: What would you do to protect lions? What will you do to protect lions?
As someone who has witnessed the good, bad, and ugly sides of lion conservation firsthand, I encourage you, I implore you, remain hopeful and be part of the solution. Let your voices be heard.
Better yet, let out a mighty roar!

For further information about World Lion Day and ways you can help, please visit
Michael Schwartz is a journalist and African wildlife conservation researcher. With field experience around the continent since 2005, his passion for Africa’s wildlife is matched by his compassion for the people who live there.
A significant portion of his field work is carried out in Uganda.

Cotswold Wildlife Park celebrates birth of rare lion cub triplets

By Lucy_Parford  |  Posted: August 09, 2016
Natasha JefferiesThe new parents are both five years old. Rana arrived at the Park on Valentine's Day 2013 from a zoological collection in France. Kanha joined him one year later from Parken Zoo in Sweden.
Both came to the collection as part of the European Breeding Programme (EEP) and keepers hoped that they would one day produce a litter of their own.
The two formed an instant bond and two years later, after a gestation period of four months, Kanha gave birth to three cubs – Kali, Sita and Sonika.

Lionesses rear their babies in seclusion and often reject them if they are disturbed so keepers watched the births remotely on CCTV monitors.
For nearly two months, the triplets lived solely with their mother in the birthing pen. Rana remained in the neighbouring enclosure but was never too far from the cubs, often seen by keepers taking a great interest in his new family.
This week, the cubs were successfully introduced to their father in the main lion outdoor enclosure. Kanha and Rana are proving to be exceptional first-time parents and all three boisterous newborns, sexed as female, are healthy and developing into confident young cubs.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented: "We have not bred Lions for many years at Cotswold Wildlife Park so it is an exciting time for the mammal keepers.
"Our young pair are proving to be exemplary parents and although there was some trepidation when we reintroduced the lioness and her cubs to the male, all went without a hitch and they can now be seen playing happily families in their enclosure."
Asiatic Lions are one of the world's rarest big cat species. Wild population numbers have declined drastically over the last century, almost to the point of extinction.

Once found throughout much of South-West Asia, they are now only found in one isolated area - India's Gir Forest. This region is the sole home to this subspecies and is considered to be one of the most important conservation areas in Asia.
This forest has shrunk to less than half its size since 2000 and Asiatic Lions are considered to be vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, such as an epidemic or large forest fire.
They are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is open from 10am to 6pm until October. E-tickets cost £14 for adults or £15 on the gate. For children aged three to 16 E-tickets for £9.50 or £10 on the gate. Under-threes go free.

A Whole New World of Simba: 10 Amazing Facts About These Big Cats for World Lion Day

Aug 11, 2016 04:20 AM EDT
King Lion
To celebrate the World Lion Day, get to know more about the quirks of the "King of the Jungle."
(Photo : Ryan Poplin/Creative Commons/Flickr)
Lions are seriously fierce animals. Unlike their smaller feline relatives, lions are way bigger, wilder and untamed. After all, lions can't be called "king of the jungle" if they are you know, plain and ordinary.
And to give homage for their strong and royal image, here are some of the most amazing and fascinating facts about lions.

1. Two Kinds of Kings

According to Live Science, there are two kinds of lions: the Asiatic lions that live in India's Gir Forest and African lions live in central and southern Africa.

2. Roaring for Communication

If people talk to communicate and to be understood, lions roar to communicate their position to other prides. A lion's roar is the loudest of any big cat and can be heard up to 8km away , One Kind Org reports.

3. Determining a Lion's Age

World Wildlife Fund reported that the darker the mane, the older the lion.
4. Lions are Fierce, Regardless of Gender
In the world of lions, both male and female lions as are as fierce. Male lions defend the pride's territory while females are the main hunters of the pride even though males eat first.

5. Puma an Outcast?

Interestingly, mountain lions (pumas) are in the same family (Felidae) as Asiatic and African lions, but they are not considered lions, Live Science reports.

6. Sharp Night Vision

One Kind Org reported that lions have terrific night vision. They are six times more sensitive to light than humans. This gives them distinct advantage over some prey species when hunting at night.

7. Royal Walk

Did you know that a lion's heels don't touch the ground when it walks? Yes, they don't, according to World Wildlife Fund.

8. Bed Buddy

Lions enjoy relaxing and lazing around. They spend 16 to 20 hours each day resting and sleeping, One Kind Org reports.

9. Pride is the Name of the Game

National Geographic reported that young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male. Talk about being independent.

10. Amazing Leapers

A lion can run for short distances at 50 mph and leap as far as 36 feet, World Wildlife Fund reports.
Lions might be "king of the jungle," but their numbers are seriously declining.
In fact, in Sasan-Gir National Park in India is primarily created to protect the last remaining Asiatic lions. There are roughly 350 to 400 lions in that park. According to World Wildlife Fund, the lion was once found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe but now exists only in Africa with one exception.

Mysuru Zoo gets one more Asiatic lion

 Ranita, a six-year-old female lion arrived here, on Thursday midnight (August 4), from Sakkarbaugh Zoo, Junagadh, Gujarat, on an animal exchange programme. DH File Photo for representation.

August 10, 2016,Mysuru, DHNS

 Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysuru, has added one more Asiatic lion to its collection of animals.
Ranita, a six-year-old female lion arrived here, on Thursday midnight (August 4), from Sakkarbaugh Zoo, Junagadh, Gujarat, on an animal exchange programme.

According to K Kamala, Deputy Conservator of Forests and Executive Director of Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Ranita is doing well and is kept under quarantine at an enclosure. Ranita will be released for public view in a week’s time after she recovers from the long journey.

With the addition of Ranita, the number of lions has increased to four in the zoo. The zoo already has Asiatic female lion Gowri and Afro-Asiatic lions Darshan and Rakshitha.

‘Lions Deserve Honour’

Rajya Sabha MP and RIL group president Parimal Nathwani has launched a virtual crusade to save Asiatic lions and ensure national animal status for the lions of Gir
Lion. The word conjures up an image of a wild creature that can harm human life and livestock. Lions are meant to be in the jungle, within a wildlife sanctuary like other wild animals. They may be the chief form of entertainment in circus shows, but they are not allowed to even reciprocate the applause they get for their performance from the audience, beyond the cage and ring.

Lions are believed to have been spotted north of the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the past. They gradually migrated towards Saurashtra and settled around Gir, in Gujarat, the only place in the world where Asiatic Lions are found now.

During British rule, only a dozen lions survived the heinous game of hunting. Later, the Nawab of Junagarh and subsequently, the Gujarat government, issued successive directives to punish hunting of lions.

The mythological and historical significance of this wild creature inspired Parimal Nathwani, wildlife lover, Rajya Sabha member and group president of Reliance Industries, to restore the lion to its glory, using his political and social clout. He has launched a virtual crusade to accord ‘national animal’ status to lions.

Nathwani has always stood for the cause of protection and survival of lions. Be it in his capacity as a top honcho of the corporate world or as a member of Parliament (MP), Nathwani has always upheld the cause of lions. He continues to press the Union government, both in Parliament and outside, to grant national animal status to lions through a legislation.

Nathwani has taken a vow to protect this rare species of the big cat family from becoming extinct. He contends that no other wild animal in the country deserves the honour that lions do. The lion has always been the king of the jungle. Neither the scriptures, nor ancient Indian history could ignore its importance. The king’s throne, for instance, was called ‘Simhasan’. Simply put, the king’s seat was considered as glorious as that of a lion.

Even India’s national emblem features four lions standing back to back —derived from sculptures built by King Ashoka, to portray the bold face of the nation.

The recent apex court order to translocate lions from Gir in Gujarat could not dampen Nathwani’s crusade to protect the lives of Asiatic lions. In his argument against the Supreme Court’s order to form a committee to recommend shifting of lions from Gir within six months, Nathwani says that Gir was the most suitable habitat for lions in the light of its geographical and environmental location. Moving lions out of Gir could deter ongoing efforts to save this rare species from extinction.

Nathwani contends that translocation of animals is never conducive to their well-being, because the changed environment and habitat is not always good for their health.

He rules out unfounded apprehensions about wildfires and epidemics in Gir. He claims that neither forest fires nor epidemics have occurred in the Gir sanctuary. In the light of the Supreme Court directive to the Centre forbidding importing cheetahs from Africa for the Kuna sanctuary, Nathwani has asked the apex court to also stop translocation of lions from Gir.

Nathwani was appalled when he learnt of the expenditure on conservation of Asiatic lions in Gujarat. In reply to a question posed by Nathwani in the Rajya Sabha, the ministry of environment and forests informed that in the past three years, Rs 34.39 crore had been released for conservation of Asiatic lions, while Rs 488.58 crore had been released under Project Tiger.

Nathwani expressed anguish at the gaping difference. Despite the fact that lions need more attention for preserving their population, the government has failed to pay proper attention to their conservation when sanctioning money for the purpose.

Nathwani has mobilised Rs 1 crore to cover about 1,300 potholes in the Gir enclosure. Potholes, meant for providing water to animals, were uncovered and small animals often fell into them and died.

Notwithstanding the criticism Nathwani has received for his obsessive love for lions, he has braved on. A section of wildlife activists reacted to his demand to confer national animal status for lions, saying it was a well-hatched conspiracy against tigers. In his defence, Nathwani says, “If I support lions, it does not mean that I hate other animals and I am against the national animal stature for tigers. I admire the ongoing efforts to save tigers across the country by the government and different NGOs as well. But my contention to support lions is that lions are found in a single state while tigers are found in many states. If we support lions by giving them the status of national animals, we can protect and promote this rare wild cat species the way we have done with tigers under specific sections of the law.”

Nathwani claims, “In fact, on several occasions, I have taken up the issue of safety and security of tigers too. Both animals are important to wildlife and need to be conserved with the best possible efforts. Tigers are found in 17 states and commendable efforts have been made to conserve them while lions are found only in Gir of Gujarat. I believe it’s time that lions are accorded the status of national animals and tigers should now dispense with the stature, as they have got enough projection over the decades. Like financial support lent by the Centre under Project Tiger, funds must be allocated for survival of Asiatic lions too. The government has spent Rs 488.58 crore under Project Tiger, while Rs 48.71 crore was spent for conservation of elephants. It has also released a total of Rs 206.09 crore under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats in the past three years. But, incidentally, the Centre has sanctioned only Rs 34.39 crore for Gir in the past three years. I propose to declare every animal as a national animal by rotation after a considerable period of 20 years.”

He substantiates his demand, by pointing to the growing population of tigers with government support. He adds that a remarkable increase had been ensured in the population of tigers from 1,411 in 2008 to 1,706 in 2011, with substantial monetary support from the Centre and that it had now reached 2,226, which was half the world’s population of tigers. He seeks similar support for the protection of lions too from the Centre.

Nathwani’s proposal to replace tigers with lions as the national animal may not evoke a positive response from pro-tiger activists and those unlikely to accept the lion in place of the tiger. Nathwani says he would continue his struggle for the cause of lions, though, and even launch offensives against the system if necessary.

The author is a veteran journalist and has worked for several national dailies, magazines and channels.

This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Aug. 22, 2016' with cover story titled 'Are Cows, Culture Wars And Dalits Atrocities Derailing Modi’s Economic Agenda?'
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

Top wildlife institute for shifting 40 Gujarat lions to Madhya Pradesh

A top wildlife institute has favoured shifting of about 40 lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh's Palpur Kuno sanctuary, which has been delayed by over three years despite a Supreme Court verdict.
| New Delhi | Published: August 7, 2016 2:25 PMThe Madhya Pradesh government has been seeking "immediate" transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to its Palpur Kuno sanctuary. (Source: IE) The Madhya Pradesh government has been seeking “immediate” transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to its Palpur Kuno sanctuary. (Source: IE)

A top wildlife institute has favoured shifting of about 40 lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh’s Palpur Kuno sanctuary, which has been delayed by over three years despite a Supreme Court verdict.×
In a project report to the Centre, Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has said that lion reintroduction within the sanctuary would not wait for the completion of an ongoing study since the institute’s earlier ecological assessment had already validated the potential of that area to support about 40 lions.
“The current study in concurrence with the lion reintroduction exercises would serve as a benchmark for post-release long-term monitoring of lions, prey and other predators and would be mostly helpful in identifying social and ecological status of the landscape outside the sanctuary boundary which lions are likely to explore once the population reaches its carrying capacity of 40 lions inside the sanctuary after 15 years,” it said.

The report was received in response to an RTI query filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey.
The Madhya Pradesh government has been seeking “immediate” transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to its Palpur Kuno sanctuary.
In a recent communication to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the state government has rejected all concerns raised by the Gujarat administration for not giving lions to it.
“It is a very common sight to see ‘Bagh Dev’ in many of human settlements in and around tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh wherein people give a deity space to the tigers around and adore them.
“Therefore, once the lions are reintroduced at Kuno, the cultural bondings between the lion and human beings will get established in a natural way,” the MP government had said, in its reply to the issues raised by Gujarat.
The reintroduction plan of lions in Madhya Pradesh had faced stiff opposition from Gujarat.
In April 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered shifting of some of lions to Kuno. The apex court had directed the Environment Ministry to shift them by October, 2013. However, not a single lion has been shifted so far.
Palpur Kuno Sanctuary, in Sheopur district of Gwalior division, has been chosen as the second home for over 500 Asiatic lions in Gir.
In its letter, the MP government cited the 2015 floods in parts of Amreli Bhavnagar area in Gujarat which “resulted in washing away of more than 1,600 blue bulls, 90 spotted deer and 10 Asiatic lions. The MP government requested its Gujarat counterpart to immediately kick off the execution of Supreme Court’s order without any further delay.
The copy of letter was also received by Dubey in response to another RTI query.
Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Dave had recently told the Lok Sabha that his ministry had not received any request for the “immediate” transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh.
“No request for immediate transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh has been received from the government of Madhya Pradesh,” Dave had said.
The Minister said the process of translocation of a few Asiatic lions from Gir National Park to Palpur Kuno is a “long-term action”.
“The whole programme encompasses action for over 25 years. The Ministry of Environment and Forest has constituted an Experts Committee for planning and implementation of translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir to Kuno. The group includes representatives of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat,” he had said.

'Immediate' transfer of lions not sought, Dave tells House, official records show otherwise

Nikhil M Ghanekar | Thu, 4 Aug 2016-08:10am , New Delhi , dna
Even as environment and forest minister Anil Dave informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that Madhya Pradesh government had not sought 'immediate' transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur sanctuary, official records show exactly the opposite. Earlier in May, Ravi Srivastava, former Principal Chief Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh, wrote to the environment ministry and stated explicitly for immediate execution of the lion translocation project, to implement orders of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had ordered translocation of lions in April 2013 but a petition of the Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot, challenged the order and the matter is currently sub-judice.
Srivastava's letter, addressed to Roy P Thomas, joint director, wildlife, of the environment ministry, had pointed out that floods witnessed in Amreli and Bhavnagar in July 2015 had killed 1600 blue bulls, 90 spotted deers and 10 Asiatic lions. He added that such natural calamities pose a threat to the lion population and thus requested the ministry to, "immediately kick start execution of Hon'ble Supreme Court's order dated 15th April 2013 without any further delay." Dna has accessed a copy of the letter.
Dave, in his reply, flatly denied having received any request for transfer of lions. Dave's fellow Members of Parliament from Madhya Pradesh Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath had posed the question on translocation of lions.
In his reply to the Parliament, Dave had added that the translocation matter is a long-term action and the whole programme encompasses action for over 25 years. "The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has constituted an Expert Committee for planning and implementation of translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir, Gujarat to Kuno, Madhya Pradesh. The group includes representatives of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat," Dave had informed the Parliament.
dna tried to get Srivastava's reaction to Dave's reply but he did not respond to calls or text messages. dna also tried to contact Roy P.Thomas for a comment but could not reach him.
Bhopal based wildlife activist, Ajay Dube, who had sourced the letter under the Right to Information Act, 2005, told dna, "Anil Dave is lying and it is shameful he is doing so even as belongs to Madhya Pradesh. His ministry should follow Supreme Court's decisions. I will inform the Members of Parliament (Scindia and Kamal Nath) about the letter and the false claims made by the minister," Dave said.
Scientists and activists have long pushed for the translocation as Gujarat is the only place where Asiatic lions are found in wild. There are fears in the conservation community that a big natural calamity or epidemic may wipe out the entire population, thus rendering India bereft of the majestic big cats. It is also argued that since their population has crossed the carrying capacity of Gir forests and adjoining regions, translocating them will be helpful.
Gir's lion population is now spilling into neighbouring human settlements, leading to regular conflicts. As per the latest population enumeration carried out in 2015, there are an estimated 523 lions in the Gir forests.