Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gir National Park – Home of the Asiatic Lion!!

Gir National Park – Home of the Asiatic Lion!!

Sunday, 4 October, 2009

Of days gone by...this January during my solo all India motorcycle journey
Gir National Park, which is the only abode of the rare Asiatic lion is situated in the south west of the Saurashtra peninsula. The Gir forest, stretching over an expanse of 1,412 sq km, is one of the largest tracts of dry deciduous forests in the world. The entire landscape is drained by seven perennial rivers. A large chunk of the forest land falls under what is known as the Deccan trap, one of the largest volcanic provinces in the world. Thanks to volcanic rocks, the area has black cotton soil and sandstone. After relaxing a couple of days at Diu, I took sparsely populated country roads to reach Sasan Gir to begin my tour of the world of the rare Asiatic lion. Sasan Gir is a dusty and badly managed one-road stretch where most of the hotels and restaurants do business. The buses and the fish carts run chaos here. But, since I was here to enjoy the exotic wildlife here, I tried to forget my dusty surroundings and checked into the budget hotel “Rajashri Guest House’ that is opposite the Sinh Sadan Guest House, the forest department run tourism centre. During my 3 day stay here, I took 3 morning and 2 evening safaris into different parts of the Gir Jungle. One can get their entry tickets, book their forest guides and book the jungle safaris at the reception desk in the Sinh Sadan Guest House. A lot of tourist guides here are of African origin and they share the buffer zone of the Gir forests with the lions and the other jungle denizens. As history goes, the Nawab of Junagadh ordered a lot of slaves from Africa during his merry days. Today, these folks are as much an Indian citizen as the rest of India and enjoy the privileges that the Indian citizenship offers. Having been in India for generations, these guys speak Hindi and Gujarati fluently, but still retain their native dialects and scripts. Recently, these folks of African origin

were made popular by the Bajaj Discover TV advertisement. Each jungle safari offered me sights of different breathtaking beauties and thus added variety in spice. It was the very first morning safari (Route 5) and I was just 15 minutes into our drive when I spotted 2 male Asiatic lions (brothers) slowly ambling in front of the jeep and on the soft ground. As we know, most of the felines have sensitive paws and thus prefer to walk on the soft mud-covered jeep tracks. I stood transfixed in my jeep admiring this proud and powerful species. I was hoping to hear them roar, but it looked like these lion brothers in front of me were happy to take a leisurely morning stroll. Locals here told me that an adult lion’s roar can be heard till as far away as 9 kilometres from the lion. Now isn’t that some mighty roar!! The Gir forest has an estimated 352 lions. But, the story here is that these 352 lions share the same gene pool as they were bred from less than 20 specimens. What this means is that a single epidemic, to which these lions are exposed could wipe out the species entirely! I went to different parts of this jungle. Whether it be dry scrub land (Route 5), yellow grass land (Route 6) or the green terrain near Kamleshwar dam, Gir is extremely rich in wildlife and is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The bold pride of lions, a jackal basking in the early morning golden sun, a crested serpent eagle (female) guarding its nest, the very exquisite looking painted sand grouse, the national bird of India – the peacock, a scampering ruddy mongoose, scores of nilgai, sambar deer, spotted deer and other birds is what I got to see at this amazing place. After my first morning trip where I spotted the lion brothers, I wasn’t able to sight any more of this rare beauty till my 5th and final jungle safari (Route 6). This happened to be the evening shift. It was late in the evening close to dusk hours when I spotted a lioness and her female cub. My forest guide told me that the female cub was no older than 2 years, but till date I doubt his judgement as I was awed at the sheer power that the female cub oozed even at such a young age. The overall wildlife experience was fabulous for me, but the only thing that pinched my heart were the umpteen smoke belching small scale industries that have propped up around the boundaries. These small scale industries not only increase the air and water pollution levels, but also bring in a larger population. Hopefully, the government will prevent the Gir forest and the pride of Gujarat from any further degradation. Following were the mammals I spotted during my 3 day stint here: Asiatic Lion, Asiatic Lioness and her cubs, Jackal, Ruddy Mongoose, Common Mongoose, Common Langaur, Nilgai (Bluebull), Spotted Deer (Chital), Sambar deer, and Wild Boar. Following were the birds I spotted during my 3 day stint here: Shikra, Blue cheeked bee eater, Peacock, White-breasted kingfisher, Rose-ringed parakeet, Asian Robin, Spotted Owlet, Common Buzzard, Oriental Tree Pipit, Rufus tree pie, Red Vented Bulbul, Red Wattled Lapwing, Darter, Small Blue Kingfisher, Indian Pond Heron, White-Breasted Kingfisher, Crested Serpent Eagle (female), Purple Sunbird, Oriental White Eye, Common Tailor Bird, Yellow Legged Green Pigeon, Little Cormorant, Common Babbler, Black Ibis, Little Egret, Eurasian thick knee, Painted Sand grouse and Little brown dove. To see India through the eyes of a motorcyclist’s lens, visit the album below.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Will CM gift forest land to industry?

Will CM gift forest land to industry?
DNA By Kapil Dave
In a major setback to decades of forest and wildlife conservation efforts in Gujarat, the state government may decide today to de-notify hundreds of hectares of forest land in four sanctuary areas of Gujarat. If chief minister Narendra Modi approves the Gujarat Wildlife Board's agenda, there will be a severe threat of industrial and human activity in Gujarat's four prime forest areas - the Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch, Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary and Narayan Sarovar Bird Sanctuary.

Highly placed sources told DNA on Friday that influential industrial houses are likely to have their way if the forest department and the Board don't vehemently oppose the move. Highly placed sources expressed profound sorrow about the fact that "Gujarat's wildlife is facing major problems like poaching and increased human and industrial activity, but the Board is pressing for discussion on 11 issues, of which a majority are proposals of industries to take away forest land."

The board has proposed diversion of 89.74 hectare land in the Wild Ass Sanctuary for the power transmission line of Adani Power Ltd and 241.59 hectare land for Power Grid Corporation's transmission lines. It has also proposed diversion of 7.28 hectare land for Usha Breco Ltd for ropeway construction in Girnar Sanctuary; 4.40 hectare land from Velavadar black buck Sanctuary for Gujarat State Road Development Corporation (GSRDC) for construction of a six-lane Sarkhej-Vataman-Bhavnagar central spine road; 0.315 ha land diversion for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd for laying of fibre optic lines in Balaram-Ambaji Sanctuary, 0.45 ha land diversion for Vodafone Gujarat Limited for laying of fibre optics in Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary and 0.45 ha land diversion for Reliance Communication Gujarat Ltd in Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary.

Ironically, the state government on Friday admitted in the assembly that because of increasingly serious man-animal conflict in Gir and Dangs forests, 23 people had lost their lives in the last two years. It also admitted during the ongoing assembly session to charges of misuse of land allotted in Gir.Highly placed sources in the government said, "The State Wildlife Board will hold a meeting, to be chaired by chief minister Narendra Modi, on July 4 at the Secretariat. The main agenda of the meeting is to give land in protected sanctuaries to various private companies for commercial use." The other items on the agenda include a presentation on wildlife, formation of Leo-genetic lab for Gir lions, modern communication facilities for the management and protection of the animals in Gir and erecting of walls on the two sides of the road in Gir sanctuary.

However, the forest department prefers to remain quiet about the move to de-notify the forest land which it is supposed to protect! Principal chief conservator of forests ML Sharma was not reachable, while PCCF (wildlife) Pradeep Khanna refused to comment

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)

The Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)

The Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) is a subspecies of the lion which survives today only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India where it is also known as the Indian lion or Persian lion. In 2005, the Gujarat government reported that 359 Asiatic lions were sighted in the Gir forest The Asiatic lions once ranged from the Mediterranean to the north-eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent, but excessive hunting, water pollution and decline in natural prey reduced their habitat. Historically, Asiatic lions were classified into three kinds – Bengal, Arabian and Persian lions. Asiatic lion are smaller and less aggressive than their African counterparts. Asiatic lions are similar to African forms, though they have less swollen tympanic bullae, shorter postorbital constriction, and usually have divided infraorbital foramen. The colour ranges from reddish-brown to a highly mottled black to sandy cinnamon grey.
In adult males, the maximum skull length is 330-340 mm, while that of females is 266-277 mm. They reach a weight of 150-220 Kg. for the males and 100-150 Kg. (n=2) for the females. The scientific record for the longest male is of 292 cm, while the maximum height to the shoulders reported is of 107 cm. The Captain Smee hunted a male of 268 cm long, which weight 222.3 kg, excluding the entrails. The largest known wild male, in the hunting records, was exactly 3 m (9.9 ft) in length.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Scope of a second home for Gir lions remains mired

New Delhi (IANS): India's Asiatic lions are the most vulnerable of all the big cats as they live in a single area in Gujarat, making them prone to diseases as well as other threats, and yet calls for creating a second home by the scientific community have been repeatedly ignored, say experts.

The sprawling Gir National Park in western India is home to some 350 Asiatic lions, the last refuge for these cats. In the past, the lions had roamed in almost the entire Central Asia.
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a leading scientific organisation, recommended the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh for setting up a second home for the Gir lions.
But the Gujarat government rejected the proposal, saying it lacks scientific backing and security.
Experts believe Kuno in central India is part of the lion's historical home range.

Gujarat says if Madhya Pradesh cannot protect their tigers, how can they protect the lions.

Supreme Court lawyer Ritwick Dutta, who has taken up the case filed by the Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India, a Delhi-based NGO, in the Supreme Court for transfer of the lions, told IANS: "If the issue is not resolved, there would be a huge economic loss."

"The 24 villages that were inside the Kuno reserve have been resettled elsewhere to make room for the Gir lions and an estimated Rs.15 crore has been spent on the project," said Mr. Dutta.

However, with the recent admission by the Madhya Pradesh government that there are no tigers left in the Panna reserve, it might just assure the Gujarat government of its case.

But Faiyaz Khudsar, a wildlife biologist who heads the NGO and has worked in Kuno for the lion relocation programme, says, "Wild animals confined to a single area can spell death knell to their long-term survival, and this has been proved by science."

"Some years ago in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, at least 25 per cent of the African lion population there was wiped out due to the canine distemper disease, (a fatal viral disease) and the rest of the lions fell sick. This shows how a single epidemic can wipe out the entire lion population in the park," said Mr. Khudsar.

The Serengeti Park, a Unesco World Heritage site, is spread across more than 14,000 sq km, whereas Gir has an area of just over 1,000 sq km. Despite the sprawling size of Serengeti, the African lions fell to the onslaught of the viral disease, he maintains.

Besides, inbreeding over a period of time can render a population confined to a single area genetically weak, as they don't get the chance to mate with stronger partners from other geographical areas, making them more prone to diseases, he said.

Gir lions are also threatened by poaching, man-animal conflict and accidents. Many lions have died recently after falling into the wells created to provide water for flora and fauna of the park.

"If Gujarat says that there is a security issue in Kuno, then why are the lions straying out of Gir. Some of the lions are even reaching Daman and Diu," said Mr. Khudsar.

"The only solution left is to create different populations in different areas. The geographical barriers might help the lions evolve stronger genes in the near future that would ensure their long-term survival," he explains.

FM provides for gene pools in budget

FM provides for gene pools in budget
Gujarat Samachar
Briefly translated from Gujarati
Finance Minister of Gujarat Shree Vajubhai Vala today presented the budget for the year 2009-10. In this budget he has generously provided Rs. 8 crores (1.7 Mn dollars) for gene pools at Sakkarbaug, Rampara and Umat in Rajkot district. This is a praise worth step by state Govt. in conservation of Asiatic lions.

Lion attacks two brothers at Kaneri village

Lion attacks two brothers at Kaneri village
Divya Bhaskar
Briefly translated from Gujarati
A pride with four adult lions and cubs had made Kaneri village in Una sub-district as their home since last one week.

In the morning at about 8AM, Rana Laxman Solanki and Dhiru Laxman Solanki, two brothers were working in their farm. Suddenly one lion attacked Ranabhai and started pulling him by holding him on his right hand. Dhiru when saw this came to rescue. Lion attacked him and injured him on back and thighs. Inspite of though fight by brothers lion would not buzz but it became more furious.

In the meantime Haresh Bachu olanki saw the man – animal fight. He started throwing stones at lion. And mob gathered started shouting. Finally lion left two men and hide into nearby barley crops.

At the time other three lions were hiding in the sugarcane farm. Injured brothers were taken to Una Govt. hospital for treatment. Forest department staff immediately rushed to the place to arrange for moving lions to jungle area.

Girnar's mysterious Siberian cranes!

Girnar's mysterious Siberian cranes!
Jumana Shah & Amit Arora / DNA, Sunday, June 28, 2009 10:09 IST
Is the visit of the stunning Siberian cranes to the Girnar forest hills in Gujarat, the state's best kept secret? If the company building the ropeway to the temple atop Girnar Hill in Junagadh, Usha Breco, is to be believed, the Sibes are one of the 20 endangered species found in the Girnar hills! This, ornithologists and naturalists of the region assert, is "absurd", as this highly endangered species of cranes has never visited Gujarat.

Moreover, the state does not even fall on the Siberian Crane's Central Asian flyway. The species is a migratory bird that visited India from central Asia during winters. In India, the crane has been sighted only in Keoladeo National park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. But even there, the Sibes have not been sighted since early 2002.
As for Usha Breco, this information was revealed by the company in the environment public hearing of the Girnar aerial ropeway on June 3 in Junagadh, in reply to queries by activists. The company's reply has been uploaded on the Gujarat Pollution Control Board's website as part of the minutes of the hearing.
Deputy conservator of forest, and a very keen birder, Uday Vora says, "It is a great folly. There has been no record of Siberian cranes in Girnar. It has apparently been written by someone who does not know the basics of ornithology or does not know the difference between Demoiselle crane and Sibes."
While some environmentalists are finding the mistake funny, others are enraged at the company's lack of sensitiveness on the ecological importance of the region. Girnar hills are home to the endangered Asiatic lions and fast vanishing vultures. "The company is about to be entrusted with a very sensitive responsibility of constructing ropeway in an ecological sensitive zone. If they are not aware of the existing flora and fauna, how are they going to conserve it?" a naturalist claimed, requesting anonymity.
The company officials on their part disown the data saying the information given to the activists at the public hearing was compiled completely with the help of forest department officials and professors of local universities. "I am not aware of this particular information (about Siberian cranes), but all the information about wildlife was provided to us by the forest officials," said western regional head of Usha Breco, Dipak Kapilesh.

279 Maldhari have sold land allotted to them from forest department

279 Maldhari have sold land allotted to them from forest department
Gujarat Samachar
Briefly translated from Gujarati
In a question asked by MLA Jawaharbhai Chavda forest minister Shri Mangubhai Patel informed the house that in last two year six people have been killed by wild animals in Junagadh district. He said that family of the deseazed have been paid compensation of Rs. 6 lacs. He also informed that 4663 domestic cattle have been killed and owners are paid compensation of Rs. 76 lacs (Rs. 7609654). He stated that 531 owners are yet to receive compensation.

In another question by MLA Gyasudinbhai Sheikh forest minister informed that 588 Maldharis had been allotted land while their rehabilitation. Out of this 279 land have been converted into “old condition” (Juni Sarat) by Maldharis and have been sold. This sold lands are being used for agriculture purpose only.

In one case legal action is taken against one purchaser under Indian Forest Act – 1927 and Wildlife Protection Act 1972. This owner has moved high court.

Lioness caged in Mahuva forest

Lioness caged in Mahuva forest
1 Jul 2009, 2202 hrs IST
MAHUVA (BHAVNAGAR): A lioness, which has been terrorising villagers in Chhapariyali area of Mahuva range forest for past two months, was caged by forest department officials on Tuesday. According to the officials, the lioness was nicknamed 'Lady Don' after she had mauled five persons. "After the lioness injured five persons seriously, villagers stopped venturing outside their houses in the evening," said range forest officer M Jaypalsinh. "Following public demand, we set up a trap in the area," he added.

Six killed, 46 injured in lion attacks in two years

Six killed, 46 injured in lion attacks in two years
In the last two years, six persons have been killed and 46 injured in lion attacks. On Wednesday, the forest department told State Assembly that in last 13 months, till 30 May, 2009, three persons died while 46 were badly mauled by prowling big cats.
The department said a compensation of Rs 5.95 lakh was paid to those killed and injured. During the same period, 2,527 domestic animals were killed in lion attacks. Of these, 339 cattle belonged to 314 Maldharis who stay within the Gir sanctuary. The department has awarded a compensation of Rs 26.90 lakh for animals killed by lions.
In reply to a query, the department said from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2008, three persons were killed and 2,136 animals attacked by lions. It said in the last two years — from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2009 — a compensation worth Rs 76.09 lakh was paid just for animal killings.
The department is yet to pay a compensation of Rs 16.21 lakh for animal killings and Rs 50,000 for people injured in lion attacks.

A senior bureaucrat said with more lions moving out of Gir Sanctuary and making other areas their home, mananimal conflicts are growing. He said though not many human casualties have been reported, number of animal killings has gone up by nearly 400 in a year. Officers said the lion population has increased because of proper conservation measures. They said apart from conservation steps taken by the forest department, people are also sensitive to the cause of lions conservation. "Villagers would often sacrifice their cattle for lion," said government officials.

Forest department is in the process of developing new sanctuaries which includes the Barda Dungar in Porbandar. The department declared Pania, Mitiyala and Gir as sanctuaries. The total area of these three sanctuaries put together is around 235 sq km and another 190 sq km, which is the area of Barda, is ready for shifting of lions. Officials said the carrying capacity of Gir Sanctuary was just 280 lions and hence, 70 lions have moved to Palitana, in Bhavnagar and to Porbandar.

Friday, June 19, 2009

ધારીના મોણવેલની સીમમાં એક-બે નહીં આઠ-આઠ સિંહબાળ : લોકોના ટોળેટોળાં

ગીરના જંગલમાં આ વર્ષે આસામાન્ય સંખ્યામાં બાળસિંહો જોવા મળતાં હોવાના દિવ્ય ભાસ્કરમાં પ્રસઘ્ધિ થયેલા અહેવાલને સમર્થન મળતું હોય તેમ બગસરા નજીક આવેલ ધારી તાલુકાના મોણવેલ ગામે બે સિંહણ અને એક સિંહ સાથે આઠ-આઠ બાળ સાવજોએ વસવાટ કર્યોછે.
ધારી તાલુકાના મોણવેલ ગામથી વેકરિયા ગામ તરફ જતાં રસ્તા નજીકની સીમમાં ઉગાબાપુની વાડી પાસે બે સિંહણ અને એક સાવજે છેલ્લા ઘણા સમયથી વસવાટ કર્યોહતો. આ બન્નો સિંહણોએ એ જ સ્થળે આઠ બચ્ચાને જન્મ આપ્યો હતો. અત્યારે એ બચ્ચાઓની ઉમર એક થી દોઢ માસ જેવી જણાય છે.
આ વિસ્તારના ખેડૂતોના જણાવ્યા મુજબ પહેલા દસ બચ્ચા હતા પરંતુ અત્યારે તેમાંથી બે ગાયબ છે. આ સંજોગોમાં વનખાતું તપાસ કરે અને બાળ સાવજોને રક્ષણ આપે તે જરૂરી છે. અત્યારે તો સિંહદર્શન માટે એ સ્થળે ટોળે-ટોળાં ઊમટી રહ્યા છે.

સિંહોની સેકસભૂખ વધી, સંવનનનું ઋતુચક્ર તૂટયું

આવનારો સમય ગીર અભયારણ્યમાં વસવાટ કરતા સાવજો માટે માદકતાનો માહોલ લઈને આવી રહ્યો છે. ચોમાસામાં અને ખાસ કરીને ભાદરવો માસ જંગલના રાજા માટે સંવનનનો આદર્શ સમય ગણાય છે. આ સમયે સિંહ-સિંહણને ઉન્માદ ચરમસીમા પર હોય છે. સિંહણ ગર્ભ ધારણ કરે છે અને ૨૯૯થી ૩૦૦ દિવસ પછી બચ્ચાંને જન્મ આપે છે.
પરંતુ પાછલા એક દાયકામાં ગીરનું પ્રકત્તિચક્ર ડિસ્ર્ટબ થઈ ગયું છે તેની અસર સિંહ-સિંહણ પર પણ પડી છે. હવે માત્ર ભાદરવો નહીં પણ વર્ષના ગમે તે સમયે કામૂક સિંહ-સિંહણો સંવનન કરતા નજરે પડે છે અને બચ્ચાંનો જન્મ પણ વર્ષમાં ગમે ત્યારે થાય છે. એકંદરે કહી શકાય કે ગીરના સાવજો સંવનનનાં મુદે્ કુદરતના ક્રમને ચાતરી રહ્યાં છે.
એશિયાટીક લાયનની સંવનનની ઋતુ પ્રભાવિત થઈ હોવાનું નિષ્ણાતો પણ સ્વીકારી રહ્યા છે. પાછલા વર્ષોમાં આ વિસ્તારમાં અસાધારણ વરસાદ પડયો છે. ગરમી પણ અસાધારણ પડી છે. સંરક્ષણને કારણે ગીરની ઘટતા પણ વધી છે. એક સમયે સૂકા જંગલની વાવ્યમાં આવતું ગીર હવે ભેજયુકત બન્યું છે. જંગલી વૃક્ષોમાં આવતા ફળ-ફુલનું ઋતુચક્ર પણ પ્રભાવિત થયું છે.
દરિયાઈ પાણીની ખારાશ ગીરના કાંઠા સુધી પહોંચી છે. એક દાયકામાં જંગલની બહાર નીકળી ગયેલા સાવજોએ મેદાની ઈલાકાને રહેઠાણ તરીકે સ્વીકારી લીધો છે.જંગલના રાજાએ બદલાતી પ્રકત્તિ સાથે પોતાને એડજસ્ટ કર્યા છે. પરંતુ તેનાલીધે અન્ય ઘણા પરિવર્તનનો પણ આવ્યા છે. તેમાંનું એક પરિવર્તન સાવજોના સંવનન કાળને લગતું પણ છે.
ધારીના પ્રકત્તિ નિષ્ણાત ડો. મનુભાઈ ભરાડ જણાવે છે કે, સાચી રીતે સિંહોનો આદર્શ સંવનનકાળ ૨૧ ઓગસ્ટથી ૧૯ સપ્ટેમ્બર વચ્ચે હોય છે, જે રીતે કૂતરાંઓ માટે ભાદરવો મહિનો સંવનનકાળ ગણાય છે તેવું જ સાવજનું પણ છે. આ સિવાયના સમયે પણ જો સિંહ વધુ પડતો રોમેન્ટીક હોય અને સિંહણ તૈયાર હોય તો બન્નો સંવનન કરે છે.
પરંતુ એ હકીકત છે આવું અપવાદરૂપ કિસ્સામાં બનતું હોય છે. જયારે પાછલા થોડા સમયથી સિંહ-સિંહણને મેટિંગના સમાચાર વર્ષમાં ગમે ત્યારે આવે છે. કુદરતનો ક્રમ આ વન્યપ્રાણીઓ ચાતરી રહ્યા છે. વર્ષમાં કોઈપણ સમયે સંવનની ઘટના પ્રમાણમાં વધી રહી છે. આ વાત ચોક્કસપણે અસાધારણ છે.
જંગલખાતાના એક કર્મચારીએ નામ નહીં આપવાની શરતે જણાવ્યું હતું કે, વરસાદ હોય કે, શિયાળો હોય કે ઉનાળો સિંહ-સિંહણના સંવનનના ખબર અમારી પાસે ગમે ત્યારે આવી પડે છે. જે અમારા માટે પણ નવાઈની વાત છે.
સિંહો અંગે ગીર જંગલમાં અનેક પ્રકારનું સંશોધન ચાલી રહ્યું છે પરંતુ તેના સંવનનકાળમાં થઈ રહેલા આ ફેરફાર અંગે ઉચ્ચ અધિકારીઓ પણ કયારેય ઘ્યાન આપતા નથી. ખરેખર તો દરેક સિંહનું લોકેશન કર્મચારીઓને ખબર હોય છે. તેમના સંવનનનાં સમયની વ્યવસ્થિત નોંધ થાય. બચ્ચાંના જન્મ વિગેરે બાબતોને ઘ્યાનમાં રાખી આ ફેરફાર અંગે વ્યવસ્થિત અભ્યાસની આવશ્યકતા છે.
અમરેલીના જાણીતા પર્યાવરણવિદ્ કહે છે ગ્લોબલ વોિર્મંગની અસર પ્રકત્તિ પર પડી છે. વાતાવરણ ડહોળાયું છે. તેની અસર વનરાજોની જીવનશૈલી પર પણ પડી છે. વસંતઋતુ કામ પદા કરે છે. તેથી આ સઝિનમાં પણ સિંહ-સિંહણ ઘોરામાં આવી જાય છે. પરિણામે વર્ષના ચોમાસા સવિાયના દિવસોમાં પણતેઓ સેકસ ભોગવતા નજરે પડે છે. વળી સિંહોની સંખ્યા પણ વધી હોવાથી આવુ વધારે લાગી રહ્યું છે.
અલબત્ત ગીર પૂર્વના ડીએફઓ મુનિશ્વર રાજાના મત મુજબ પ્રકત્તિના નિયમોમાં જાજા ફેરફારને અવકાશ નથી. પ્રકત્તિ તેનું કામ કરતી રહે છે. વૈજ્ઞાનિક દ્દષ્ટિકોણથી હું નહીં શકુ કે મોટાપાયે આવો કોઈ ફેરફાર થઈ રહ્યો છે.
જીવનશૈલીના ફેરફારોનો અભ્યાસ જરૂરી
ગીર નેચર યૂથ કલબના પ્રમુખ અમિત જેઠવા કહે છે ચોક્કસપણે સિંહોની જીવનશૈલીમાં આ પ્રકારનો ફેરફાર જોવા મળી રહ્યો છે. ગીરના જંગલને અનેક બાબતોએ પ્રભાવિત કર્યું છે. પ્રકત્તિનો ખો નીકળી રહ્યો છે ત્યારે પ્રકત્તિના એકભાગ સમા સાવજ તેનાથી કઈ રીતે બાકાત રહી શકે? આ દિશામાં ખરેખર તો એક અભ્યાસ શરૂ કરવાની જરૂર છે.
એક વાત ચોક્કસ છે કે, જંગલખાતાના અધિકારીઓ પ્રકત્તિના નિયમો જરૂર જાણે છે તેમાં થઈ રહેલા ફેરફારો પણ જાણે છે પરંતુ આ ફેરફારના કારણે થઈરહેલી અસરોનો અભ્યાસ કરવાની દિશામાં તે વિચારતા પણનથી. ખરેખર તો વૈજ્ઞાનિક અભિગમ સાથે અભ્યાસની જરૂરી છે.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Maldharis back in forest ?

Maldharis back in forest ?
The forest department of the Gir, which is conserving lion habitat, has come under scanner after being accused of conniving with Maldharis.
The Maldharis, who continue to reside in the forest area despite getting land elsewhere in the government's resettlement scheme, are being encouraged by forest officials to stay rooted in the reserved forest area, claimed Anil Chudasama, who moved a petition against forest department in the high court on Thursday.
Chudasama had brought a land plot in Mendarda through registered sale deed from ancestors of one Maldhari Raja Amra Rabari. Chudasama approached the court after the forest officials stopped him from doing any activities on the plot.
"Heirs of Raja Amra who are residing at Gangajalia ness (habitat of Maldharis in forest) are occupying the forest area along with their families and cattle herd. The forest department slaps small fines on them from time to time without prosecuting them," alleged Chudasama in affidavit.
"Similarly, many other Maldharis have sold their land and stay in Gangajalia nes, Vanivav ness, Kathi Alwadi ness and Amrutwell ness," said Chudasama.
Interestingly, the forest department had also moved the high court for obtaining permission to remove Maldharis from the reserved area. The court had, however, turned down the request saying the government already had power to do so. Chudasama, however, alleged that Maldharis were staying in reserved forest area with the blessings of forest department.
According to the details furnished by the collector of Junagadh, 279 transactions have taken place over the land in eight talukas of Junagadh - 21 in Mendarda, 49 in Talala, 10 in Keshod, 103 in Mangrol, 41 in Visavadar, 11 in Manavadar, four in Malia and 40 in Una.
On the other hand, the forest department data say 300 plots have been sold to the third party in those talukas.

HC reserves order on sale of 300 Gir plots

HC reserves order on sale of 300 Gir plots
Justice MR Shah of the Gujarat high court on Friday reserved order on 300 land plots near the Gir reserve forest area.
Justice Shah had directed the local authorities to conduct a survey on Monday to find out the status of the plots owned by Anil Chudasama, who had filed a petition against the forest department.
The direction came after Chudasama countered the claim of forest department.
“According to a notification of the state government issued in 1997, the land does not fall under the jurisdiction of forest department but under the revenue department,” argued VM Trivedi, counsel for Chudasama. “The forest department therefore can’t restrain him from cultivation activity,” he added.
The high court had suggested the state government that the Junagadh collector and the chief conservator of forest shall jointly examine 588 cases of allotment of plots for resettlement of Maldharis and ascertain as to whether the said plots fell within the sanctuary forest area or revenue area.
Chudasama had bought a plot of land near Mendarada taluka from a Maldhari who was given the plot under the rehabilitation scheme by the state government in 1982. Chudasama recently approached the high court when the forest department objected to cultivation activity on the land. Meanwhile, it came to light that as many as 300 plots, which were given to Maldharis under the resettlement scheme, were bought by third parties.
The high court raised serious objection to selling of such plots and asked the Junagadh collector and the forest department to furnish details about such transfer of ownership of land.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Junagadh zoo, proud owner of two Cheetah couples

The Junagadh Zoo in Gujarat has shot into the limelight for being the only place in India to possess two pairs of rare and endangered Cheetah.
The four wild cats, who were flown in here yesterday from a Singapore zoo in exchange for two Asiatic lioness and a lion, were trying to adapt to their new habitat at Sakkarbag Zoo in the Gir forest area here.
Sakkarbag Zoo superintendent V M Rana told UNI today that the Cheetahs have been kept in quarantine as there is a danger of their getting some infection.
A special reverse osmosis water plant has been installed to provide pure water to the Cheetahs, Mr Rana said adding that the animals were being served hygienic food under the supervision of veterinary doctors and other experts, who are keeping a round-the-clock vigil using close circuit televisions.
Cheetahs, considered the fastest animal, have become extinct from the country during 1947 and from almost all the jungles of Asia since last 80 years.
Those kept in few zoos have also perished.
Under the exchange programme, Cheetahs have been brought here from Singapore for breeding purpose in a closed enclosure and later if the experiment succeeded, the wild cats would be released in the Gir forest, the abode of Asiatic lions.
According to Mr Rana, the Sakkarbag zoo has over 900 wild animals, including 42 lions and 48 leopards. Over eight lakh people visit the zoo every year.
He said the Cheetah was said to have been last spotted in Vankaner in the Saurashtra region in 1910. The city has a place called ”Cheetah Khana Chowk” which establishes its connection with the endangered animal.
The Nawab of Junagadh Mahobatkhan had Cheetahs in his personal zoo some 150 years ago and he was the one to have established the Sakkarbag Zoo in 1863.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

About Gir National Park

Gir National Park, Sasan
About Gir National Park
Gir National Park is around 1400 sq km hilly tract of dry deciduous forests, acacia scrub, evergreen and semi-evergreen forests and grasslands, comprised by flowing rivers and streams. Among the many water-bodies in the reserve is the Kamleshwar Dam, known for its huge crocodile population.
This natural vista was in the beginning guarded by the Royal family of Junagarh, after British viceroys brought his attention to the plight of the lion in Asia, that the sanctuary is the gem of Gujarat’s ecological balance. Gir National Park is the only habitat for the Great Asiatic Lions in India. The Gir National Park stretches out in the Gujarat peninsula in North-Western part of India. The terrain in and around the national park is rugged with low hills and the vegetation is mixed deciduous with Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Dhak and Tendu trees, sprinkled with patches of grasslands. The trees on the hills are sparse and stunted. Inside the sanctuary, there are several human settlements of cattle herders with abundance of livestock population that forms a significant part of the Lion’s diet.
Wildlife in Gir National Park
Gir National Park is chiefly renowned for the seriously endangered species of Asiatic Lions. The Asiatic lions of Gir are slightly smaller than the African Lions. There are more than 300 Asiatic Lions in Gir and they are best viewed at dawn or dusk when they are on the patrol for predating. Apart from the legendary Asiatic lions, the Gir wildlife sanctuary is home to a number of other animals such as Blue bull (Nilgai), Sambhar, Indian Gazelle (Chinkara), Black Bucks, four horned Antelope, Wild Boar, crocodiles, Grey Musk Shrew, Indian Flying Foe, Indian Hare, Small Indian Mongoose, Pale Hedgehog, Small Indian Civet, Indian Pangolin, Ratel, Indian Porcupine, Fox and Jackal. The Jungle Cat, Desert Cat and the Rusty Spotted Cat also inhabit the Gir forest. The Gir forest is also rich in avian fauna and about 300 species are found inhabiting Gir National Park of which the most common is the peafowl.
Flora Of Gir
The Gir National Park is a mixed deciduous forest with teak, flame of the forest, some Acacia and Banyan trees. A diverse belt of vegetation is found along the main rivers and streams. Species like the Karanj, Umro, Jamun, Vad, Kalam, Charal, Sirus and Amli are found here. These trees are mostly broad leaved and evergreen, providing the area a cool shade and the moisture comfort.
More Happenings of Gir
Jeep Safari:
The greatest way to spectacle the big cats is, undoubtedly, in their natural habitat, at the time of dawn and dusk, when they are on the prowl. Wildlife viewing in the Gir’s is best done, by driving through tourist vehicle in the forest.
Tribal Village: Some of the tribes still exists in the interiors of the park co-existing with the wild animals. A visit to these tribal villages is an exciting experiences that introduces the visitors to the unique lifestyle and ways of living of the tribal people.
Nearby Cities: The historic town of Junagarh has a number of attractions that include forts, palaces and gardens. Shopping options in the town abound with ethnic Rajasthani goods is also a good deal.
Best Time to Visit Gir
Wildlife lovers can visit Gir park throughout the year, but the best time to visit the Gir National Park is between the months of November and June.
How To Reach
By Railways:
The nearest rail stations are Sasan Gir and Veraval, while the most convenient is Rajkot.
By Airways: Nearest airport is Keshod and diu (UT), while it will be ideal to travel by air is Rajkot and a rental vehicle can be obtained from here. Another major airport is Ahmedabad, connected to Delhi through daily flights.
By Roadways: Gir is situated at a distance of 400-kms from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda.

Friday, February 27, 2009

the World Zoo Today

SoCal aquarium blames flooding on curious octopus
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 05:54 PM PST
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Staff at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in California say the trickster who flooded their offices with sea water was armed. Eight-armed, to be exact. They blame the soaking they discovered Tuesday morning on the aquarium’s resident two-spotted octopus, a tiny female known for being curious and gregarious with visitors. The octopus apparently tugged on a valve and that allowed hundreds of gallons of water to overflow its tank.
Aquarium spokeswoman Randi Parent says no sea life was harmed by the flood, but the brand new, ecologically designed floors might be damaged by the water.

Georgia Aquarium Adds Great Hammerhead Sharks
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 05:51 PM PST
Aquarium now has largest collection on display in North America
The Georgia Aquarium released two new great hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna mokarran) into the Ocean Voyager gallery, built by The Home Depot. The Aquarium now houses three great hammerhead sharks, giving it the largest collection of the species on display in North America and one of only two aquariums in the country to feature it.
A male and female shark, ranging five to seven feet in length and weighing between 44-89 lbs, were introduced into the 6.3 million gallon exhibit, where they join a male hammerhead shark that has been at Georgia Aquarium since 2005. The average length for an adult female is 8.2 to 18 feet (2.5 - 5.5 m), while a male is about 7.6 and 11 feet (2.3 - 3.4 m) long. The maximum size recorded for a great hammerhead is 19.7 feet (6 m). The hammerheads are an exciting addition to the various species of shark currently on display in Ocean Voyager including zebra sharks, black-tip reef sharks, tasseled wobbegongs, sand tiger sharks and the world’s largest fish, whale sharks.
The recently added great hammerhead sharks came from waters surrounding the Florida Keys and were brought to the Georgia Aquarium. The species is found worldwide in temperate areas, favoring coastal areas and continental shelves. In the Atlantic Ocean, they are found from North Carolina south to Uruguay including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
Listed as globally endangered by IUCN, the great hammerhead shark is often subject to over-fishing. While their meat is rarely consumed, their skin is processed into leather and their liver oil is used for vitamins. With the addition of the two new hammerhead sharks, the Georgia Aquarium continues its mission to promote awareness and protection of aquatic animals.

Cute Alert: Meet LA Zoo’s New Meerkats
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 05:15 PM PST
By Olsen
LOS ANGELES — A new batch of meerkats has joined the Los Angeles Zoo, it was announced Thursday.
Four of the furry mammals came from the North Carolina Zoo and are housed in the meerkat habitat near the zoo’s flamingos.
“These four youngsters scurry around the habitat, dig for food and are extremely curious about all the sights and sounds of their new habitat,” the zoo said in a statement.
The fifth meerkat, Barky, was brought in from the Virginia Zoo as a companion to Chico, an older meerkat whose companion had passed away. Because the animals are highly territorial and rarely introduce new members to their gang, Chico lived at the LA Zoo as a solitary animal.
“As Chico is an older meerkat with some missing teeth and arthritis, he would not have been able to defend himself against a group. When zoo staff learned about Barky, an older male at the Virginia Zoo, the decision was made to bring Barky to Los Angeles as a companion for Chico. Barky and Chico live in the Children’s Zoo, where a special exhibit has been prepared for the two older animals with nest boxes and easier climbing opportunities,” the zoo said in a statement.
“As one of our older residents, Chico requires some special care, so we knew introducing him to a group probably wasn’t in his best interest. We were happy to work with the Virginia Zoo to provide a companion animal for him. Now we have two mobs and it’s a great opportunity for our visitors to observe meerkats,” said states zoo director John Lewis.
Native to southern Africa, meerkats inhabit complex systems of burrows in dry, open country. They either dig these burrows themselves or they acquire and share them with African ground squirrels or yellow mongooses.
Meerkats live in matriarchal groups called mobs. These mobs are comprised of an alpha mating pair, their pups and other adults. Each member has a special role. Non-alpha females baby-sit pups, protecting and nourishing them. Sentries stand on high ground and scan the surrounding area for predators while the rest of the mob forages for food. Teachers or mentors train weaned pups how to hunt, forage and protect themselves. Meerkats are omnivorous. Their diet consists of insects, larvae, ground-nesting birds, eggs, centipedes, small rodents, reptiles and scorpions.
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the 134 and 5 freeways. Admission is $12 for adults and $7 for children (ages 2 to 12). The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call 323-644-4200 or visit
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GIANT STINGRAY PICTURE: Largest Freshwater Fish?
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 04:49 PM PST
February 24, 2009–Fishers and scientists announced this week the catch, and release, of what is likely the world’s largest known freshwater giant stingray.
The giant stingray, weighing an estimated 550 to 990 pounds (250 to 450 kilograms) was reeled in on January 28, 2009, as part of a National Geographic expedition in Thailand.
The stringray’s body measured 6.6 feet (2 meters) wide by 6.9 feet (2.1) meters long. The tail was missing. If it had been there, the ray’s total length would have been between 14.8 and 16.4 feet (4.5 and 5 meters), estimated University of Nevada Biologist Zeb Hogan.
Hogan was in Thailand searching for giant fish as part of the Megafishes Project—an effort to document Earth’s 20 or so freshwater giants.
The new find gives Hogan hope that the giant stingray, once overfished, may be more abundant than previously thought. And it may confirm the giant stingray as the heavyweight champ of the Megafishes Project.
“Honestly, we just don’t know how much it weighed. But it’s clear that the giant stingray has the potential to be the largest freshwater fish in the world,” said Hogan, also a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. (National Geographic News is owned by the National Geographic Society.)
“The Thai populations were once considered critically endangered, although with the discovery of new populations the stingray’s abundance appears higher than previously believed,” added Hogan. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists the freshwater giant stingray as vulnerable.
Last March Hogan found a 14-foot-long (4.3-meter-long) ray near the Thai city of Chachoengsao. (See previous giant stingray news and video.)
Freshwater giant stingrays are among the largest of the approximately 200 species of rays. They can be found in a handful of rivers in Southeast Asia and northern Australia.
Much is still unknown about the mammoth ray species, including whether or not it can swim out to and survive at sea. The species was first described scientifically only in 1989.
Hogan and his colleagues are still looking for new varieties and populations of the giant stingray.
–Tasha Eichenseher
Photograph courtesy Zeb Hogan
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Love Match Results in Baby Joy for an Endangered Species at Bristol Zoo Gardens
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 10:17 AM PST
Keepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens are celebrating the birth of an unusual endangered species.
A baby Malagasy giant jumping rat has been born in the Zoo’s Nocturnal House - Twilight World - after a ‘love match’ was made to help boost the European captive population.
Bristol Zoo has not bred this unusual, rabbit-like species for more than four years, so a female jumping rat was brought in from a zoo in Prague in the hope that she would breed with the Zoo’s male.
The new pair was introduced in November and within weeks the female was pregnant, giving birth in a quiet, off-show enclosure in mid January. Now the new family has gone on show in Twilight World for the first time.
The sex of the baby is still unknown but keepers are monitoring the youngster’s progress. Katie Cummins, a small mammal keeper at Bristol Zoo, said: “The birth of this baby is great news for Bristol Zoo as well as for the European captive breeding population. The baby is doing very well, gaining strength and becoming more adventurous, but it still stays close to mum and dad who are proving to be very attentive new parents.”
Giant jumping rats are only found in Madagascar - a small island off the east coast of Southern Africa in the western Indian Ocean.
The species is listed on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List for endangered species, with a decreasing population currently estimated at around 11,000.
At current rates of habitat loss and predation, it is predicted that the species could be extinct in the wild within about 24 years.
There are just 52 giant jumping rats in captivity in Europe, five of which are at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
For more information about Bristol Zoo Gardens, or to find out how to adopt an animal, visit the zoo website at or phone 0117 974 7300.

Reid Park Zoo’s king of the jungle gets new queen
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 09:03 AM PST
The king of the jungle is getting a queen at the Reid Park Zoo.
Kaya, a 16-month-old female African lioness, arrived at the zoo last week and will soon be joining male African lion Kitabu in his habitat.
She’s currently in quarantine, just to make sure she’s “super-healthy” before she’s introduced into the zoo’s population, education curator Vivian VanPeenen said.
The two lions will be more roommates than anything else, as Kitabu had a vasectomy in December.
Even though they won’t be mating, Kaya is expected to bring a playful bounce back into the habitat.
“She will challenge Kitabu to put pep back in his step,” VanPeenen said. Kitabu is still a young 16 years old, and he’s expected to become even more spry with a younger pal.
“She is full grown but still has that sort of baby look to her,” VanPeenen said of the lioness.
Kaya hails from the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, where her keepers described her as “bold and independent.”
“They said she was incredibly inquisitive and very playful,” VanPeenen said.
A third lion at the Reid Park Zoo, old man M’bali who is 21, will not interact with Kaya.
He’ll stay in the large area behind the scenes when Kaya and Kitabu are in the main exhibit. The lions will be rotated, with the duo behind the scenes when M’bali is on exhibit.
“People will never see all three lions together at once,” VanPeenen explained.
The zoo’s previous female, A-Tatu, used to trade off spending time with both males. She was euthanized in October at age 21 because of her quality of life was diminished due to ailments like progressive arthritis.
Kaya, however, may be a bit much for M’bali to deal with.
“For geriatric animals, it’s too much of a challenge,” VanPeenen said.
She said Kaya should be out of quarantine in another two to three weeks.
Prior to Kaya, the most recent additions to the zoo were three little pigs - Visayan warty pigs, to be exact. Pearl, Dakila and Calaya came to the Reid Park Zoo in July.
A Pig Party is planned for the trio at 1 p.m. Sunday, which is National Pig Day.
“We never had pigs before,” VanPeenen said. “This is new for the zoo.”
The Pig Party will feature pig crafts, activities, a warty pig training demonstration and a pig parade for the kids.
The party is free with regular admission to the zoo.
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First Pics of Baby Camel at Detroit Zoo
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 08:15 AM PST
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) - The Detroit Zoo introduced its newest addition to the family Wednesday. A 9-month-old baby camel named Suren has arrived.
Suren is a female Bactrian camel. She can be seen in the camel yard along with 12-year-old Princess and 13-year-old Boris. The name Suren is Mongolian for “majestic”.
“Suren represents the new and younger generation of animals to join the Detroit Zoo,” said Curator of Mammals Bob Lessnau.
The calf stands 6-feet tall and weighs approximately 500 pounds. When she matures into an adult she could stand up to 7-feet tall and weigh

up to 1,500 pounds.
Bactrian camels grow thick winter coats to keep warm and shed them in the summer months. They have two humps compared to the dromedary camel which has one hump.
There is an easy way to remember this piece of camel trivia. Just turn the first letter of the camel’s name on its side. “B” for Bactrian has a double hump and “D” for dromedary has a single hump.
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Shedd Aquarium’s most popular sights to return in May
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 07:07 AM PST
By William Mullen Tribune reporter
Shedd Aquarium’s celebrated collection of marine mammals, missing in action since the aquarium shut down the Oceanarium in September to recoat its whale and dolphin pools, will be back on display beginning May 22.
The beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea otters and penguins will return from temporary homes in the next few weeks to repopulate the giant indoor pavilion. The popular marine mammal show, which is being totally revamped, will not debut until later in the summer, Shedd President Ted Beattie said Wednesday.
While the 3 million-gallon whale and dolphin pools will not change much in appearance, Beattie said many other spaces in the Oceanarium are being transformed.
The underwater exhibit area has been reconfigured as a play and learning area aimed at children ages 2 to 7. While all visitors will be able to view whales, dolphins, penguins and otters through the underwater viewing windows, the rest of the space will be taken up with a Polar Play Zone, where kids can learn about cold-water ocean environments, wear costumes, and view specially adapted animals such as fish, octopuses and sea stars.
In the Oceanarium amphitheater, workers have installed a stream that tumbles from top to bottom. A “River Mouth Habitat” will display salt-tolerant fish and invertebrates that live in the Pacific Northwest where freshwater rivers spill into the ocean.
Also later this summer, the Oceanarium plans to unveil a new exhibit in its whale pool where visitors will be allowed to meet and touch beluga whales in a behind-the-scenes look at how trainers work with the animals. A special fee will be charged.
Visitors will go through 90 minutes of training before donning waders to meet trainers and animals on a shelf in the pool. They will be able to touch the whales and perhaps even listen to their heartbeats through stethoscopes, said Shedd spokesman Roger Germann.
The $50 million renovation included redoing Shedd’s food services as well as remodeling its Oceanarium retail shop and temporary exhibit gallery.
Beginning Thursday the Shedd is offering a $3.95 discount on advance ticket sales for the opening, charging $25 for adults and $18 for seniors and children. The tickets, good through June 28, can be purchased online at or by calling 800-982-2787.
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Farewell to Sunita
Posted: 26 Feb 2009 06:04 AM PST
by Wild Animal Park Asian Elephant Team
Sadly, 60-year-old Sunita, the oldest elephant at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, passed away on Wednesday, February 25. She had lived at the Wild Animal Park since 1974 and had been receiving specialized care because of her advanced age. She will be much missed.
Nita was one of the smartest, most personable elephants around. Everyone loved her. And if for some reason you didn’t, she found a way to win you over. She did all sorts of things to get your attention: give you gifts of dirt or hay, make sounds like she swallowed a lion, or pick up her foot like she was injured. If you ignored all of that, you might receive a blast of water expertly aimed to soak you. But her antics were

always in good fun.
One of our favorite Nita quirks was her love of putting objects in her tusk sockets to look like she had longer tusks. We joked that she wanted to be an African elephant. We were always delighted when she removed the “tusk” and handed it to us as a gift. Nita loved being with people, and she regularly preferred our company to food.
At the Wild Animal Park, she charmed our guests in demonstrations and was always willing to show off for people. In her early days here, she played tug-of-war with thousands of wide-eyed school kids. She always won.
If Nita found an object that one of the staff wanted to retrieve from the yard, she knew she could bargain with us for an exchange. She also understood that if she broke it into several pieces, she had more to bargain with and could get several apples instead of just one.
In the past year, we knew that age was finally catching up with Nita. She slowed down a bit, and we even started chopping up her hay so she could chew it better. However, it became evident in the past week that she was really sick. We gave her everything that we could think of: special treats, extra love, attention, and care. But despite our efforts, we had to accept that the best thing for Nita was to let her go and humanely euthanize her.
Nita was an elephant ambassador for her species. She brightened all our lives and those of anyone else fortunate enough to meet her. We all feel lucky to have known her.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fire in Gir lion sanctuary

A fire broke out in a sanctuary near the lion haven of Gir yesterday, but officials who put out the blaze after 12 hours said the animals were safe.
“There are no reports of any animal casualties in Mitiyala,” said Gujarat principal secretary (forest) S.K. Nanda, referring to the Amreli district sanctuary that is home to six to eight lions. Gir and Mitiyala are only 6km apart.
Nanda said it took more than 300 firefighters to put out the blaze that began around 3 last afternoon.…Amreli wildlife activist Amit Jethwa said such fires had become common this time of the year, when temperatures rise and strong winds sweep the arid land. “The authorities should properly investigate the fire, which has become a regular phenomenon.”
The fires are being seen since 2004, when the Mitiyala grassland spread over 18sqkm was declared a sanctuary, Jethwa said. Mitiyala is a corridor for the Asiatic lions on their way to Palitana, a part of Gir.

Friday, January 30, 2009

“Chakra was a very popular addition to the zoo.”

Zoo mourns the loss of lion cub
Jan 30 2009 by Allison Dickinson, Chester Chronicle
CHESTER Zoo is mourning the tragic loss of their five-month-old Asiatic lion cub, Chakra.
Veterinary staff were faced with the difficult decision to put him to sleep on the evening of Friday, January 9.
The cub, born in August 2008, had been diagnosed with a developmental disorder which became more apparent as he grew and became more active.
Chakra was the second cub born to mum Asha and dad Asoka.
Kevin Buley, head of zoo programmes, said: “Chakra’s birth and subsequent bond with his parents was a cause for celebration and understandably there is now a feeling of devastation at this tragic turn of events.
“Initially, we were delighted that Asha and her cub were doing so well and did little to interfere in the bonding process.
“However it became apparent that Chakra was experiencing some difficulties which, despite the best efforts of our veterinary and keeping staff, led to this sad event.”
Kevin also paid tribute to the zoo’s dedicated carnivore team for their part in helping Asha, Asoka and Chakra to unite.
He added: “Our carnivore team, led by team leader Alan Woodward, worked tirelessly to enable the family to successfully bond and their dedication had paid dividends. The team is understandably very upset at Chakra’s death and our sympathies and support are with them.
“Chakra was a very popular addition to the zoo.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to reach Gir National Park and Sanctuary ?

Sasan Gir, Gujarat - Gir National Park and Sanctuary
Gir Sanctuary and National ParkGir is undoubtedly the jewel of Saurashtra the dry and drought-prone region of Gujarat, Spread over 1412 Sq. Kms. of rolling land with dry deciduous forest, Gir is best known as the last wild abode of the Asiatic lion.

The Gir National Park and Sanctuary are an out-and-out heaven of biological variety. Apart from the 300 odd lions, Gir is also home to around 250 leopards, and a number of other small carnivores like the wild cat, jackal and the striped hyena.

There are also many Nilgai, Sambar, Chowsinga, Chinkara and Chital with the Chital population in the 50,000 range. Amazing isn’t it? Gir is also supposed to be home to some rare animals like the Pangolin and the Rattle python.

There are around 300 species of birds and a phenomenal 2000 + species of insects flitting about the dry scrub jungle. Some of the birds found here are - Flycatchers, Warblers, Parakeets, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, Crested serpent eagle, Paradise flycatcher, Blossom Headed parakeet, Small blue kingfisher, Golden backed woodpecker and the Indian pitta.

Biological diversity at Gir -

Mammals: 38 Species

Reptiles: 32 Species

Amphibians: 10 Species

Birds: 300 + Species

Plants: 500 + Species

Insect Family: 2000 + Species

Sanctuary Visit -

The Sanctuary can be visited only during the daytime between sunrise and sunset. Sanctuary visit permits are issued at the Reception Center on request and after filling the necessary form. Guides and vehicles are available on hire at the Reception Center on first come first served basis. The permits are issued at around 6:30 am and people and agents begin queuing up as early as 5:00am. We reached the Reception Center at 8:00am though :)

Entry Fee to Gir Sanctuary

I felt that there was no order at the Reception Centre what with people jostling about, pushing each other. There were no proper instructions put up as to the procedure of obtaining permits and the timings. People staying at Sinh Sadan, the Forest Department Guest House, which is in the same premises as the Reception Centre were up early and formed a queue to obtain the Permits. The agents and other travelers who were staying elsewhere had formed a queue outside the closed gate of the Sinh Sadan. This gate was opened only at 5:30am and people rushed in like mad.

We learnt that are a fixed number or Vehicular permits allowed in a day and half of these could be booked in advance. Out of the remaining, few are reserved for the DFO’s.

The rest are available for current booking – The number of people in the queue outnumbered the number of permits available. It was jostle, push, and fights. We stayed put in a corner just watching all this unfold. Each vehicle can seat a minimum of six people. Luckily, we found a family of four and clubbed with them to book a Vehicle.

A guide is must on all the vehicles that go into the sanctuary. Guide fees have to be paid directly to the guides.

Permit Issue Timings :

16th Oct to 15th Feb

Permit Issue Timing: 06.30 - 10.30 hrs

Sanctuary Visit: 07.00 - 12.00 hrs

Permit Issue Timing: 15.00 - 17.00 hrs

Sanctuary Visit: 15.00 - Sunset

16th Feb to 15th June

Permit Issue Timing: 06.30 - 11.00 hrs

Sanctuary Visit: 07.00 - 12.00 hrs

Permit Issue Timing: 16.00 - 17.30 hrs

Sanctuary Visit: 16.00 - Sunset

These were the timings when we visited Gir in December 2008. Please check with the officials when you plan to visit though.

As mentioned above there are two time zones to visit the Gir Sanctuary – 7 am to 12 pm

and 3pm – Sunset.

There are 8 possible routes for the Sanctuary visit. Not sure if visitors are allowed to choose a route.

The visit to the Sanctuary lasts around 3-4 hours and lion spotting depends on the season and your luck :) We spotted a lot of deer, Sambar, chital but no lions.


Sinh Sadan is the Forest Department Guest House. It is located very near to the Sasan Railway Station. Just a 5 minute walk. The bookings for the Guest House Rooms are done in the office of the Guest House Manager.

You can book in advance by writing to The Guest House Manager, Sinh Sadan, Sasan - 362 135along with a DD, for one day room charges, in favor of the Guest House Manager.

Sinh Sadan was a well-kept place. There are AC and Non AC rooms. There is a Dining Hall too. You need to place your order a little before mealtime.

There are many langurs on the premises of Sinh Sadan. However, they were not coming close to the humans - they were busy munching on the lovely rose plants in the Sinh Sadan garden. There were lot of squirrels too and these did not seem scared of human company.

How to reach Sasan?

Ahmedabad - Sasan : 408 kms

Rajkot - Sasan : 165 kms

Junagadh - Sasan : 60 kms

Keshod - Sasan : 60 kms

Veraval - Sasan : 45 kms.

Diu - Sasan : 110 kms.

Nearest Airport, Keshod : 60 kms

We took a train to Sasan as the train chugs down the jungle. We spotted herds of deer during the train journey. The train travel through Gir forests was a wonderful and unforgettable experience.

Places to Visit in Sasan

Crocodile Rearing Centre - Situated in the Forest Department office complex this centre was created to rear crocodile hatchling to be subsequently released in the wild. There are some crocodiles for public viewing at the centre. Nothing much, but since it is at a walking distance from Sinh Sadan, you can visit it.

Gir Interpretation Zone (GIZ) – It is located in Devaliya, around 12 kms from Sasan. It is a fenced area of 4.12 Sq. Kms, which represents typical Gir habitats and depicts model wildlife management practices.

Gir Orientation Centre - located in the premises of the Sasan Guest House campus provides basic factual and scientific information about Gir with the help of Interactive Photographs, Paintings and models.

Camera Fees for the Sanctuary Visit

Professional Photography (Per day / Camera)Still Photography (8 MP and above) - Indians 100 Rs, Foreign Nationals 10 $Documentary - Indians 5000 Rs, Foreign Nationals 500 $Feature Film - Indians 25000 Rs, Foreign Nationals 1000 $No camera fee for amateur photography by visitors, provided the camera is less than 8 MP.Security DepositsDocumentary - Indians 15000 Rs, Foreign Nationals 1000 $Feature Film - Indians 50000 Rs, Foreign Nationals 2000 $For more information contact

Deputy Conservator of Forests

Wildlife Divison, Sasan-Gir,

Dist. - Junagadh, Gujarat 362 135


Phone: +91 02877 285541

Fax: +91 02877 285641


Guest House Manager

Sinh Sadan, Sasan Gir,

Dist. Junagadh, Pin 362135

Gujarat, India

Phone: +91 02877 285540

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SC clears Amreli lion park

SC clears Amreli lion park
10 Jan 2009, 2255 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam okayed setting up of Ambardi Wildlife Interpretation Park in Amreli district, Gujarat, after state counsel Hemantika Wahi said the in-principle approval of Central Zoo Authority(CZA) for the park had been obtained.

She said, “The project would include a safari, an orientation centre and natural education facilities while keeping wild animals in natural conditions. But, the most important function of the park would be to help in the ongoing captive conservation breeding of Asiatic lions. Because of a shrinking prey base and growing lion population, many lions were found straying into Amreli district.”,prtpage-1.cms

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cubs remain in Oklahoma City Zoo’s pride

Cubs remain in Oklahoma City Zoo’s pride
November 5th, 2008 • RelatedFiled Under
Filed Under: Oklahoma City Zoo
Four lion cubs were born at the Oklahoma City Zoo one year ago this week, and they’re still drawing crowds.
The lions — Malaika, Zari, Kalliope and Xerxes — are playful, healthy and popular with zoo visitors, said Brian Aucone, the zoo’s director of animal management.
The cubs weighed about 3 pounds at birth, Aucone said, and now they’re each about 115 pounds.
The cubs have the same father but come from two mothers. Two were born Nov. 4 last year. The other two were born two days later. Aside from being close to one another, the lions also are more interested in their zookeepers than other lions in captivity, Aucone said. All four lions were delivered by Caesarean section, and keepers hand-fed them for several months. Now even as they get older, the cubs like to see their keepers and become excited when they hear their keys jingle.
The fate of the cubs is still up in the air, Aucone said. They may be moved to another zoo as part of a national breeding plan, but they may stay at the Oklahoma City Zoo.