Saturday, August 31, 2019

Officials’ transfer discussed in HC

Officials’ transfer discussed in HC
Gir is the only natural habitat of world-famous Asiatic lions
The transfer of senior officials, who worked hard in controlling the spread of Canine Distemper Virus in Gir last year, to handle projects at Statue of Unity was discussed in Gujarat High Court during the hearing of a suo moto petition over unnatural lion deaths in Gir.

The court-appointed amicus curiae Hemang Shah quoted Mirror’s report ‘Is govt ignoring Gujarat’s ‘pride’ for SoU projects?’ (AM, Jan 26) during the hearing on Monday. He raised concern regarding the transfer of officials, who tackled CDV that claimed lives of 30 lions in Gir last year, being given charge of setting up jungle safari and animal park at State of Unity by October.

Mirror had reported how the state government was rushing to finish the projects before its inauguration in October. And for this, it has transferred the senior forest officials to SoU to get the projects ready in time.

Gir is the only natural habitat of world-famous Asiatic lions. A CDV outbreak in Dalkhaniya range made news after it ended up killing at least 30 lions between September and December last year. However, with five lion deaths reported since June 27 this year, experts and environmentalists believe the state government should not have transferred all officials experienced with CDV as they are needed to monitor the situation in Gir to prevent another outbreak.

During the hearing, the forest department submitted report on the work done so far for conservation of lions. Later, the forest officers went on social media to justify their efforts towards lion conservation.

Confirming this, Additional Advocate General P K Jani said, “The amicus curiae raised the issue but it was neither part of any official record nor substantiated by supportive documents.

I have submitted to the court that the government is taking world-class efforts to conserve the lions. We have filed an exhaustive affidavit in the court about steps taken. We have assured the court that more efforts will be made if required.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent ‘Mann Ki Baat’ – a radio talk show --aired on Sunday claimed that the lion population has been increasing since he took charge as chief minister of Gujarat.

To this, Gujarat Congress chief spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “It is not true that the lion population started increasing only after he came to power. Its population never declined after lion population estimation of 1968.” The population estimation is conducted scientifically every 5 years. Doshi added, “The complete report of lion population is available on the website of the Forest department. The government has not shown seriousness to the subject as required. There is a threat to the lion population due to several activities like illegal lion show, illegal forest-dwellers and illegal mining.”


Please appreciate the steps taken for conservation of lion by the Govt..Radio callering,Tablets to field staff,cctv , dron, e-eye, creation of new Shetrunji wildlife division

Conservation of Gujarat’s pride (Gir Lions) is F.D.’s priority & recently many steps (technology intervention, veterinary care, strengthening of conservation efforts & infrastructure, etc.) has been taken to conserve the Gir Ecosystem

Do u knw tht last year’s CDV outbreak control was exceptional since 95% of lion population in Gorongoro crater was wiped out by similar disease outbreak in 1990s. Pl be balanced & adopt attitude of giving credit rather always criticising.

It can never be the case! Lion conservation is the only priority. All facets of conservation i.e. habitat improvement & management, health monitoring & protection are being taken care.

Please do balanced reporting. Strengthening of existing present 9 rescue Centers and 3 more rescue centers will be established. Further, to avoid man animal conflict 33 Rapid Response Team and 10 Rescue Team are established

@conserve GIR
“birth n deaths of lions r natural”. If deaths are natural irrespective of causes thn what is stopping you from releasing 29 healthy vaccinated lions?? first of all why thy were vaccinated If death a natural process ? @GujForestDept U undone ur image by cruely confining ths lions..

Forest department Promised before 1yr , we will make 24×7 Helpline for Lion conservation. We are still waiting for that number. Pls let us know if u make any helpline.

@DCF_GirWest u dint even take my challenge whn i said tht the Lion nos r far less in ur division thnnin 2015.. Just hve the guts to cme out in open and accet the shortfalls and acknowledge the inaptness of the management in #Lion deaths.. #shame

Prerna Singh Bindra gave up a lucrative career as an economist to fight for the wild

Previously: Economist; Currently: Author and conservationist

134 booked for illegal lion shows in 4 years

134 booked for illegal lion shows in 4 years
As many as 40 offences of conducting illegal lion shows in Gir National Park have been registered against 134 individuals in last four years, the state forest department stated in its action taken report (ATR) submitted to the Gujarat High Court. Trial against 44 offenders in 10 cases has already begun in the trial court, the report added.

The report was submitted by Jayan Patel, assistant conservator of forest, Wildlife Circle-Junagadh, in HC during the hearing of a suo motu petition over unnatural deaths in Gir sanctuary area in Saurashtra. The court has appointed advocate Hemang Shah as amicus curiae to look into the issue. During the previous hearing, he had submitted a series of suggestions to prevent unnatural deaths of lions.

As per the forest department's report, the highest number of offences in these four years, 16, was registered in 2017-18. It stated that the lions are being radio-collared and forest department monitors their movement through drone camera and e-eye. However, it also stated that radio collaring is not a feasible option as it does not show the exact movement of lions and there are also issues of battery life.

The report further pointed out at huge vacancy of ground staff-posts of 272 beat guards, 91 foresters and 24 RFOs are vacant. Regarding open wells, the ATR stated that a massive drive was carried out to make farmers aware of the importance of covering their wells. Meanwhile, disbursement of subsidy amount of Rs 16,000 has been expedited. At present, walls have been constructed around 37,201 wells. The work of chain-link fencing at railway tracks is also on.

Lioness dies at rescue centre
Anine-year-old lioness died on Monday at a rescue centre in Jamwala in Gir Somanth district, a senior forest officer said.

The big cat was rescued from Zakhiya in Babariya range of Gir west division on Saturday, said D T Vasavada, chief conservator of
forests (CCF), Junagadh Wildlife Circle.

He said kidney failure is the cause of the death of the lioness. “The big cat was under treatment for weakness, dehydration and kidney-related ailments,” he added.

Lion attacks forest guard in Dhari

A forest guard was attacked by a lion on Monday at Ambardi Safari Park near Dhari town in Amreli district, officials said.

The incident occurred when the injured guard, S P Teraiya, and other staff were trying to lead the male lion, named ‘Shiv’, into a cage in the evening, said D T Vasavada, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Junagadh Wildlife Circle. “The attack took place after tourist hours,” he said.

The forest guard was admitted to Amreli Civil Hospital after he was administered primary treatment at Dhari, the CCF said, adding that he was out of danger.

Ambardi Park, which was thrown open for tourists in 2017, is currently the home for six lions. In November last year, a labourer was killed in a lion attack in the Devaliya safari park in Junagadh district.

Lion attacks Forest Guard in Ambardi Safari Park in Gujarat

Amreli, Aug 26 (UNI) A lion in Ambardi Safari Park, situated seven km from Dhari town in Amreli district of Gujarat as a reserved forest (RF) of Gir Protected Area in Sarasiya range of Gir East forests on the bank of Shetrunji river near Ambardi village, on Monday attacked and injured a Forest Guard.

CCF Junagadh D T Vasavada said the Forest Guard, identified as S P Tariya, was attacked by male lion Shiv, while he was being caged, at around 1800 hrs on Monday evening.
He said the injured guard was given primary treatment as Dhari government hospital and later referred to the Amreli civil hospital for vaccination and further treatment by an ENT specialist.

A lion had in November last year, attacked ंand mauled one temporary forest department employee to death and injured two others in Devaliya interpretation zone-cum-safari area in Gir Somnath district of Gujarat.

Is govt ignoring Gujarat’s ‘pride’ for SoU projects?

Is govt ignoring Gujarat’s ‘pride’ for SoU projects?

Forest officials, who were involved in tackling Canine Distemper Virus that claimed lives of 30 lions in Gir last year, given charge of setting up jungle safari and animal park at State of Unity by Oct

Gujarat’s pride, the Asiatic lions of Gir, seems to have been sidelined in favour of the jungle safari and animal park projects coming up near the Statue of Unity in Narmada district.

The state government is rushing to finish the projects before its inauguration in October. And for this, it has transferred all senior forest officials, who were instrumental in controlling the spread of the deadly Canine Distemper Virus, to SoU to get the projects ready in time.

Gir is the only natural habitat of world-famous Asiatic lions. A CDV outbreak in Dalkhaniya range made news after it ended up killing at least 30 lions between September and December last year. However, with five lion deaths reported since June 27 this year, experts and environmentalists believe the state government should not have transferred all officials experienced with CDV as they are needed to monitor the situation in Gir to prevent another outbreak.

Projects assigned
Ram Ratan Nala, who was appointed as director of Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh in October last year specially to tackle the CDV outbreak has been given charge of establishing the jungle safari as director of jungle safari at the Sardar Patel Zoological Park – a newly created post.

Shyamal Tikadar, who as additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) was camped in Gir East to deal with CDV cases, has been appointed as principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden of the state. Tikadar is directly involved in setting up the Asiatic animal zoo at Kevadia. So, instead of being headquartered in Gandhinagar monitoring everything related to wildlife in the State, he is now based in Kevadia.

Several range forest officers, who were involved in battling the outbreak, have also been posted at SoU. RFO Ruchi Dave who worked in the Dalkhaniya range has been transferred to SoU. RFO Rajan Jadhav of Babariya range --who had arrested seven men for holding an illegal show by luring Asiatic lions with chicken – has also been transferred to SoU.

All these officials who made their mark in Gir have been given tasks at SoU that need to be finished by October 31as a grand event is being planned to mark the anniversary of the inauguration of the Statue of Unity — the world’s tallest statue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with senior ministers of his Cabinet are likely to visit SoU on October 31to coincide with the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first deputy Prime Minister and the Iron Man of India.

The government has also transferred Deputy Conservator of Forest (Gir East) P Purushothama as DCF Aravalli and Conservator of Forest (Junagadh task force division) Pradeep Singh as Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) in July this year.

All these transfers have left conservationists worried, especially after five lion deaths were reported in less than two months.

A two-year-old lion cub was found dead in Talala on June 27 this year. A 7-year-old lion was found dead in Gir East (Dalkhaniya range). A 12-year-old lion was found dead in Devaliya range while a five-year-old cub was found dead in Tulsishyam range in August. Two 5-month lion cubs died during treatment on August 22.

However, PCCF (Wildlife) Shyamal Tikadar says that the transfers will not affect conservation work. “The outbreak occurred and the officers performed their best to contain it. Once it got over, they were assigned other tasks. In the system, we are faceless. We work on what is assigned to us.”

Shyamal Tikadar explaining the zoological park project to CM Rupani
Shyamal Tikadar explaining the zoological park project to CM Rupani

Two journalists, four others held for tracking lions
Two local journalists and four others were arrested for unauthorised entry into a prohibited area of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Junagadh district and causing discomfort and annoyance to lions there, a forest department official said on Sunday. They were tracking and chasing a pride of lions in Gir (West) division, shining torchlights into their faces and recording videos, in the process severely inconveniencing the big cats, Dheeraj Mittal, DCF Gir (West) division, Junagadh, said. “The incident happened on Friday night. They entered the prohibited area of the forest illegally. The six were arrested under Section 9 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act that prohibits hunting of lions and other wild animals categorised under schedules I, II, III, and IV of the Act,” Mittal added. The official identified the six as journalists Hiren Dhakan and Dharmesh Khachar, and Balakdas Devmurari, Natvar Bhuva, Nitin Raiyani and Daya Pola Dhinoya.

Lions deaths are being reported from the area. If it is occurring due to outbreak of a disease, there will be no experienced senior official who can take immediate action
Manish Vaidya, environmentalist

When lions began falling victim to CDV, nobody knew anything about it initially. The drugs had to be imported from US. No follow-up or research has been carried out since
Rajan Joshi, wildlife enthusiast

2 Journalists, 4 Others Held for 'Causing Discomfort' to Lions in Gir Forest

They were tracking and chasing a pride of lions in the Gir (west) division, shining torchlights into their faces and recording videos, in the process severely inconveniencing the big cats, officials said.

Updated:August 25, 2019, 6:18 PM IST
Junagadh: Two local journalists and four others were arrested for unauthorised entry into a prohibited area of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat's Junagadh district and causing discomfort and annoyance to lions there, a forest department official said on Sunday.
They were tracking and chasing a pride of lions in the Gir (west) division, shining torchlights into their faces and recording videos, in the process severely inconveniencing the big cats, Dheeraj Mittal, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Gir (west) division, Junagadh, said.
"The incident happened on Friday night. They entered the prohibited area of the forest illegally. The six were arrested under Section 9 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act that prohibits hunting of lions and other wild animals categorised under schedules I, II, III, and IV of the Act," Mittal added.
They were produced in a court in Mendarda on Saturday, which granted bail to two accused, he said, adding that four other accused got themselves hospitalised.
The official identified the six as journalists Hiren Dhakan and Dharmesh Khachar, and Balakdas Devmurari, Natvar Bhuva, Nitin Raiyani and Daya Pola Dhinoya.

Nine-year-old lioness dies at rescue centre in Gujarat

Published: Aug 26, 2019, 22:12 IST | mid-day online correspondent

The lioness died due to kidney failure

Nine-year-old lioness dies at rescue centre in Gujarat
The picture is used for representational purpose
In a sad incident for wildlife lovers, a nine-year-old lioness died on Monday at a rescue centre located in Jamwala in Gir Somanth district of Gujarat. D T Vasavada, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Junagadh Wildlife Circle said that the big cat was rescued from Zakhiya in the Babariya range of the Gir west division on Saturday, said The lioness died due to kidney failure. "The big cat was under treatment for weakness, dehydration and kidney-related ailments," he added.
On December 6, 2018, the Forest Department of Gujarat has found a decayed carcass of another lioness in the Gir, the last abode of the Asiatic lion in the world. Th search for her cubs were on then. Kheemabhai Mensibhai Bhola, a farmer in Ambalash region in Talal, Gir, found the dead lion in his farm on Thursday. In October 2018, 23 lions were found dead in a short span of 11 to 12 days. Some of the endangered lions succumbed to the deadly infection of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV). The present case raised concerns among Forest Department officials.
Edited by mid-day online desk with inputs from PTI

Visitor’s disappointment at ‘lack of animals’ at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo prides itself on being one of Scotland’s main attractions but recent reviews claim its ’emptiness’ makes it a ‘national disgrace’.
Up to 40 percent of Trip Advisor reviews left in August have been one star, with visitors complaining about the ‘extortionate’ £21.50 entry fee for what turned out to be a ‘long boring walk’.
Reviews described the zoo as having dirty and tired enclosure, dragging the average rating down to 2.5 stars out of five compared with the overall average of four stars.
Wendy Spoon, in her one-star review on Trip Advisor written last week, raged: ‘Worst zoo ever – we saw about six animals.’
The zoo is supposedly one of Scotland’s main attractions (Picture: Deadline news)
Emma B, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, complained in her one-star rant: ‘This zoo is a national disgrace. Worst zoo in the country,’
One review from Alana Kelly, said: ‘For the price of the entry fee, I was expecting a lot and was sorely disappointed. The animals we saw the most of were wasps.
‘Most of the enclosures appeared empty and were overgrown so it was difficult to see what was inside.’
TravellerEdinburgh rated the zoo two stars, saying: ‘The enclosures are very tired and hardly any animals were visible.
‘I don’t expect to see every animal and am all for respecting the animals’ privacy, but these enclosures are dull and the glass is very dirty. The design makes for poor viewing. Quite a few enclosures are empty too.”
A particularly scathing review from Mattjjjj, headined ‘Total waste of money’, reads: ‘Should be prosecuted under the trade description act, it’s not a zoo! Maybe rename as what it is – a long boring walk on a hill.’
EDINBURGH Zoo's koala enclosure
But visitors claim they only saw a total of six animals (Picture: Deadline News)
When a reporter visited the zoo on Thursday, paying £21.50, both the indoor viewing platform for the pandas and the Asiatic lion enclosure were closed for breeding season.
Parts looked tired and worn out and several other attractions, such as the Lemur Walk and Koala Territory, were also shut three hours before the official close of the park.
Sarah Kelly, 27, said she was disappointed with what she had seen on Thursday.
She explained: ‘There’s not a lot really, we saw a couple of penguins, we didn’t see the lions and it’s not much especially for what you pay.’
While Lee Robertson, 44 and who was visiting with his two young sons, echoed her saying: ‘Not much at all to see.’
However, the Kent family, who traveled from Westminster, London, were more positive.
Mum Ruth said: ‘It is missing some of the key animals, it’s a bit light here and there, but we’ve enjoyed it, the scenery and the staff were lovely.
‘The koalas were gorgeous and we saw the nose of the panda. It’s just some of the bits and bobs that are missing.’
One customer described the zoo as a ‘long boring walk up a hill’ (Picture: Deadline news)
Donna Rozzier and her sisters Charlie and Clare from Ipswich, Suffolk said they were extremely impressed with the zoo.
The 42-year-old said: ‘We’ve had a fantastic day, we just kept going back and forth because we were determined to see the panda and we did!
‘We’ve been here since 10.30am and been everywhere pretty much, the penguin parade is good and it’s definitely worth the entry.’
And Siobhan Gray who was visiting with her four-year-old autistic son Caban said: ‘It’s quite autism friendly, they’ve been really helpful and given an accessibility map.
‘The animals are great, a few things were closed off, but when it’s in the interests of the animals you don’t feel like you’re missing out.’
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Zoo said: ‘We continue to receive very positive feedback though our exit surveys and remain one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions.’
‘Our animals are provided with varied and enriching environments, including places to hide in and foliage to explore, giving them an important opportunity to express natural behaviours.
‘We advise visitors to make the most of our daily animal talks and feeds and to return to enclosures at different times throughout the day.’
Claire Gilbody-DickersonMonday 26 Aug 2019 4:06 pm

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Over 81 km of rail line fenced to protect lions: Gujarat to HC

| | Ahmedabad
The State Government on Monday told the Gujarat High Court it has so far constructed 81.06 kilometres of chain-link fencing on both sides of a railway line passing through lion habitat in Amreli district to prevent the big cats from being run over by trains.
In an affidavit submitted to the division bench of Justice SR Brahmbhatt and Justice AP Thaker, the State Government said it has taken a host of measures to curb unnatural deaths of Asiatic lions.
The Government said 260.7 km railway track from Pipavav port to Surendranagar passes through lion habitat in Amreli district, adding that it had so far completed 81.06 chain-link fences on this route.
The High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of the State Government's disclosure in the assembly last year that 184 lions, lionesses and cubs died in 2016 and 2017, with 32 of them dying of "unnatural" causes.
The Gujarat High Court had sought explanations from the Centre and the State Government.
In its affidavit, the Government said it has so far constructed 37,201 parapets on open wells, including 703 in 2019-20, to prevent lions from falling into them.
Tough measures have been initiated against illegal lion shows also, and 40 cases were registered against 134 offenders since 2016, with four cases lodged this year alone, the State Government told the High Court.

Enough measures taken to prevent lion deaths: Gujarat govt

The state’s submission came in response to a petition initiated by the HC


Source DNA Updated: Aug 27, 2019, 06:00 AM IST

Responding to a report submitted by amicus curiae Hemang Shah raising nine core issues that affect the Asiatic Lion population in the Gir region, the state government on Monday informed the court that it has taken enough measures to resolve the nine issues. Notably, the state's submission came in response to a suo motu petition initiated by the Gujarat High Court after multiple lion deaths were reported in the state last year.
The government informed the court that it has taken care of the open well problem by providing financial subsidy up to Rs 16,000 for construction of parapet wall around the wells and so far 37,201 open wells have been covered.
The state submitted that the 260.7 km long railway track from Pipavav Port to Surendranagar is passing through the lion habitat in Amreli district. Due to the lion deaths along the track, chain-link fencing has been erected along 81.06 km of the railway track to prevent accidents at a cost of Rs 11.84 crore and speed of trains passing through the area has been confined to 45 km per hour.
The state government also informed the court that technological solutions have been invited by the forest department for tracking the movement of lions across the railway tracks. It was submitted that 75 lions have been radio-collared. Regarding the issue of illegal electric fencing in the area, the government submitted that power discoms along with the forest and police department are regularly patrolling the area to solve the issue.
On the movement of vehicles along the six highways that pass through the Gir region, the state government has submitted that four of the highways that pass through the Gir protected area remain close for traffic from sunset to sunrise. The government has also rejected a suggestion that adequate lighting should be provided along roads in the area citing that it would adversely affect the movement of lions, which takes place during night hours. It has been also submitted that only 1 lion has died in road accident in the past two years.
 It has taken care of the open well problem and so far 37,201 wells have been covered.
 Technological solutions have been invited by the forest dept for tracking lions along the railway tracks passing through Gir.
 33 rapid response teams and 10 rescue teams have been formed by the forest dept to avoid man-animal conflict.
 Rs 11.84 cr Spent to erect chain-link fencing along 81.06 km of the railway track to prevent  accidents
On the issue of mining activities affecting the lion population, the government clarified that 9 stone quarrying sites are there near Thordi village having proximity to Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary. Four mining lease holders have been restrained from mining due to lack of environmental clearance certificate. In case of three mining units which were granted environmental clearance in March 2015, the Amreli collector in January 2019 had sought revocation of the lease and environmental clearance for violating norms. The government also submitted that all mining quarries in Thordi have been directed in July 2019 to construct 6-feet fencing around the quarry to avoid entry of lions. As far as illegal lion shows are concerned, 40 offences have been registered since 2016-17 to July 31, 2019, against 134 offenders, and a sum of Rs 6.03 lakh has been recovered from them. The government also submitted that hoteliers, farmhouse owners, and the local residents, have been made aware of the illegal lion shows.
On the issue of maintaining food chain and water in the Gir region, the government has submitted that enough preys are available for lions in and outside the forest area. The affidavit filed by the government provides that an estimated 1.51 lakh herbivore animals are there in the Gir protected area. It has been also submitted that old cows and bullocks cannot be infused in the forest area because of the risk of spreading of diseases in wild animals. The government also submitted that the nine rescue centres in Gir forest area provide the required treatment of lions. The court was also informed that 33 rapid response teams and 10 rescue teams have been formed by the forest department to avoid man-animal conflict.

Journo, 5 others held for illegal lion show in Gir

Officers said forest remained closed for visitors during monsoon which is also the mating season of the wild animals. Representative Image/AFP PHOTOOfficers said forest remained closed for visitors during monsoon which is also the mating season of the wild animals. Representative Image/AFP PHOTO
A local television journalist, his cameraman and four others were arrested for illegally entering Gir forest, Junagadh range, chasing Asiatic lions and filming them.
Four of the accused persons have accused forest officers of “ill-treatment” during custody. 
According to foresters, the incident took place on Saturday when a patrolling team spotted the six accused filming the illegal lion show. Officers said forest remained closed for visitors during monsoon which is also the mating season of the wild animals.
“Six accused have been arrested under various sections of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” said DT Vasavada, Chief Conservator of Forest, Junagadh circle.

Environmentalists filmed Iran’s vanishing cheetahs. Now they could be executed for spying.

A guard with the Asiatic cheetah conservation project in Iran reviews photos from a nearby camera trap. Eight conservationists charged with espionage could face the death penalty or up to 10 years in prison. (Frans Lanting/National Geographic Image Collection)
The nine conservationists had embarked on one of the most ambitious wildlife projects in Iran in recent years, setting camera traps in seven provinces to monitor the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah, whose dwindling population stalks Iran’s central plateau. 
 They worked with the government, secured the right permits and received funding and equipment from abroad. But the researchers, all Iranian, soon drew the suspicion of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful branch of Iran’s armed forces, and were arrested last year for alleged espionage. 
Now, four members of the team charged with “spreading corruption on earth” could face the death penalty, and four others could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The researchers, from the nonprofit Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, are awaiting a verdict in a trial that rights groups say has been marred by abuses and accusations of torture.
The ninth researcher who was detained, the foundation’s chairman, Kavous Seyed-Emami, died in custody shortly after his arrest last year. Tehran’s prosecutor general said Seyed-Emami, a professor who also held Canadian citizenship, had died by suicide, but family members and colleagues have rejected that account.
“He was hopeful and optimistic about the country’s future,” Seyed-Emami’s son, Mehran, said in an interview. “He was never one to have hard-line or polarized views.”
The plight of the conservationists, described by friends and family as passionate champions of the environment, has highlighted what analysts say is the growing criminalization of scientific and scholarly research in Iran, spurred in part by the security forces’ profound suspicion of contacts with foreign institutions.
The Revolutionary Guard Corps has increasingly targeted academics, researchers, business executives and dual nationals for arrest, and the repressive campaign is taking a particular toll on Iranian efforts to address a mounting environmental crisis. In addition to concerns about vanishing species, the country faces dwindling water resources because of rapid urbanization and excessive dam building.
 The Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation began using wildlife camera traps, deployed by researchers around the world, to track the intensely shy Asiatic cheetah amid concerns about its eroding natural habitat, which is threatened by Iran’s expanding mining sector and growing road network. The cheetahs now number fewer than 50, scientists say.
The rudimentary cameras are triggered by a mammal’s movement and body heat and snap images of animals within a few yards of a target spot, such as a game trail or watering hole. 
But the conservationists — whose areas of expertise include wildlife biology, ecology and eco-tourism — were accused of using scientific and environmental projects, including the foreign-manufactured camera traps, to collect classified military information.

Researchers and field staff from the cheetah project set up a camera trap at Naybandan wildlife reserve. (Frans Lanting/National Geographic Image Collection)

This photograph of an Asiatic cheetah was taken by a low-resolution camera trap like those used by the conservationists. (Frans Lanting/National Geographic Image Collection)
After the arrests, more than 350 scientists from around the world, including Jane Goodall, signed a letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in support of the conservationists. “We are horrified about the thought that the neutral field of conservation could ever be used to pursue political objectives,” the letter read. “We as a community strongly condemn that, and we are convinced our colleagues had no such part.” 
Founded in 2008, the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation had long worked in cooperation with Iran’s Department of Environment, which operates under President Hassan Rouhani and had cordial relations with authorities, colleagues said. 
“Their work as an NGO [nongovernmental organization] was very transparent,” Mehran said of his father and his colleagues. “They submitted annual reports highlighting all of their activities. There was nothing to hide.”
Earlier this year, two government agencies overseen by Rouhani, including Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, cleared the researchers of wrongdoing in inquiries prompted by Seyed-Emami’s death.
But the findings did not win their release. Human Rights Watch reported that at least two members of the group — Niloufar Bayani, a U.S.-educated biologist, and Sepideh Kashani, a project coordinator — planned this month to begin a hunger strike to protest their detention.
“Members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation have languished behind bars for over 550 days while Iranian authorities have blatantly failed to provide a shred of evidence about their alleged crime,” Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement this month. “The authorities should take the long overdue step of releasing these defenders of Iran’s endangered wildlife and end this injustice against them.” 
The fate of the conservationists has become tangled up in the tensions between Rouhani’s moderate administration, which has sought dialogue with the West, and hard-liners in the Revolutionary Guard.
Within the past two months, Iranian authorities have detained two scholars with dual nationality: British Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady and French Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah. U.S. scholar Xiyue Wang, who traveled to Iran to research his thesis on the Qajar dynasty for Princeton University, has been imprisoned since 2016.

Mohammad Farhadinia, left, and Amir Hossein Khaleghi, center, who has been charged with espionage, examine a dead cheetah in Tabas, Iran. (Frans Lanting/National Geographic Image Collection)
Kaveh Madani, a former deputy director at the Department of Environment, said he was forced to leave Iran after he was arrested early last year and interrogated by the Revolutionary Guard. He said authorities accused him, among other things, of trying to “shut down” the farming sector by criticizing the government’s water and agricultural policies, which prioritize dam building. Many of the dams in Iran are constructed by the Revolutionary Guard.
“Iran can serve as a classic example of the effects of shortsighted management and plans for development on the environment,” said Madani, an environmental scientist and water conservation expert. “In Iran,” he said, “we have every environmental problem imaginable: desertification, deforestation, dust storms, sinkholes, water pollution, air pollution, diversity loss.”
Scientists warn that the conservationists’ detention has halted critical wildlife protection efforts in Iran. The country is home to several rare species, including Persian leopards, Baluchistan bears and other mammals. If the Asiatic cheetahs go extinct, they will join the vanished Caspian tiger and Iran’s Asiatic lion. 
The camera traps were considered a vital tool to keep that from happening.
In a study of Iran’s rare cheetah published in 2017, Houman Jowkar, one of the detained scientists, described using wildlife camera traps to confirm the cats’ presence in 18 locations. The 2017 study used mostly models made in the United States. 
“A camera trap used to study wildlife would be a very poor tool to spy on anything from a distance,” said Rahel Sollmann, a biologist at the University of California at Davis and a camera trap expert. 
Added Cole Burton, a conservationist at the University of British Columbia: “We’re not looking for magazine quality. We just want to be able to count spots on the side of the animal or what have you.” Burton, who signed the letter to Khamenei, has used camera traps to study brown bears in Iran’s neighbor Armenia. 
Burton said that two graduate students in his lab, both Canadian Iranian, had planned to extend their bear research across the border into Iran. Those plans were canceled after the arrests, he said. 
“It has been very concerning for conservationists in general but definitely for those of us using this tool,” he said. “This has been a real setback” for conservation in the region, he said.
Guarino reported from New York.

In 'New India', tigers' population reached 2,967 in 2019: PM Modi

New Delhi, Aug 25(UNI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said this is 'New India', where 'we have accomplished the goals in the quickest time possible and succeeded in doubling the tigers' population to 2,967 in 2019 itself.

In his 'Mann Ki Baat' programme broadcast, Mr Modi said, 'Last month I had the privilege of releasing the tiger census in the country. The tiger population in India is 2967, two thousand nine hundred sixty seven.'

He said a few years ago, the figure of tigers stood at half of what we have at present and then the Tiger summit took place in 2010 at St. Petersburg, Russia. At this summit, a resolution was taken expressing concern about the dwindling tiger population in the world.

It was resolved to double the number of tigers worldwide by 2022, he said, adding 'We doubled our tiger numbers in 2019 itself. Not only the tiger population in India was doubled, but the number of protected areas and community reserves has also increased.'

'At the time I was releasing the data on tigers, I also remembered the Asiatic lion of the Gir in Gujarat. I had the charge of the Chief Minister of Gujarat at a period of time when the habitat of lions in the forests of Gir was shrinking,' Mr Modi added.

He said this number was decreasing and several innovative steps, one after the other in the Gir were taken. In 2007, it was decided to deploy female guards. There were improvements in the infrastructure to increase tourism.

Mr Modi said, 'Whenever we talk about nature and wildlife, we only talk about conservation. But, we now have to move beyond conservation and think about compassion. Our scriptures have provided great guidance with respect to this subject. Our scriptures have said centuries ago.'

That is, if there are no forests, tigers are forced to venture into the human habitat and are killed, and if there are no tigers in the forest, then man cuts the forest and destroys it, so in fact the tiger protects the forest and not that the forest protects the tiger - our forefathers explained this great truth in a befitting manner.

PM Modi said, 'Therefore, we need to not only conserve our forests, flora and fauna, but also create an environment wherein they can flourish properly.'

UNI AE 1454

Gorakhpur zoo might get a 150-acre green zone

The Gorakhpur zoo is one of the priority projects of the Yogi Adityanath government
LUCKNOW: With its entrance designed like Gorakhnath Temple and buildings as pagodas, Gorakhpur zoo, the priority project of the Yogi government, might get even bigger with over 150 acre of land getting added to it.
As of now, the horseshoe-shaped zoo is 121 acres in size. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed to develop a 150-acre land that lies in between as a biodiversity zone.
Though a final decision on the management of the land is yet to be taken, if added to the zoo, the 150-acre green belt will give scenic and environmental value to Gorakhpur zoo.
Meanwhile, the estimated cost of the project has also increased. In its latest proposal submitted to the state government, the executing agency, Rajkiya Nirman Nigam, has pegged the cost of the project at Rs 282 crore. The approved cost of the project is Rs 208 crore. Sources said the cost has increased due to revision in the plan which includes bringing a toy train mounted on rubber tyres, removing high-tension lines passing over the area and supplementing the design of enclosures for bigger inmates like Asiatic lion and rhinocerous.
The theme of the construction is inspired from Gorakhnath Temple and Buddhist culture. While the entrance plaza has been modelled on Gorakhnath Temple, the cafeteria, administrative building and facade of the hospital and kiosks may look like pagodas. At least 60% construction has been completed. The deadline for the project is December 2019.
“We might need at least six months after that to bring the animals, put them in quarantine and then into their defined enclosures,” said sources.
Among the highlights of the zoo is a naturally occurring 40-acre water body.
“It’s part of the Ramgarh Taal. It has been left untouched as many water birds come visiting the wetland,” said a source. A very dense forest with canopy density of 100% spanning over 30 acres is another highlight.
Gorakhpur zoo is a government-funded project. It was proposed in 2009. While it was approved by the Central Zoo Authority in 2010, it lost focus of the SP government that had on their priority the Etawah Lion Safari.

Forest ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat at loggerheads over shifting of Gir lions to Palpur-Kuno

By Bhaskar News Network //
  • MP Forest Minister said – Lions dying in Gir but Gujarat government does not want to give them to MP
  • Gujarat Forest Minister said- The charge is wrong, we are following the guidelines of the Supreme Court
Sheopur: The process of shifting of Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh’s Palpur-Kuno Sanctuary has been hanging fire for the last six years. From the very beginning, the Gujarat government has been delaying the shifting on one excuse or the other although in the last two years large number of lions died in Gir due to infighting, contagious infections, floods and railway accidents, among other reasons.

On one occasion the Gujarat government demanded to increase the area of the sanctuary, while on the other they told MP government that lions would be shifted from Gir to MP only after the sanctuary gets the status of a national park. MP government has fulfilled all the conditions, but the lions are yet to be shifted.
Kuno’s area increased and given status of national park: Now, Kuno has also got the status of National Park and the area has been increased by relocating 28 villages outside the sanctuary.
In this case, Dainik Bhaskar spoke to forest ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat government. MP forest minister Umang Singar says that six years ago the Supreme Court had given orders to shift lions, yet the Gujarat government does not want to give lions. In Gujarat, the lions are dying of disease and finding an alternative habitat for the big cats is essential for their long-term survival.

Meeting of expert committees were not held, says Gujarat minister: On the other hand, Gujarat government’s forest minister Ganpatbhai Vasava says that the MP government’s allegations are baseless. We are following the guidelines of the Supreme Court. After the order of the Supreme Court, three committees (Translocation Committee, Expert Committee and Apex Committee) have been formed to decide how to shift to Gir lions to Kuno, but no decision could be taken as the meeting of the committees were not held.
Contempt petition filed in SC: At the same time, RTI activist Ajay Dubey has filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court in connection with the delay in shifting of lions. It is known that the last meeting of the Translocation Committee was held in 2016. The meeting has not taken place since then.
Chitals in Palpur-Kuno.
Gujarat government asked MP government to remove 3 deficiencies
  • The Government of Gujarat said the area of ​​Kuno Sanctuary was not sufficient for the lions. It should be increased.
  • Gujarat said that Kuno does not have the status of National Park. The lions can survive and thrive in the atmosphere of a national park.
  • Gujarat said that there are tigers in Kuno. In such a situation, the forest officers here should develop suitable atmosphere so that both the big cats can co-exist.
MP government has removed the shortcomings
  • The MP government evacuated 28 villages and increased the acreage according to the Gujarat government’s demand.
  • MP made Kuno a national park 
  • MP government said that this points would be taken care of
Two years ago, expert panel gave the report that Kuno was suitable for lions: Ranjit Singh, member of the Translocation Committee constituted by the Supreme Court, said that the committee had its last meeting in 2016. There was no meeting after this. At the last meeting, we made it clear that Kuno sanctuary was suitable for lions shifting of lions could be done, Singh said.

Palpur Kuno sanctuary in MP’s Sheopur district
Umang Singar, Forest Minister MP Government, said the Gujarat government does not want to give the lions to MP. He said the committee wrote letters to the Gujarat government several times but they did not reply. Earlier, there was BJP government in Madhya Pradesh but it did not ask Gujarat to give lions to MP, he said.
Ganpatbhai Vasava, Forest Minister of Gujarat Government, said the MP government’s allegation that the Gujarat government does not want to give the lion is completely baseless. We are following the Supreme Court’s guidelines. Action will be taken only after the report of the expert committee, he added.

Video Shows Lion Eating Grass, Gujarat Forest Officials Term It 'Stomach Upset'

The clip shared on Facebook shows the carnivorous animal satiating its hunger with green grass in the Khambha forest area of Amreli district and towards the end of the clip the lion appears to vomit something.

Trending Desk
Updated:August 30, 2019, 2:41 PM IST

A video of a visibly-emaciated lion eating grass in a forest area of Gujarat has left netizens baffled. The clip shared on Facebook shows the carnivorous animal satiating its hunger with green grass in the Khambha forest area of Amreli district.
“Have you ever seen lion eating grass?” wrote a Facebook user, while another asked, “Is this normal?”
Towards the end of the clip, the lion appears to vomit something.
And the explanation for that was provided by the Gujarat Forest Department, which took to Twitter, to say that big cats do indeed eat grass “when their stomach is upset.”
“This helps them vomit out some undigested food,” the department said, revealing that the video was shot in Khambha forest area of Gujarat’s Amreli
Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (DCF), Shetrunji range told Times of India that raw meat sometimes has an acidic effect on the digestive system of lions.
“It’s frequently seen that lion do graze and so do tigers. These animals eat grass when they suffer discomfort in their digestive tracts,” the newspaper quoted Priyvrat Gadhvi, a member of State Board for Wildlife, Gujarat, as saying.
The Gujarat government recently told the High Court that several measures had been taken to resolve issues that had been highlighted following the death of lions in the state last year.
The government had submitted that an estimated 1.51 lakh herbivore animals were present in the Gir forest’s protected area, in response to a query on availability of food for the big cats.

BRBNMPL renews its adoption of Zoo animals

August 24, 2019
BRBNMPL General Manager Ramesh Kumar Labh, Deputy General Manager P.K.Biswal,  Assistant General Manager A.K. Karn and Manager N.G. Murali visited Mysuru Zoo recently and received the Adoption Certificate.
Shiva Krishna of Tripura Constructions, Hyderabad, has adopted a Lion for one year by paying adoption fee of Rs.1 lakh.
H.R.Venkatesh of Bengaluru has adopted a Giraffe of Mysuru Zoo for a period of one year by making a payment of Rs.1,00,000 as adoption fee.
Santhi Priya Gattupalle of Bengaluru has adopted a White Rhinoceros of Mysuru Zoo for a period of one year by making payment of Rs.75,000.
For the eighth consecutive year, the X standard students of JSS Public School, Siddarthanagar, have adopted an Indian Cobra, Emu, Leopard Cat and a Green Anaconda for a period of one year after paying the fee.

Two Asiatic Lions arrive at Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam

asiatic lions, visakhapatnam

Two lion cubs of Barda gene pool die hours after birth

Two lion cubs - one male and another femaleRAJKOT: Two lion cubs - one male and another female - died in less than 24 hours of their birth in Sat Virda gene pool in Barda Sanctuary of Porbandar district on Thursday.
Lioness Sarita had given birth to four cubs on August 21 morning, of which three were females. Forest officials said that the two cubs died as Sarita did not feed them even 12 hours after birth.
The veterinary doctors of Porbandar forest department and Sakkarbaug Zoo, who were observing the cubs, saw that two of them were weaker. After the physical verification, the doctors feed them powdered milk. However, they couldn’t survive.
The bodies of these two cubs were sent for postmortem while two other newborns were sent to Sakkarbaug Zoo for proper treatment and care.
Earlier on April 1 too, Sarita had given birth to two cubs in the gene pool centre in captive breeding. However, the cubs died after were injured when she was carrying the newborn cub in her mouth. postmortem report had revealed that one of the cubs had received injury on the chest while other on the head.
Talking to TOI, chief conservator of forest (CCF) DT Vasavda said, “We are also considering replacing Sarita in the gene pool after the two back-to-back incidents. We have captured the lioness from the wild and if required, she will be again release into the forest again.”
The cubs sent to Sakkarbaug Zoo will be brought to gene pool once their condition stabalizes in few months.
In May, lioness Parvati had also died in the same gene pool because of pregnancy-related issues.
The gene pool in Barda was created in 2014 after the experts’ opinion that inbreeding and loss of genetic variation may decrease the ability of wild population to adapt to climate changes and make them vulnerable to new disease, parasites and pollutants. The gene pool is a long-term measure to help conserve genetic diversity of Asiatic lions. The gene pool is aimed to monitor and create healthy specimens of lions.

London Zoo weighs 19,000 fierce, prickly, cute animals

  • 23/08/2019
    Lloyd Burr went along to check it out. Credits: Newshub.
    When I heard London Zoo was weighing the 19,000 animals in its care, it was the perfect excuse to go and check it out. And the verdict: it's pretty bloody cool!
    Located on the outskirts of Regent's Park, it's right in the heart of the city and easy enough to walk, tube, or bus there.
    The zoo's annual weigh-in sees the vital statistics of every animal recorded, whether it's a spider, a monkey, or a giraffe. The information goes into a database that's shared around the world and helps zookeepers elsewhere compare their animals.
    Newshub was one of around a dozen media outlets to attend the weigh-in, and our tour began at the Humboldt penguin enclosure where a zookeeper was luring each of the South-American natives onto a set of scales with some small fish.
    One of the penguins was called Magenta (he/she wasn't actually magenta-coloured), and he/she weighed in at 3.718kg. Pretty decent.
    The Asiatic lion enclosure was next and while the weighing was done out of view, we did get to see the height/length measuring. They put some meat in a sack and tie it in a tree, with a giant measuring tape behind it. Heidi the lion's stretch was 7ft.
    Porcupines Lena, Polly, and Nancy were next up. Pretty cool creatures who were feasting on corn cobs so they would play ball with the keeper. They weighed 15.6kg, 17.7kg, and 14.7kg respectively. Their neighbour was Brush, a coati. His long bendy nose was fascinating to watch and he hoovered up food from the top of the scales, which read 4.15kg.
    London Zoo weighs 19,000 fierce, prickly, cute animals  rator Teague Stubbington says the information gathered is useful for their own zookeepers to keep track of progress within the zoo.
    "It helps to ensure that every animal we look after is healthy, eating well, and growing at the rate they should - weight is a particularly important indicator of health and wellbeing.
    "A growing waistline can also help us to detect pregnancies, which is so important as many of the species at ZSL London Zoo are endangered and part of international breeding programmes."
    Our next stops saw us meet Jabba the African Bullfrog, the most terrifying frog I've ever seen. He was huge, keen to jump off the scales at us, and weighed in at a little more than 900 grams. On the table next to him was an unnamed black-headed python - but fear not ophidiophobes, it was only a juvenile and weighed 102 grams.
    London Zoo's biggest meerkat was crowned on our tour: Dracula tipped the scales at 1kg. I could've watched these wee playful critters for hours. Inquisitive and cheeky.
    Next to the giraffe enclosure was its relative, the okapi. They're giraffes without the long neck and are an endangered species from Central Africa. Their tongues are 32cm long and used to lick the wax build-up in their ears. Oni walked onto some heavy-duty scales and came in at 247 kilograms.
    There were no New Zealand species at the zoo, although Stubbington says a few Kiwis work at the zoo. We didn't see them being weighed though.

Chhatbir gets pair of Asiatic lions, white tigress from Gujarat; count reaches 10

The Asiatic lions and white tigress have been sent to Chhatbir zoo under an exchange programmeZIRAKPUR: After the death of the lone lion, Chhatbir Zoo has now got a pair of Asiatic lions and a white tigress from Rajkot zoo. With this, the zoo has now five Asiatic lions, four female lions and one male lion. The white tigress will be paired with the lone white tiger at the zoo, adding to the total strength of two white tigers and two Royal Bengal tigers.
Zoo field director M Sudhagar said Akshat (lion), Drithi (lioness) and Gauri (white tigress) have been added to the zoo family.
Sudhagar said that under the animal exchange programme, which was initiated by Chhatbir Zoo in January, 2018, with Rajkot zoo and approved by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), New Delhi, in October, 2018, was pending for approval of the Gujarat government. Due to persistent efforts of Punjab, finally Gujarat government gave nod to the proposal. To formally hand over the lions, a felicitation programme was conducted in Gir, Gujarat, in which CM Gujarat handed over the certificate of authorization to Punjab to receive the lions.
Accordingly, as per the discussion held between the directors of the two zoos, the technical team headed by state veterinary officer (SVO), Chhatbir zoo, Ashish, along with Harpal Singh, range officer, and other animal keepers, reached Rajkot zoo on August 16.
After the health check up of animals and formal clearance, the animals were loaded safely into customized containers. Taking all precautions, the team started its return journey on August 17 evening via Rajasthan and Haryana with continued monitoring and inspection, finally reaching here.
Waiting for the animals, the zoo team welcomed and received the new members Akshat, Drithi and Gauri with euphoria. After a brief period of examination by the veterinary wing of the Chhatbir Zoo, the animals were served soup and meat. The new members will be kept under observation in quarantine for minimum one month before being displayed to visitors.
These new entrants will add new life in the lion safari. With this, the expectations of the visitors may be met and the lion breeding programme of the zoo is expected to be improved.

NFA evicts encroachers from Kagombe forest reserve

Wednesday August 21 2019
Some of the eucalyptus trees which  were cut
Some of the eucalyptus trees which were cut down by NFA operatives in Kyaterekera sub county along River Muzizi in Kagadi district. PHOTOS | ALEX TUMUHIMBISE 
Authorities in Kagadi district have evicted several people who had encroached River Muzizi and Kagombe forest reserve.
The operation which was sanctioned by the Kagadi Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Lillian Ruteraho was led by a joint team of Police and Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF).
A source in the district security committee said the eviction is line with the President’s directive to all RDCs and Chief Administrative officers in June this year to ensure that wetlands and forests are protected from being degraded.
During the operation, plantations of crops such as bananas, maize, coffee, and eucalyptus trees were cut down and their owners were seen scampering for their dear lives, witnesses said.
Plantations estimated to cover over 10 acres were cut down, in order to protect the endangered River Muziizi and Kagombe forest reserve.
According to environmentalists, over 600 hectares of the forest reserve in Muhorro, Ndaiga, Kyaterekera and Bwikara have been cleared for cultivation by encroachers.

Lion safari park closed for renovation works