Sunday, June 30, 2019

Leopard kills woman in farm near forest in Gujarat

Leopard kills woman in farm near forest in Gujarat

Leopard kills woman in farm near forest in Gujarat
Junagadh, Jun 29 (UNI) A 60-year-old woman was killed by a leopard in a farm near Devaliya Sanctuary in Talala range of the West Gir Forests in Gir Somnath district of Gujarat, Forest officials said on Saturday.
Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) D T Vasavada said that the beast attacked one Hiraben Dahyabhai Ghonsiya late on Friday night while she was going out to attend the natures call.

Lioness Jessica blesses UP with four more cubs

Press Trust of India  |  Etawah (UP) 

Body of male lion cub found in Gir forest, farm-guard injured by leopard

Junagadh, Jun 27 (UNI) The body of around one to two year old male lion was found in Talala range of West Gir forests in Gir Somnath district of Gujarat.
CCF Junagadh D T Vasavada said that the reason behind the death of lion cub prima facie seems to be in-fight among lions. It was found in Hadmatia beat of the forest. There were injury marks on the body.
In another incident in Amreli district a private guard of an agriculture farm close to East Gir forests was attacked and injured by a leopard.
He said that one Bhupatbhai B Parekh who worked as a private guard in an agriculture farm in Samdhiyala village of Rajula taluka close to Pipalva beat of Gir forests was attacked by a leopard in the wee hours. He has sustained injuries in the left leg.

Limestone mining in Bhavnagar to 'impact' livelihood, water bodies, Asiatic lions

By Our Representative
The Khedut Ekta Manch – Gujarat (KEMG), a non-profit farmers’ organization based in Ahmedabad, in a representation to the High Court-appointed committee to study the impact of limestone mining in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, has that there are “very serious issues" would emerge in the wake of the decision to sanction of mining lease in the area "without the prior informed consent of thousands of families and people, who are to be divested of their livelihoods.”
Pointing out that the issue is not of livelihoods alone, but of the loss of the entire ecosystem, water bodies, biodiversity and the endangered and protected lion population in the area, Sagar Rabari, president of the organization, has sought careful examine the issues being raised in KEMG’s submission, demanding that “all mining activities be stopped with immediate effect”, and “advise the High Court of Gujarat to cancel the mining permission and lease.”
Rabari also wants the committee to “advise the concerned government departments to ensure that before sanctioning of any such land for non-agriculture use, prior informed consent of the affected people be made mandatory from not only the Gram Panchayat but Gram Sabha as well”, adding, the government must be told that “a mandatory livelihood loss survey” should be undertaken “prior to such projects being sanctioned on agriculture land.”
The representation particularly focuses its attention to what it calls “specific impacts of limestone mining in 1,300 hectares (ha) spread over the 13 villages of Talaja (Jhanjmer, Talli, Methala, Madhuvan, Reliya, Gadhula, Bambhor, Nava Rajpara, Juna Rajpara) and Mahuva (Nicha Kotda, Uncha Kotda, Dayal, Kalsaar) talukas of Bhavnagar district by Ultratech Cements Ltd”, as 98 per cent of land acquired by the company is “private agricultural land.”


It is observed that, wherever there is limestone underground the land is fertile and agriculture is prosperous. On the seashore from Ghogha to Porbandar, the coastal area is fertile, and the rich agriculture there is known in local language as “Lili Nagher” – the lush green. Inland area away from seashore is comparatively less fertile.
On the seashore, sweet water availability is also due to the limestone. The site where mining is permitted – the Mahuva taluka – is known as Kashmir of Saurashtra. Horticulture is widely practised here, especially coconut plantations and the world famous Jamadar mango, which are now under danger of extinction.
The process of mining will entail excavation, blasting and drilling of blast holes, blasting of rocks, manual shattering of rocks, loading and transportation, etc. The dust is disbursed during these processes and settles on the nearby fields, water bodies and standing crops.
The soil dug from the mine may be dropped from a height making the dust to disburse in the air and deposit on the land rendering the soil sterile. The net effects will be:
  • erosion of the top soil
  • existing land becomes unfit for cultivation because of dumping of solid waste, probably leading to desertification 
  • standing crops are adversely affected due to dust disbursed in the air, stunting the growth of plants and crops 
  • cotton, onion, garlic, jowar, millet and other vegetables will be badly affected by the dust and water pollution. 

Water pollution

Mining activity results in making deep pits which in turn causes ground water table to go down. Contamination of surface water due to dumping of solid waste and dust results in contamination of tanks, rivulets, rivers, open wells and ground water as well.
There may be trucks involved in transportation of limestone. These trucks would be washed at tanks, nalha, and other surface water storage bodies. In this act of working, the dust, oil and grease containing heavy metals like lead (Pb) etc. may get mixed into the water. This can also contaminate the water bodies.

Salinity ingress

Gujarat being a state with the longest coastline in India, is one of the states with a problem of high salinity ingress. Bhavnagar district is a coastal district and is also affected by salinity ingress which threatens agriculture, water quality and overall health of the people.
One of the measures for checking salinity ingress is the embankment (bandharo). While the Government of Gujarat (GoG) and the Government of India (GoI) spend many millions of rupees carrying out studies and making recommendations to the effect that embankments should be built, the GoG on the other hand goes ahead and gives out mining leases in these same areas which threaten the embankment.

Impact on the embankment (bandharo)

Many years back the GoG had proposed a check dam on river Bagad to check salinity ingress. For reasons best known to GoG, the proposed check dam could not be built. Salinity ingress was rapidly threatening the villages upstream, threatening the water quality and agricultural productivity.
Having waited in vain for the GoG to build the dam, the people of villages Methala and Kotada decided to build the check dam themselves by raising the finance for it from among themselves and other donors. They started the work on April 6, 2018 and completed it in June 2018. The total cost of the entire operation was Rs. 45,00,000.
This year (April and May 2019) they strengthened the structure by spending around Rs 7,40,000.In total people have spent Rs 52,00,000 to build 1.3 km long bund plus 300-meter concrete structure to allow the excess water to pass whereas the GoG’s estimate for the same was Rs 80 crore. This check-dam will enrich the groundwater quality; irrigate thousands of acres of land of around 7 villages.
Now, with the mining lease given by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) this water body is threatened, it being in very close proximity (less than a kilometre) to the mining site. The mining operations will release dust in the air which will settle on to the surface of the water, percolate to the wells and pollute the ground water.
The embankment means that there is a shift from ground water irrigation to surface water irrigation which is a highly recommended measure to check groundwater depletion. The mining will force the farmers to revert back to groundwater irrigation further endangering the already dangerous levels of groundwater.

Impact on livelihood

The villages where mining lease has been granted is fertile agricultural land producing cotton, jowar, millet, maize, onion, garlic, and other vegetables. The entire population is dependent on agriculture. In the absence of a permanent source of irrigation people of these villages were forced to migrate after Diwali (start of winter) in search of work.
Children of the migrating families had to suffer loss of education and were forced to live in precarious conditions in industrial areas in the Ankleshwar-Vapi Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) belt. Now, the check dam has assured them a regular source of irrigation, greatly raised the water table and improved the quality of water only in one monsoon.
After suffering years of hardships their life had just begun to look up due to the bandharo. Just at this critical juncture in their lives the mining lease and operations will again make their lives precarious and vulnerable, forcing them to undertake migration yet again.
The contaminated water will damage the crops and reduce the yield and will also create health problems for humans as well as animals. The horticulture crops of coconut, mango and chikoo (sapota) will also suffer due to the dust and water pollution.

Negative impact on agroindustries

Being the onion capital of India, Bhavnagar District and Mahuva and Talaja talukas in particular produces onion and garlic in huge quantity. Based on local onion and garlic, around 110 dehydration plants are working in the nearby villages. Every dehydration plant provides employment to at least 200 to 250 people in the season. These plants work for around 100 days a year.

They export dehydrated onion and garlic to Russia, Middle East, Germany, France and USA earning hundreds of crores of foreign exchange for the country. So also there are approximately 30 cotton ginning mills working in Mahuva and Talaja taluka providing employment to nearly 2,500-3,000 people in the season.
If the fertile agriculture land in the area is mined and polluted, not only the entire agro industry but the farmers, the farm workers, the cattle-rearers and the workers working in agro industries would lose their employment and will be forced to migrate elsewhere thus falling into poverty and vulnerability.

Air pollution

Air pollution is another causality of mining activities. Blasting of land produces dust which invariably mixes with air and this reduces and disturbs oxygen portion and the air carries many toxic matter. Polluted air carries more sulphur oxide which cuts the nutrients which are necessary for nurturing of plants and this also causes dropping of the leaves and the tress.
Polluted air causes wide range of respiratory disorders in people, children and old aged people All the roads leading to mines would be “kacha roads”, the movement of vehicles on these roads will generate fine dust which would cover the agriculture fields. Dust clouds are likely to cover the agriculture crops fully. This will certainly affect the agricultural productivity and the quality of the yield.

Impact on health

Diseases such as bronchitis, Asthma, TB, and dust related diseases like silicosis are bound to come up in the region due to the mining. It will take a huge toll on community health in a region which is reeling with poor health infrastructure to begin with.

Noise pollution

Transportation of limestone through trucks would result in noise pollution in the villages. Apart from that the mining activities of drilling, blasting, compressors, pumps, loading, etc. will also contribute to the noise pollution. Noise pollution cause a sudden rise in blood pressure, noise can cause stress, noise can cause muscles pain, and noise can cause changes in the diameter of the blood vessel and nervousness, fatigue, temporary or permanent hearing problems.

Irreversible damage to lion habitat

Palitana, Jesar, Talaja and Mahuva talukas of Bhavnagar and nearby Rajula taluka is the natural habitat of the Asiatic lions which have been found loitering in the villages. In the area where the mining lease is given to Ultratech, lions and other migratory birds are spotted many times. This mining and heavy traffic activity will endanger the protected animal and birds.

Impact on a place of religious importance

A temple of the chief goddess of the Koli, Rajput and Maldhari communities is situated on the seashore at village Uncha Kotada where lakhs of people visit during the year, more so on Aaso and Chaitri Navratri and Diwali. The temple is just 1.5 km away from the mining site. The pilgrims to the temple will be subjected to the polluted air, many of whom would be elderly and children. Their health and safety will be thus compromised by the presence of the mining activity.

Gujarat: 'Asiatic lions not losing their hunting ability'

Nimesh Khakhariya | TNN | Updated: Jun 26, 2019, 9:02 IST
RAJKOT: The frequent killings of easily available domestic cattle by lions in villages of Saurashtra have often set off discussions that these wild cats could lose their hunting ability.
But the forest department desperately wants people to shed this notion. On Monday, the Amreli forest department tweeted a photograph of a lion cub sitting beside a nil gai (blue bull) that was injured in an attack by its mother. The photograph was clicked by some forest department staffer in Amreli taluka 10 days ago.
A view in greater Gir, wild with wild," the department posted along with the picture.

At a first glance, it looks like the lion cub had become weak and sitting beside its prey while the blue bull is not running to protect itself. However, officials said this was not the case at all.
A senior official of Amreli division, not wanting to be named, told TOI, "A lioness had hunted the blue bull and trained its two-month-old cub too which is seen sitting beside the prey. The lioness was nearby but could not captured in the frame. Blue bull's hind legs were broken because of the lioness attack and that's why it could not run."
"We have tweeted this picture to prove that lion's instinct to hunt herbivorous animal is maintained. A perception building in some quarters is that lions are preying more on domestic animals, which is not true."
The forest officials claimed that there is enough population of blue bull in outside protected area.
Priyavrat Gadhvi, a member of state wildlife board said, "It is true that availability of cattle is more in the non-protected areas and they are an easy prey for the lions. But that can't be constructed as weakening of their wild abilities."
"It's a case of opportunism or opportunistic preying. They are are no way losing their wild hunting abilities," he added.

‘Efforts being made to save Persian lion from extinction’

June 25, 2019
TEHRAN – Tehran Zoological Garden has developed plans for reproduction of endangered Asiatic lion, and the lion couple have been sent to the zoo for its great efforts to meet the defined standards, a veterinarian at Tehran’s Eram Zoo has said.
Disappeared for 80 years, Persian lion once prowled from the Middle East to India, while currently only a fraction of these magnificent animals survive in the wild, which range is restricted to the Gir National Park and environs in the Indian state of Gujarat.
A male Persian lion, born 6 years ago, was sent to Tehran Zoological Garden from Britain’s Bristol Zoo on May 1, under a population management program aiming at endangered species reproduction by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
Iran recently hosted a female lion of the same subspecies from Ireland to accompany the male lion through the conservation program.
The female lion now is being kept in the zoo and so far has met her male companion, Fars news agency quoted Iman Memarian as saying on Monday.
“We are trying to get the couple to get to know each other gradually until they get used to living together,” he further noted.
He went on to say that we have plans to reproduce endangered species and save them from extinction, and all the process is under control.
Considering that Persian lion is a symbol in Iran’s wildlife, many environment lovers were interested to see such valuable species but it disappeared due to uncontrolled hunting and lack of prey, he lamented, adding, therefore, we tried to show how important it is to preserve the wildlife by returning the lions back to their motherland.
During the past years, Tehran Zoological Garden has succeeded in becoming a member of EAZA, and the Asiatic lions have been transferred to the Zoo for captive breeding under the association’s supervision, he highlighted.
Two male lion siblings of the same subspecies were inhabiting in Houston city in Texas, United states, he stated, adding, one of them lost his life due to the physical problems, thus, the lion returned to Iran from Britain is the most valuable and healthy one.
Selling or buying animals in European zoos is banned, and the female lion was given to Iran because of our compliance with the EAZA standards, Memarian also highlighted.
Referring to the cost of keeping wild species, he said that lions feed on 10 to 15 kilograms of lamb and poultry daily, which are so expensive.
Criticizing the approaches claiming that zoos endanger wildlife species for their own interests, he said that some think that when an animal is in the cage, it is not feeling well at the moment, however, one should bear in mind that animals have different needs, all of which can be provided at standard zoos.
Previously, we needed to withdraw a blood sample from animals which caused them stress, but now we can test them through their feces and urine, he further stated.
Also, it is possible to measure the amount of hormones in the body through the urine and feces of animals, so researches show that the level of wildlife satisfaction in standard zoos is even higher than their level of satisfaction in nature, he added.
Lion is among the flagship species which is attractive to people, and because of them, smaller animals are known, so, we do our best to conserve the species in the country, Memarian concluded.
In conservation biology, a flagship species is chosen to stimulate people to provide money or support for biodiversity conservation in a given place or social context. The use of flagship species has been dominated by large bodied animals, especially mammals, like Asiatic cheetah.
Threats pushed Persian lions toward extinction
On the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, Asiatic lion is listed under its former scientific name Panthera leo persica as Endangered because of its small population size and area of occupancy.
Historical records in Iran indicate that the Asiatic lion ranged from the Khuzestan Plain to the Fars in steppe vegetation and pistachio-almond woodlands. It was widespread in the country, but in the 1870s, it was sighted only on the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains, and in the forest regions south of Shiraz.
Some of the country's last lions were sighted in 1941 between Shiraz and Jahrom in Fars province, and in 1942, a lion was spotted about 65 km northwest of Dezful. In 1944, the corpse of a lioness was found on the banks of Karun River in Khuzestan province.
Conflicts with humans, wildfires, poaching, habitat loss, canine distemper virus, decreases in population sizes of native ungulates were among the threats pushed the lions toward extinction in Iran, while lack of protection measures and plans is not deniable either.

Explained: Why Gujarat Forest Department is radio-collaring lions

25 Asiatic lions tagged with radio collars in Gir

Must shift rail tracks, shutdown quarries to save Gir lions: Guj HC told

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 
Shifting rail tracks out of the Gir forest and shutting down all stone quarries located around it are some of the steps suggested to save lions in a report submitted to the Gujarat High Court Thursday.
The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the forest spread across several Gujarat districts, is the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world.
The steps were suggested in the report submitted to the division bench of Justices S R Brahmbhatt and A P Thaker by senior advocate Hemang Shah, who was appointed amicus curiae in the matter by the HC last year when it admitted a PIL over the issue of death of Gir lions.
After taking into consideration the findings of the report, the bench asked the state government to file its reply and posted the matter for further hearing on July 11.
In his report, Shah pointed out that lions are being run over by trains which ply through the forest area.
He said at least 20 goods trains pass through the forest area and most of them run during night, a time when lions come out for hunting and try to cross the tracks.
Shah stated that a suggestion, made earlier by a lawyer, to construct elevated corridor for trains inside the forest, is not feasible.
Construction of such a structure would create noise and air pollution and eventually "drive lions out of the forest", the amicus curiae noted in his report.
"The only option is to shift the railway tracks out of the forest area and beyond the 10 km zone. These railway tracks are used for transporting containers to Pipavav Port (in Amreli district).
"Thus, commercial activity needs to take a back seat while ensuring complete protection of lions," the report said.
He suggested that trains on this route must be stopped during the night for the safety of lions.
Shah pointed out that though the Railway authorities had issued instructions to regulate the speed of the trains, they are still plying "at more than 60 km an hour".
Shah also suggested putting GPS-based radio collars on lions to keep a watch on their movements and alert the field staff whenever they come close to the tracks.
Expressing concern over the mining activity near Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary of the Gir forest, Shah said stone quarries are causing water and air pollution.
He said the owners of these quarries had not constructed protection walls to prevent lions from falling into deep pits dug up inside their premises.
"It is quite surprising as to how these entities have 'managed' to secure permissions and approvals. All such stone quarry sites should be closed down with immediate effect, irrespective of their permissions and approvals. All such approvals should be cancelled with immediate effect" the report said.
According to the 2015 census, there were 523 lions in the Gir forest.
The Gujarat government had last year claimed that their number had gone over 600.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Nine core issues affect lions in Gir: Hemang Shah

Earlier, the court had directed the stakeholders in the case to identify out issues that affect the conservation of lions and possible solutions.

Updated: Jun 21, 2019, 06:20 AM IST Acting on a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) questioning the rampant lion details, amicus curiae Hemang Shah on Thursday filed a report pointing out the issues affecting Asiatic Lion population in the Gir region. Shah has pointed out 9 core issues, which according to him needs to be taken into consideration by the court as well as the state government so as to ensure the safety of lions.
lionsThe core issues include open wells, railway tracks and trains passing through the forest area, illegal electric fencing of farms by farmers in the region, roads passing through the forest, mining and excavation going in the area, illegal lion shows, appointment of trackers and forest guards to keep track of lions, maintaining food chain and water, and radio collaring of every lion and connecting them with GPS.
Earlier, the court had directed the stakeholders in the case to identify out issues that affect the conservation of lions and possible solutions. It was contemplated by the court that whether an elevated corridor for railways will reduce lion deaths, or not.
Shah informed the court that the elevated corridor is not feasible as for constructing the elevated corridor, pillars will have to be erected for which excavation will have to be carried out. He said the construction activity will be detrimental to the lion population. The court also inquired about the same from counsel for railways Ramnandan Singh, who also submitted that elevated corridor is not feasible.
Shah also submitted that the mining activities going on in the area is also detrimental to the lion population as explosives are used by stone quarries. It was also pointed out that the stone quarries after excavation leaves huge pits and lions may fall into it and die. He said it was "surprising" how these stone quarries get license and that these should be immediately closed down.
Following the submissions, the court has directed the state government to file its reply to the report and scheduled the next hearing on July 11.


Down in Jungleland: The Passing of a Species

Shankar Bennur MYSURU, June 15, 2019 00:50 IST
A file photo of the lions at Mysuru zoo.  

Sakkarbaug zoo in Gujarat is giving two pairs under an exchange scheme

The century-old Mysuru zoo will will soon be getting four young Asiatic lions from Gujarat.
The Sakkarbaug zoo, a conservation centre for the endangered Asiatic lions, has come forward to give the two pairs of carnivores in return for a pair of hippopotamuses, and Indian gaurs (one male and two females).
The Asiatic lions, listed as an endangered species, live only in the wild in Gir forest in Gujarat.
The Sakkarbaug zoo has bred many lions in captivity and released them into the Gir forest to increase their numbers. It has also given the lions to other Indian zoos under exchange programmes.
A delegation from Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) went to Ahmedabad to formally receive a letter on the exchange of animals from the Gujarat government. The team visited Sakkarbaug to see the lions that are going to be exchanged.
Mysuru Zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni, who received the letter from authorities, told The Hindu from Ahmedabad that the exchange will boost the zoo’s captive breeding plans and also add attraction to the visitors.
“We will work out the logistics on bringing the animals to Mysuru. It will take sometime and we will finish all formalities by then,” he said.
The Mysuru zoo received a pair of lions from the Sakkarbaug zoo under the exchange programme a few years ago. Gowri, a lioness, suffered a health problem and did not recover fully despite constant treatment. She delivered a cub, which died sometime later. Gowri has been kept off display and is housed in an enclosure at the zoo’s hospital.
Only a few Asiatic lions are left both in the wild and in captivity since their breeding in captive conditions has been considered a big challenge.
Mysuru zoo housed Asiatic lions three decades ago. They could not breed. It had in its collection cross-bred lions before it was successful in getting an Asiatic lion pair from Sakkarbaug.

Lion Safari in Gir forest, to close for four months

Sasan Gir (Gujarat), Jun 15 (UNI) Lion Safari in Gir forest, meant for tourist activities, will be closed for four months from Sunday, a senior forest official of the sanctuary said here on Saturday.
It is closed every year for four months during monsoon, as per the provisions of the Wildlife Act 1972, to provide safe environment to the lions and other wild animals during their mating season in Monsoon period.
The forest will reopen on October 16.
The sanctuary, which is a part of the Gir forest and spread in Gir-Somnath, Junagadh and Amreli districts, also closes for visitors every year, from June 16 to October 15.
''The practice is followed, because the monsoon period is the mating season for lions, leopards and many other wild animals and birds'', he said.
The five-yearly Lion Census conducted last time in May, 2015, had estimated the population of Asiatic lions at 523 (27 per cent up, compared to previous census in 2010).
The population was 411 in 2010 and 359 in 2005. As per the 2015 census, the population of lions in Junagadh district was 268, Gir Somnath 44, Amreli District 174 (highest increase) and in adjoining Bhavangar District was 37. Of them 109 were males, 201 females and 213 cubs.
During the closure period, the forest department also conducts various operations in the national park, including locating any stray new born cub and rescuing it.


Mayor JMC visits Jambu Zoo Site

The Mayor was given a brief introduction about the construction work being carried out in the project amounting to Rs 121.00 crore being developed by State Forest Department. The project covers an area about 227 hectares. various activities which will be being carried out in the zoo are water reservoir, leopard closures, fencing, circular restaurant, public amenities etc. The plantation of trees and ornamental plants is being done by the department on war footing.

Jammu: Continuing his drive to provide better development activities and to give a boost to tourism in Jammu region, Mayor Jammu Municipal Corporation,  Chander Mohan Gupta alongwith Divisional forest officer wildlife, Amit Sharma and Anil Gupta AEE /Nodal Officer to Mayor JMC today visited the Jambu Zoo at Jagti Nagotra.
The Mayor was informed that the main attraction in Jambu Zoo is going to Asiatic Lion, Royal Bengal tiger, Black Beer, Marsh Crocodile, Black bugs and many more animals.

Vayu brings Gujarat on high alert: Citizens on tenterhooks as a 1998 cyclone took 10,000 lives

Gujrat on hig aler, Cyclone Vayu, Cyclone in Gujrat
Image Courtesy: Moneycontrol

IMD warns Cyclone Vayu can cause substantial damage even without hitting the ground, asks citizens to remain alert
by Web Team
June 13, 2019

It is a major relief for millions of people in Gujarat as severe Cyclone Vayu which was set to make landfall on Thursday along the Gujarat coast, has changed its course and moved into the sea. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Cyclone Vayu has changed its trajectory overnight and is now moving further into the sea. However, it has warned that the cyclone can cause substantial damage even without hitting the ground, asks citizens to remain alert. In spite of this, the region will experience the effect of strong winds and heavy rains. In 1998, a severe cyclone had killed 10,000 people and over 11,000 animals in Gujarat. It had damaged the port city of Kandla.
It is worth mentioning that Cyclone Vayu is the second deadliest cyclone to hit the state since 1998 that had ravaged port town Kandla killing 1,241 persons. This is also the second severe cyclonic storm to hit the country this year.  Earlier in May the eastern coast of India was hit by Cyclone Fani, leaving a trail of destruction in Odisha. Cyclonic storm Fani left 64 persons dead and at least 241 people injured last month. The worst-hit Puri and Khurda districts of the state are yet struggling to come back on the track.
The secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences M Rajeevan told PTI, “Cyclone Vayu may not make landfall. It will only skirt the coast. It has made a small deviation. But, its effect will be there with strong winds and heavy rain,”
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) tweeted, “ Cyclone ‘VAYU’ over the Arabian Sea at 0530 hrs IST of today, the 13th June 2019  about 150 km south-southwest of Diu, 110 km southwest of Veraval (Gujarat) & 150 km south of Porbandar (Gujarat).To skirt Saurashtra coast with wind speed 135-145 kmph from today afternoon.”
Gujarat is still on alert. Nearly 3 lakh people from low-lying areas had already been evacuated and shifted to safer locations before the arrival of the cyclone. The Indian Army, Navy, and NDRF were put on standby for any emergencies. They continue to be on alert even after the threat of the cyclone has reduced.
Meanwhile, flight operations from Ahmedabad to Porbandar, Diu, Kandla, Mundra, and Bhavnagar, continued to remain cancelled for Thursday. Many trains are also cancelled.
Prior to this, the 1998 Gujarat cyclone was a deadly tropical cyclone that killed at least 10,000 people in India. It made landfall on June 4, 1998, and dissipated on June 10, 1998. Over 11,000 animals were killed. Over 162,000 structures were damaged or destroyed throughout the affected area and damages amounted to Rs 120 billion.

The 2015 Gujarat cyclone, officially referred to as Deep Depression ARB 02, brought heavy rains to Gujarat in June 2015. It made landfall on 22 June 2015 and dissipated on 24 June 2015. Following heavy rains, Gujarat was affected by floods. The flood is also known as the June 2015 Gujarat flood or 2015 Amreli flood. The floods resulted in at least 81 deaths. The wildlife of Gir Forest National Park and the adjoining area was also affected. The Gir Forest National Park and adjoining area housing Asiatic lions, an endangered species with only 523 living individuals documented in May 2015, was severely affected. The carcasses of 10 lions, 1670 Nilgai, 87 spotted deer, nine black bucks, six wild boars and some porcupines were also recovered.
In 2017, very severe cyclonic storm Ockhi devastated parts of Sri Lanka and India. In its entirety, Cyclone Ockhi left a trail of massive destruction in Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep, South India, and The Maldives, as it strengthened from a depression to a mature cyclone. Though it rapidly weakened during its final stages over the Arabian Sea, it caused heavy rainfall along the western coast of India, particularly in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Ockhi caused at least 245 fatalities, including 218 in India and 27 in Sri Lanka, and the storm left at least 550 people missing, mainly fishermen.
Gujarat in constant touch with Odisha
The Gujarat government is in constant touch with Odisha in view of the eastern state’s successful handing of similar calamities like cyclone Fani in May this year and cyclone Titli last year. According to sources, Gujarat chief secretary JN Singh called up his Odisha counterpart AP Padhi and sought Odisha’s advice on how to tackle the cyclonic storm on a war-footing. Padhi said, “Gujarat chief secretary had called me up and discussed the measures to be taken ahead of the landfall. We have offered all kind of help to Gujarat. However, the Gujarat chief secretary has said that they will seek further help if required keeping the situation in view.” The Odisha government offered all help to Gujarat, which has launched a massive evacuation exercise to shift people from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions.
Here is a list of Dos and Donts to keep people safe and alert during the tough times.

Big Cats of India


Besides Project Tiger, our achievements were also possible because wildlife conservation is deep rooted in the Indian culture and tradition
India, a mega-biodiversity country with diverse climate and natural habitats in the world, is the last hope for the survival of several mega-mammals, including big cats on planet Earth. Of the seven big cats — lion, tiger, jaguar, puma (mountain lion), common leopard, snow leopard and cheetah (hunting leopard), five were found in India. But one of them — hunting leopard — exterminated from the Indian sub-continent in the early 1950s. Clouded leopard, a cat occurring in the north-east of India, is also considered a big cat by some naturalists but it falls slightly short of the minimum size of the big cat as its average weight is just below 20 kg.
India’s wildlife richness is incomparable in the world. It were the invaders, who brought a culture of reckless hunting, impacting the abundance of mega-mammals. According to official records, over 80,000 tigers, more than 150,000 leopards and 200,000 wolves were slaughtered between 1875 and 1925. About 300 lions were hunted around Delhi during 1957-58 a few years after independence. All four big cats have disappeared from their previous habitats in Asia or are surviving in restricted habitats in small numbers. But their story in India is different. Their survival depends on their conservation here in India where they still have viable populations despite high human population.
The Asiatic lion, which had extensive distribution in West Asia to India, has a restricted population in the Gir forests in Gujarat. They disappeared from the northern and western parts of the country. At present, over two-thirds of the global population of the tiger is found in 17 States in India. The number of other sub-species of the tiger in other countries in Asia is very small and none of them has over 500 individuals. Similarly, out of about 20,000 Asiatic leopards in about two and half dozen countries in Asia at present, 15,000- 16,000 individual leopards are estimated in India alone. Status of snow leopard is not known but there is no sign of any significant decline of its number in high altitudes of the Himalayas.
Occasionally, scientists and conservationists played the numbergame by providing population figures which suited to their academic greatness. Some of the figures quoted by naturalists and referred in the scientific documents and papers are far from the truth. Hence, the history of these big cats needs to be renewed. For example, the Nawab of Junagadh and some naturalists quoted about dozen remnant numbers of the Asiatic lion in the beginning of the 20th century. It has also been quoted in all scientific literature. If Asiatic lion’s number was one dozen in the first or second decade of the 20th century, then how could it reach to 287 individuals in the first Asiatic lion census in 1936? Annual hunting records also denied the low figure. In fact, logically, the Asiatic lion population never dropped below 50 during its entire history. Scientists and naturalists presented distorted and wrong history of this species. The present number of over 600 lions, perhaps over 700 as locals believe, is a healthy population spreading in four districts, although the threat from epidemic disease is high due to increased predation on domestic livestock, dogs and domestic animal carcasses. Loss of habitats outside the Protected Areas is also a matter of concern. The lion conservation landscape in Junagadh, Amreli, Gir-Somanath and Bhavnagar support about 1,300 big cats (over 600 lions and over 650 leopards). The numbers suggest human-wildlife conflict is a matter of concern.
Future of the tiger also lies in India. Although its habitat and distribution shrunk in the country, it is still found in about 90,000 sq km area in 17 States. In the past, some naturalists quoted a figure of 40,000 individual tigers in India at the beginning of the 20th century. This figure, too, has no scientific basis. After the declaration of Project Tiger, the population of this big cat was estimated over 1,800 individuals, which increased consistently and doubled in three decades. A reverse trend started due to massive poaching, after the success of its conservation. The camera image trap method for tiger counting in 2006 quoted a population of 1,411 individual tigers in India. Naturalists played the numbergame again. They publicised a decline by half. There was over-reporting of the number of tigers by some States using the pugmark method of counting, but the decline was not as drastic as highlighted by non-field conservationists.
Undoubtedly, the disappearance of tiger from four reserves, including Panna and Sariska, was a conservation blunder. The hullaballoo that followed resulted in the birth of National Tiger Conservation Authority. In 2006, tigers were never counted in Jharkhand, Sundarbans and North-East of India, Naxalite affected areas and also other forests area where few nomadic tigers occurred. Also, only sub-adult and adult-tigers were counted and cubs below one and half years, which constitute about 30 to 35 per cent of the population, were not accounted.
The numbers were again wrongly put. If all these are accounted logically, tiger population, including cubs, was not below 2,000 individuals in 2006. In 2014, the number of sub-adult and adult tiger was about 2,230 individuals, which was about 65 per cent of the global tiger population. With cubs, the number was perhaps about 2,800-2,900 individuals. Initial survey in 2018 revealed that the number has gone up due to strict protection measures India’s tiger habitats can support about 3,000 individuals of sub-adult and adult tigers. With growing human and industrial pressure in the previous habitats and around the tiger reserves, protection of dispersing tiger is difficult.
Leopard, a versatile cat, has very high adaptive capacity. Its population was never estimated accurately due to the concealing behaviour of the smart cat. The surveys of this cat in different States reveal that about 15 per cent to 20 per cent leopards are found outside the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and forests. The tea gardens, sugarcane fields, ravines and agricultural fields have become habitats for the leopards. Expanding irrigation network turned beneficial to this cat. In 1964, EP Gee, a known wildlifer, quoted a figure of 6,000 to 7,000 leopards in India. He also mentioned that the number was 10 times in the beginning of the 20th century. This figure is quoted in all scientific documents. However, even with advanced technology, wildlife managers failed to estimate its accurate population. So, how could a naturalist guess a population of 6,000-7,000 leopards in 1960s? Recently, a conservation organisation in collaboration with Karnataka Forest Department projected an unbelievable population of 2,500 leopards in Karnataka. As per the recent reports, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka each has an estimated leopard population of over 2,000 individuals. Gujarat and Chhattisgarh each has over 1,000 leopards. Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha have over 500 or nearly 1,000 leopards. Leopard occurs in 29 States and one Union Territory and its present population is estimated about 15,000-16,000 in the country. Although leopard presence is in over two and half dozen countries in Asia, none has above 1,000 of the species. Only Iran has nearly 1,000. It is, thus, a matter of great pride that about three-fourth of the total Asiatic leopard survives in India.
Conservation achievements of these big cats were possible because wildlife conservation is deep rooted in the Indian culture and tradition. Indian mythology, ancient art, literature, folk lore, religion, rock edicts and scriptures, all provide ample proof that wildlife enjoyed a privileged position in India’s ancient past. Kautilya’s Arthashastra, a book written in the third century BCE, reveals the attention focussed on wildlife in the Mauryan period: Certain forests were declared protected and called Abhayaranya like the present day ‘sanctuary’. Heavy penalties, including capital punishment, were prescribed for offenders who entrapped or killed elephants, deer, bison, birds, or fish, among other animals. Lord Mahavir Jain, Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi always advocated Ahimsa towards living creatures.
The ashrams of rishis, which were sites of learning in the forests, were frequently visited by the animals. The Vedas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Arthashastra and the Panchtantra are among the many texts of ancient India that deal with the influence of forests and wildlife on human society. Ashoka, the most powerful monarchs, who put lions at the top of rock pillar, was a staunch wildlife conservationist.
Another key factor for survival of carnivores in India is never considered in analysis. About 524 million livestock in India provide major food to carnivores such as big cats, canines, hyena, small carnivores and raptors. Nearly half of the food for lions comes from hunting of domestic animals or their carcasses. Leopard is largely dependent on dogs, sheep, goats, poultry, other domestic animals and their carcasses. The tigers also extract substantial food from livestock abundantly available around the Tiger Reserves.
(The writer is Member, National Board for Wildlife)

Gujarat: New forest division created for lions

Himanshu Kaushik | TNN | Updated: Jun 11, 2019, 5:42 IST
AHMEDABAD: After the canine distemper virus ravaged the Dalkhaniya range in Dhari in 2018 — killing 29 lions — the state government announced that it will create the separate division of Shetrunji to cover the wandering lion population in Bhavnagar, Amreli, Gir-Somanth, and parts of Botad. The forest department on Monday carved out the separate division which will have the same powers as the forest division of Sasan Gir. The new division, with a dedicated staff of 400, will help officials offer better care to lions and their habitat. The division will be served by 104 new posts, including deputy conservator of forests, two assistant conservator of forests, and seven range forest officers.
A senior forest officer said that over the past two years, more than 2,300 wild animals have been rescued and the majority of them were from outside protected areas. Seven wildlife rescue centres are being set up —including in Amreli, Gir-Somnath, Junagadh, and Jamnagar districts.
Gujarat government announced that it will create the separate division of Shetrunji to cover the wandering lio...Read MoreAHMEDABAD: After the canine distemper virus ravaged the Dalkhaniya range in Dhari in 2018 — killing 29 lions — the state government announced that it will create the separate division of Shetrunji to cover the wandering lion population in Bhavnagar, Amreli, Gir-Somanth, and parts of Botad. The forest department on Monday carved out the separate division which will have the same powers as the forest division of Sasan Gir. The new division, with a dedicated staff of 400, will help officials offer better care to lions and their habitat. The division will be served by 104 new posts, including deputy conservator of forests, two assistant conservator of forests, and seven range forest officers.
A senior forest officer said that over the past two years, more than 2,300 wild animals have been rescued and the majority of them were from outside protected areas. Seven wildlife rescue centres are being set up —including in Amreli, Gir-Somnath, Junagadh, and Jamnagar districts.
The division will comprise seven ranges, including Rajula, Jafarabad, Liliya, Mahuva, Jesar, Palitana and Talaja. The officer said that with the appointment of 400 field officers, tracking the movement of lions and controlling illegal activities — such as lion shows — will become easy.
The official pointed out that the proposal to establish a new division was first moved when Bharat Pathak was the chief conservator of forests in Sasan. “He had sensed that the lion population was growing and to control human-animal conflicts it was necessary to have a second division in Shetrunji,” the official said. However, the proposal had been gathering dust since 2010.
Officials said that the new division will cater to the population equivalent to that handled by the Sasan division. A recent count had suggested that the lion population was 700. Gir and the protected sanctuary can accommodate only 350-odd lions. The remaining move across the unprotected areas of Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir-Somnath, Rajkot, and Botad.

36 quarantined lions may never be freed in the wild

Himanshu Kaushik | TNN | Updated: Jun 11, 2019, 8:26 IST
SASAN GIR: The 36 Asiatic lions that have been quarantined for eight months following the canine distemper virus (CDV) outbreak will never be released into the wild, according to forest department officials.
Apparently, department's experts believe these big cats can contract the disease again and become carriers of the virus thus putting other lions at risk. Therefore, in the first week of May, the state forest department decided to indefinitely extend captivity of the lions.
However, Y V Jhala, a lion expert from the Wildlife Institute of India, said, "All the 36 Asiatic lions are immune to CDV as they have been vaccinated, and hence the fear that they may become agents for another round of CDV outbreak is unwarranted." Jhala added, "I don't see any reason why they should be kept in confinement."
Release of lions: Forest department to take a call
"We are not aware about the government's decision, nor have they contacted us," he said. The CDV outbreak had occurred between September last week and October first week in 2018 leading to deaths of 29 lions. Soon after the outbreak, these 36 Asiatic lions from Sarasia Virdi and Semadi Naka in Dhalkhaniya Range were quarantined and put in special enclosures in Devalia and Sakarbaugh interpretation parks .
Additional chief secretary environment and forest, Rajiv Gupta, told TOI, "Right now, all the 36 lions are at various interpretation zones. They have been vaccinated and remain healthy. Whether these animals are to be released into the wild or not is a call forest officials have to take."
A senior expert said, "These lions are now used to easy food. Once they are released, their immunity may drop again, as they may not hunt much and be vulnerable to CDV. This will put other lions in proximity to them at risk."
He also warned that the lions may even turn into man-eaters if they starve.

Gujarat: Vujay Rupani launches ambulance for lions, other animals in Gir

Guj CM reviews Rs 350 cr lion conservation project in Gir

 Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday reviewed the progress of state government's Rs 350 crore lion conservation project launched in November last year after more than 15 big cats died in Gir forest.
Rupani held a meeting at Sasan-Gir with senior forest officials and asked them to expedite the implementation of the project.
The project includes setting up of a dedicated hospital for lions, a research centre, purchasing drones and radio collars for better surveillance, a quarantine facility, a vaccine centre, apart from comprehensive training modules for forest staff, a state government release said.
During his visit to the Gir National Park in Sasan in Junagadh Tuesday, Rupani visited the animal care and rescue centre and also flagged off a ambulance to tend to injured or ill lions, it added.
The Gujarat CM also suggested that forest staff use electric vehicles instead of petrol or diesel ones for ferrying tourists inside the national park, it said.
Giving details about the animal exchange programme with other states, Rupani said various zoos in Gujarat will get 142 rare wild animals from other states in exchange for 30 lions, the release added.

Forest department to put high-tech radio-collars on 100 lions

Himanshu Kaushik | TNN | Updated: Jun 12, 2019, 11:26 IST
SASAN GIR: Since 1971, no more than 30 lions have been radio-collared for research, but following the CDV virus outbreak in September-October, the state government has begun radio-collaring some 44 wild lions, the number to be covered in the first phase of this project. The second phase will cover 56 lions.
“This is the first time lions are being radio-collared on such a scale. Such a large number of wild animals have never been radio-collared by any agency, let alone big cats,” said Dhiraj Mittal, DCF Dhari West, who is coordinating the project.

Wildlife Institue of India big-cat expert and Project Tiger member Y V Jhala said, “This is the first time that the Gujarat Forest department on its own is tagging lions. Such large scale tagging has not been taken even for tigers.”
Mittal said, “The decision to tag lions was taken to monitor their movements in areas where they are in regular contact with humans. The tagging will also help in disease surveillance. Among big cats, when an animal is sick it goes into hiding or isolation. This will immediately allow the monitoring team to know that the animal has been at one place for a couple of days and a lion ambulance or rescue team can be rushed to the spot.”
According to foresters, tagging one lioness or lion will also help monitor the movement of a full pride, as the entire group moves together. Thus, radio-collaring 100-odd lions would mean keeping an eye on 500 animals.
Monitoring from a control room will give information about how much the lion has moved or whether it has made an area its permanent home. The data will also provide an idea of whether the animal keeps coming to the Gir sanctuary or not.

It’s a jungle out there as animal attacks rise

Bhavabhai Bhurabhai Rabari, a resident of Balundra in Banaskantha, was watering his field when he claims to have been attacked from behind by a mother sloth bear accompanied by cubs. Bhavabhai was hospitalized with severe injuries on his head. It seems the scent of water drew the thirsty animals to Bhavabhai.
Sarubhai Rabari, brother of Bhavabhai, says, "The sloth bear attacked only for water, as borewell water was flowing on the field when the attack took place."
Foresters say the conflicts between humans and sloth bears have gone up as the animals are increasingly venturing outside the sanctuary. There have been at least four sloth bear attacks on people near the Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary area in last 30 days.
Not just sloth bears but even Asiatic lions and wild ass are venturing near human settlements in search of water, say farmers and villagers living near sanctuaries.
Aquatic and amphibian animals are of course the worst affected. At least 10-odd crocodile rescues have been reported from Kodinar taluka, where crocodiles from the Singhoda River are often seen venturing onto revenue land in search of water.
Some experts and villagers feel that due to inadequate rainfall in Gujarat, and especially in Banaskantha, for the last two years, the sloth sanctuary is suffering from lack of food and water, thus forcing the animals to venture out. Artificial ponds have been created inside the sanctuary as waterholes, but they seem inadequate.
Maganbhai Prajapati, former sarpanch of Balundra village, says, "As the sun sets, one can see heightened activity of sloth bears in villages near the sanctuary."
Sloth bear sightings, however, have currently gone down after villagers pressurized the administration to fill the watering holes regularly inside the sanctuary.
"Following four attacks in a month in Hariyawada, Deri and Balundra village, outcry from the villagers pressurized the administration to send one water tanker regularly to fill the waterholes. As a result, the sightings of sloth bears near human settlements have gone down," Prajapati added.
Another sarpanch, who refused to be named, said, "There have been attacks on 25-odd people in the Amirgadh taluka. The lack of water inside the sanctuary was drawing these animals out and bringing them into direct conflict with humans."
H S Singh, Member of the National Board for Wildlife, said, "In years where there is less rainfall, there is always shortage of food and water and wild animals move out of sanctuary.
Only lack of water can’t be blamed
Ganga Sharan Singh, deputy conservator of forests, Banaskantha wildlife division says, "We have adequate waterholes in the sanctuary and sloth bears venturing out of the sanctuary in search of water is a rare possibility." Singh said there are adequate waterholes in the sanctuary that are regularly filled. N P S Chauhan, the director of Institute of forest and wildlife of a private university, agrees with the view of foresters. "It may not be appropriate to say that these bears move out of the sanctuary only for water. There are several factors which may influence them," Chauhan said.
Leaving sanctuary for better food
In dry climate termites and ants decrease in the sanctuary. Moreover, in the nearby fields there are beehives, the favourite food of bears, " said G S Singh, DCF, Banaskantha. "Bears trying to rob honey may come across tribal farmers sleeping in fields at night and attacks may happen," he said. H S Singh said, "Cattle grazing in the sanctuary increases in drought years disturbing sloth bears. Moreover, mahuva flower and fruit, as also honey draws them out."
Conflict possible along natural corridors
MM Sharma, in-charge principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) says, "There are sufficient waterholes in the sanctuaries and it is a popular myth animals move out of sanctuaries in search of food." Sharma said, "They come into conflict with humans while moving along their natural corridor." He added, "The sanctuary, in case of sloth bear is fragmented and there are fields in between these sanctuaries. Hence when an animal moves from one area to another such incidents take place." N P S Chauhan said, "There are natural corridors and sloth bears are known to explore new areas to survive."
Attacks rise after droughts
HS Singh, Member of the National Board for Wildlife, said that in case of big cats including lions, man-animal conflicts increased when after severe droughts rain arrived. After a drought in 1987-88 there were 125 attacks on humans and 20 men and women were killed. Similarly in 1901-03, when there were droughts, 64 human deaths were reported from man-animal conflicts.
Enough waterholes in lion sanctuaries
DT Vasavada, chief conservator of forests, says "In case of lions we have over 450 watering points which is sufficient. These points are filled daily and any case of lions venturing out for water is not possible." Kathi Raj, a resident of Liliya in the lion belt, says that the sightings of lions outside the sanctuary are increasing and these were mainly happening in fields where there was water. There are three to four videos daily going viral of lion groups in the fields, he said. A sarpanch of a village on the outskirts of Gir sanctuary says: "The department has adequate waterholes in the sanctuary, but lions roam across a territory that stretches till Palitana and Porbandar." He added, "In revenue areas of lion territory, there are few waterholes and lions move into agricultural fields in search of water." He added that farmers are filling field troughs with water to lure lions, as once a big cat family finds water regularly in an area, they try to settle down there.

Two Leopards Die After Being Electrocuted by Transformers Near Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

Forest department officials said that in both cases the leopards had gotten trapped by the electric transformers as they were chasing their prey.

Vijaysinh Parmar | News18
Updated:June 7, 2019, 2:20 PM ISTAhmedabad: Two leopards died after being electrocuted in two separate incidents in the last two days near Gujarat's Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.
According to forest department officials, in both cases, the leopards got trapped by the electric transformers as they were chasing their prey.
On Friday morning, a 4-year-old female leopard was found dead with its corpse stuck to the electric transformer at a farm in Junagadh district’s Talala village.
The incident reportedly took place in Talala Forest Range of the Western Division of the Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Primary report suggests that leopard died of electrocution. All the nails were found from the animal’s body. We sent wild cat’s carcass for post mortem for further probe,’’ a forest official said.
Earlier on June 6, an 8-year-old female leopard was found dead with its carcass also stuck to an electric transformer in a farm in Vangdhra village in the Eastern Division’s Tulsishyam forest Range.
Forest officials said that the leopard died due to electrocution. “It seems that the leopard may have been trapped by the electric transformer while chasing his prey and died after being electrocuted,’’ an official said.
Such incidents of leopards dying of electrocution are a regular occurrence at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and safety measures regarding electric transformers are not taken to avert these accidental deaths.
The last abode of the Asiatic lion in the world, the Sanctuary has 1395 leopards as per the 2016 census data.

Girjai adivasis take the green pledge

ADILABAD, June 06, 2019 00:41 IST
Updated: June 06, 2019 00:41 IST

Vow to protect forest on two hillocks near their village on World Environment Day

Adivasis of Girjai, a village in Bazarhatnoor mandal where Naxalites had settled in the early 1980s by illegally clearing the forest, have vowed to protect the forest on two hillocks near their village. The hillocks encompassing about 1,000 acres will now be free of biotic pressures as grazing will be banned, ensuring natural regeneration of degraded vegetation on them.
The district forest department, which is helping the village in development, had Raj Gond villagers take an oath in this regard on World Environment Day on Wednesday. “We would have wanted the villagers to take up plantation in the forest but availability of water was a constraint,” said District Forest Officer B. Prabhakar.
During a visit by the DFO on Tuesday, villagers sought an open well, a check dam and uninterrupted three-phase power supply to strengthen agriculture. They agreed to plant teak trees on the bunds of their fields as the species survives extreme summers.
“They have given us a list of types of fruit-bearing trees for homestead plantation. We are making an estimate of costs,” he added.

African or Asiatic? DNA tests to decode origin of lion cub

TNN | Updated: Jun 5, 2019, 11:38 IST
 KOLKATA: The Alipore Zoological Gardens officials have decided to go for a DNA test of the lion cub, rescued from a car on Belghoria Expressway early on Saturday, to find its origin — whether it’s an African or Asiatic.

Member secretary of state zoo authority, V K Yadav, said they have held a meeting with Zoological Survey of India officials. “The meeting was held on Tuesday and ZSI officials may visit the zoo soon to collect the DNA samples of the three-month-old male lion cub,” added Yadav.
Mukesh Thakur, Scientist ‘C’ at ZSI, told TOI he would visit the zoo next week to collect the samples. “The DNA tests can be carried out through faeces samples. If the lion cub is healthy, then we can also collect its blood or fur for the tests. The results will be available in another two weeks,” Thakur added. According to him, if it turns out to be an Asiatic lion, then more details can be found out from the tests.
“We have a single population of Asiatic lion in Gujarat’s Gir and their DNA database is available online. If it’s an Asiatic lion cub, then the DNA tests can also reveal whether it was born in the wild or bred in any zoo,” he added.
A committee with zoo vets has been formed that will take a call on the surgery of the tail of a white-headed langur, also rescued the same day. “It’s tail is infected. The panel will check and decide whether it needs to be amputated,” said Yadav.
The forest department on Tuesday filed a petition, seeking cancellation of bail of three accused, before the vacation bench of Justice Shampa Sarkar. It will be heard on June 6. State’s chief wildlife warden Ravi Kant Sinha said: “I am not aware of today’s developments, but the process to file the application was on.”
The lion cub, along with two white-headed langurs, considered ‘critically endangered’, and a Javan lutung, a ‘vulnerable’ species, were found from nylon bags inside an SUV on Belghoria Expressway in the early hours of Saturday. Three persons arrested in this connection were later granted bail after their production in a Barrackpore court the same day.
Officials suspect that the prime accused, name of whom the forest department has refused to divulge, might leave the country.