Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Lioness mauls 3 in a village

18/12/2017
Lioness mauls 3 in a village
The Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/lioness-mauls-3-in-a-village/articleshow/62110775.cms

A lioness entered Khamba village near Gir forest on Sunday morning and attacked three villagers, while they were working in the field. After injuring two, it dragged a third to the outskirts of the village in Visavadar leaving him seriously injured. The victims of the lion attack are being treated at Civil Hospital in Amreli.

Forest officials said that two of the victims had received most injuries on legs, while one was seriously injured. The injured are Rajbha Jhala, 25, Vallabh Butani, 55, and Jenti Kapuriya, 45. Jhala was dragged by the lioness to the village outskirts. Two of the three are farmers and one a cowherd.

After the incident, senior forest officials and trackers have been camping in the area to cage the lioness and release it later into the wild far from human habitation. Forest officials said that somehow the lioness was irritated and thus attacked the villagers. After the attack, the two injured in the fields were immediately attended by emergency services and villagers, while the third victim was traced to a small culvert nearby, where he was battling for his life. The rescuers found the lioness perched on a small mound around 500 metres from the victim. Ultimately, 108-EMRI staff and villagers managed to drive off the lioness, rescue the victim and send him to Junagadh.

108-EMRI officials said they had received the rescue call at 9.08am and a team including Sahil Ratapiya, Sohil Dhaduk and Bharat Jhala had reached the spot. Villagers informed them of the third victim who was seriously injured and lying near the outskirts of the village.

"When the 108-staff reached the spot, they found that the lioness was sitting on the boundary wall and the victim was lying about 500 metres from it. Since the area was not motorable the staff had to go on foot risking attack. Along with the villagers, they drove off the lioness with loud noises. The victims were shifted to Civil Hospital in Amreli," said Chetan Gaadhe, district officer, Amreli, of 108-EMRI.

He added that one of the injured had told 108-staff that they had been working in the field when the lioness attacked.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Bhopal: Sick of waiting, state decides to populate Palpur with tigers

06/12/2017
Bhopal: Sick of waiting, state decides to populate Palpur with tigers
THE FREE PRESS JOURNAL
http://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/bhopal-sick-of-waiting-state-decides-to-populate-palpur-with-tigers/1182436

With Gujarat persistently refusing to allow translocation of lions from Gir National Park to MP's Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary, the state government has decided to populate the sanctuary with tigers. The decision was taken at a meeting of MP Wildlife Board presided over by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday.

Tigers cannot be translocated without the permission of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Sources said that the wildlife board has decided to go ahead with the decision without NTCA nod. Despite the Supreme Court ordering shifting of lions from Gir to Kuno-Palpur, the Gujarat government is not ready to part with its lions. The state government has not approached SC with a contempt petition in the matter. The SC has issued notices to union government and Gujarat government on a petition filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey. The petition has yet to come up for hearing. Madhya Pradesh has been trying to shift Gir lions to the state since long.

As chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had refused to allow translocation of lions. After Modi becoming the Prime Minister, the state government put the issue on the backburner. The government has spent millions on developing Kuno-Palpur for the lions. Many villages were relocated from inside the park.

2 kids attacked by tigers in my constituency: CM

At the meeting, the chief minister said that tough action should be taken against poachers of big cat. He said that urgent steps need to be taken to combat incidents of tigers being electrocuted or killed by other means. He said that the forest department should do everything needed for protecting tigers. But he said that the other side of the coin should also not be ignored. In his constituency Budhni, Chouhan said, tigers had attacked and injured two children. He said that five per cent of the amount spent on non-forestry projects executed within reserve forest areas should be deposited in the account of Tiger Foundation. At the meeting, wildlife experts said that with roads being constructed inside forests, tigers have started foraying into the urban areas.

Tired of Gujarat reluctance on Gir lions, MP to release tigers in Kuno

05/12/2017
Tired of Gujarat reluctance on Gir lions, MP to release tigers in Kuno
THE TIMES OF INDIA
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/tired-of-gujarat-reluctance-on-gir-lions-mp-to-release-tigers-in-kuno/articleshow/61937836.cms

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh seems to have given up the ambitious Asiatic lion translocation programme from Gir lion sanctuary in Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in MP.

After nearly two-decades of unsuccessful tussle with Gujarat over translocation of Gir lions to Kuno-Palpur sanctuary near Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday unofficially gave up hope on the project.

A Supreme Court order mandating the translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir sanctuary to Kuno-Palpur in MP could not move the Gujarat government from parting with the big cat.

Diluting its claim on the programme, MP government decided to release and rehabilitate tigers in the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary which they claim is ready.

"As the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary is ready to rehabilitate the big cats, we will now release tigers in the park," announced chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during State Wildlife Board meeting, hinting at a possible failure in getting the Asiatic lions from neighbouring state.

Chouhan's decision came in the view of the delay by the Gujarat government. Both the states are BJP-ruled and Gujarat government considered the lions as 'heritage of the state'. The leaders had also maintained that a decision of handing over lions would turn into a big political issue in Gujarat.

"A writ petition was filed in 1995 by the Centre for Environment Law and World Wildlife Fund India (WWF-I) in the Supreme Court to get the Gujarat government release 19 Asiatic lions for the Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary. The Supreme Court fast-tracked the case and delivered a judgement on April 16, 2013, permitting the reintroduction of lions to Kuno, over-ruling the objections of the Gujarat government. But, the order is yet to be complied," said a senior officer of MP Wildlife.

When contacted, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Animesh Shukla and PCCF (Wild Life) Jitendra Agrawal did not respond to the calls.

Sources said the decision to release tigers in Kuno-Palpur sanctuary clearly indicated that Madhya Pradesh government has given up hope on getting Gir lions from Gujarat.

"This is clear from the statement that Madhya Pradesh will not get Asiatic lions against Gujarat's will. Ironically, Asiatic lion is the nation's pride and do not belong to only one state. The decision to translocate the big cat was based on scientific research and to save the species from extinction as the single population faces threats of epidemics, natural disasters and other anthropogenic factors", retired IFS and wildlife expert Jagdish Chandra told TOI.

Officials said that Madhya Pradesh government had notified and evacuated 345 sq km area for Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in 1981 and an additional 900 sq km of buffer zone was created in 2015 but, have made no mention of notifying the buffer zone area as a sanctuary, which is being contended by Gujarat government.

Sources said, wildlife experts and officials of the ministry of environment and forests in a reversal position have also anticipated that without notifying the areas as a sanctuary, it would be detrimental to the breeding and survival of the lions as they lived in social prides.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Long term plan to increase number of tigers, leopards in State: CM

06/12/2017
Long term plan to increase number of tigers, leopards in State: CM
The Hitavada THE PEOPLE'S PAPER
http://thehitavada.com/Encyc/2017/12/6/Long-term-plan-to-increase-number-of-tigers,-leopards-in-State--CM.aspx

Staff Reporter,

Tigers to be kept in Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary

Five percent amount obtained from the non-forest works under State's protected areas will be deposited in Tiger Foundation Society. This amount will be used to undertake works of conservation and promotion of forests and wildlife. State's tigers will be kept in Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary.

These decisions were taken at a meeting of State Wildlife Board chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday. Forest Minister Dr Gaurishankar Shejwar was also present on the occasion.

CM said, during the meeting that a long term plan should be made to increase the number of tigers and leopards in State. Stern action should be taken in incidents of illegal hunting of tigers and death of tigers due to electrocution. Forest Department should consider tiger conservation with integrity. Efforts should be made to stop loss of life due to their entry in residential areas. Efforts should be made to increase grassland for conservation of Kharmore and Son Chiraiyya. Consider handing over the work of gas cylinder refill of Ujjwala Yojana in Vangrams to forest committees.

It was informed, in meeting that a notification of 21 eco-sensitive zones in protected areas of the State was released. A proposal for upgradation of Bithoula to Gokulpur Marg and Girwai to Tilli Factory Marg in Gwalior District's Ghatigaon area has been approved. Approval has been given to construct speed breakers in areas of Tiger crossings to avoid accidents of wild animals on road. Construction of rural road from Vineka to Borpani under Ratapani sanctuary was approved. Similiarly construction of Nirawali-Mohna road in Ghatigaon area has been approved.
Meanwhile, preparations are on for Tiger Census of 2018 in State. As many as 144 eco-tourism areas have been selected in State. About 1,000 people are connected in State with the close to my heart programme being run for wildlife conservation. For this a donation of Rs 300 has to be made.

Additional Chief Secretary Forests Deepak Khandekar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Animesh Shukla, non-government members of Wildlife Board and concerned officials were present on the occasion.

Gujarat’s no to share lions prompts Madhya Pradesh to climb down

06/12/2017
Gujarat's no to share lions prompts Madhya Pradesh to climb down
The indianEXPRESS
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarats-no-to-share-lions-prompts-madhya-pradesh-to-climb-down-4969931/

UNABLE TO get lions from Gujarat despite an order from the Supreme Court, the Madhya Pradesh Wildlife Board on Tuesday recommended release of tigers in the Kuno Palpur sanctuary created to provide an alternate home to the Asiatic lion.

The translocation project was conceived in the 1990s at the instance of the Wildlife Institute of India. The Gujarat government raised several objections and after a protracted legal battle, the apex court in 2013 ruled that some lions be shifted from Gir in Gujarat.

In 2014, the apex court threw out a curative petition, the last legal recourse available before Gujarat to stall the translocation. More than three years later, the order is yet to be followed, with the Gujarat government coming out with one reason or the other to scuttle the translocation.

When the state wildlife board meet began on Tuesday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan recommended that tigers be shifted from other areas because the 700-odd sq km sanctuary has remained unutilised.

Additional chief secretary (forest) Deepak Khandekar told The Indian Express that a male tiger has already been spotted at Kuno Palpur and efforts will be made to release a tigress. He said the board's recommendation, taken at the instance of the chief minister, was independent of the efforts to translocate lions from Gujarat. Asiatic lions are found only in Gir.

Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who has filed a contempt petition in the apex court citing undue delay in compliance, said the state wildlife board's decision amounted to contempt. The apex court had on November 14 issued notices to the Gujarat government and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Accusing Chief Minister Chouhan of betrayal, Dubey said he would move the court again to make the MP government a party in the contempt petition. The activist alleged that the BJP government in the state deliberately climbed down to allow the party-ruled government in Gujarat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to score brownie points ahead of the assembly elections. The MP wildlife board's recommendation will create an impression that Gujarat has won the battle and scuttled translocation to protect its USP, he said.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Madhya Pradesh at fault over delay in shifting of Gir lions

22/11/2017
Madhya Pradesh at fault over delay in shifting of Gir lions
THE TIMES OF INDIA
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/madhya-pradesh-at-fault-over-delay-in-shifting-of-gir-lions/articleshow/61751272.cms

BHOPAL: It is none other than delay in notification of Kuno wildlife sanctuary as a national park that has hampered the project of shifting Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh.

At the sixth meeting of the expert committee on translocation of Asiatic lions, the MP government was asked to notify the area by February 2017, but to no avail. This was the last condition imposed by a Supreme Court-appointed committee.

In January this year, Gujarat's forest department had placed its objections before this 12-member committee and demanded that 36 studies be completed before the endangered Gir lions can be transferred to MP. "Converting this wildlife sanctuary into a national park was the last condition MP was asked to comply with.

But they didn't. Both MP and Gujarat governments are delaying procedural formalities," alleged RTI activist Ajay Dubey, who has filed a contempt petition against both governments for "undue delay in compliance of Supreme Court's order in shifting of lions".

Issues like prey base, habitat, vegetation and weather are said to be conductive for shifting of lions to Kuno. The MP forest department had promised to complete all formal processes of declaring Kuno as a 'national park' by the end of February, but failed to do so following varied administrative problems, aid sources. The expert committee had visited Kuno last December.

After spending nearly five hours at the sanctuary, the panel members had found the atmosphere in Kuno-Palpur suitable for shifting of lions. Gujarat, too, could not question much on MP's preparedness to host the lions, sources said.

Gujarat government had moved a curative petition in Supreme Court as its last legal resort to retain its Asiatic lions. It was dismissed.

When shortage of prey base was cited as one of the major objections, the state declared 700 sq km as a protected area to resolve the issue. Sources said the prey base, which was presented before the court in 2013, was nearly 350 sq. km, which is the core sanctuary area.

While MP won the eight-year-long legal battle with Gujarat in 2013, the latter had been dilly-dallying compliance.

Madhya Pradesh had been trying to mollify Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, after the loss Gujarat might feel following the Supreme Court directive for relocation of Asiatic Lions from Gujarat's Gir sanctuary to Kuno-Palpur sanctuary.

MP government circles had gone to the extent of suggesting that they were not averse to retaining the tag of 'Gir' or 'Gujarat' to identify the relocated lions at their new home in Kuno-Palpur.

The move for relocation of big cats, first mooted in 2000, had been hanging fire ever since because Gujarat had steadfastly refused to part with the majestic lions since that state held the unique distinction of being home to the natural habitat of the only surviving Asiatic lions.

While conservationists insisted that diversifying the lions' habitat would ward off any natural, medical or man-made calamity that could wipe out the entire population of Gir's lions, Gujarat treated the issue as a matter of pride and wanted to retain its unique status to continue to attract the substantial tourist inflow to Gir.

After the Supreme Court finally resolved the issue in favour of relocation, Gujarat is left with little choice but to comply.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rajkot NGO joins lion translocation tussle in Supreme Court

20/11/2017
Rajkot NGO joins lion translocation tussle in Supreme Court
The Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/rajkot-ngo-joins-lion-translocation-tussle-in-sc/articleshow/61716935.cms

AHMEDABAD: The Supreme Court has allowed an NGO, Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot, to join a contempt petition filed by Ajay Dubey, a wildlife activist from Madhya Pradesh. Dubey has challenged the non-implementation of the SC order given in 2013, directing translocation of lions from Sasan Gir to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh.

The NGO has submitted that translocation of any wild animal, as defined in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, cannot be undertaken without the specific approval of the state. Citing behavioural concerns of lions the petitioner submitted that to order translocation without considering pride behaviour may act counterproductive to to survival of the big cats.

Tushar Gokani, advocate for the petitioner said, "We had during the hearing in the apex court sought permission and the court has permitted the trust to file an impleadment application in the contempt petition which is going on in the apex court." The apex court had issued notice to Gujarat government and has listed the petition for hearing in January.

Gokani further said the trust has also filed a fresh petition. That petition was listed for hearing on Friday, but since Madhya Pradesh wanted more time to submit some documents, the matter will now be listed after 10 weeks.

The NGO has submitted that Gujarat state has tried to put forward several arguments before the expert committee formed by the order of the Supreme Court dated April 15 this year, but the committee which was bound by the directions given in the judgement, was not willing to hear any arguments against translocation.

The petitioner organization has raised concerns of animal behaviour and submitted that the court has been misguided on the issue of status of lions. The petitioner said the status of the Asiatic Lion was not critically endangered, but that according to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature it has been listed as endangered species.

The petitioner demanded that the Supreme Court should consider that under Wildlife Protection Act, 1935, the Chief Wildlife Warden, the state government and Central government are appropriate authorities to decide on translocation of any species.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

SC notice to govt over contempt plea

15/11/2017
SC notice to govt over contempt plea
THE TIMES OF INDIA
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/sc-notice-to-govt-over-contempt-plea/articleshow/61650317.cms

AHMEDABAD: The Supreme court acting on a contempt petition filed by wildlife activists from Madhya Pradesh has issued notices to the government of India and Gujarat government. The petitioner, Ajay Dubey has challenged the non-implementation of the apex court order of April 2013, directing translocation of lions to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh from Sasan Gir in Gujarat, and has sought action against the Union government and state government of Gujarat.

"We welcome the court's decision. Translocation of lions is not only important for the environment but also for the poor people in Sheopur. They will get a new source of livelihood," said Dubey after the notices were issued.

The petition was taken up for hearing in October and was listed on Tuesday. "We argued in the court today, and the court after hearing the counsel issued notices to the Gujarat government and the government of India. The notice is returnable in four days. The hearing will now take place in January," said Varun K Chopra, the advocate appearing for the petitioners in the Supreme Court.

Madhya Pradesh's hopes of getting Asiatic lions to its land had faded after Narendra Modi, the proud custodian of Gir lions, moved from Gandhinagar to Delhi. But in another blow to MP's hopes, two Gujarat-based NGOs, too, had filed separate petitions challenging translocation of lions to Kuno.

Dubey has highlighted the wilful non-compliance of the apex court order of April 15, 2013. The said order directed the respondents to constitute an expert committee to oversee and ensure re-introduction of Asiatic lions from Gir forest to Kuno Palpur. The respondents have not taken any action to implement the directions of the court and have instead raised technical objections challenging the very rationale of the directions, the petitioner submitted.

The petitioner submitted that Gujarat has in the expert committee meeting raised a contention that prey density at Kuno is not adequate. The Supreme Court in its order has stated that several prey density surveys have been conducted by various experts, WII and the government of Madhya Pradesh, including in 2004-2005, 2008 and 2012 surveys and the prey density was higher than the existing prey base in Gir.

The government of Gujarat in a letter to the expert committee has contended that the presence of tigers in the occupied area at Kuno is one of the major obstacles for the translocation project. However according to Dr Asad Rehmani of Bombay Natural History Society, sporadic presence of tigers in Kuno is in no case detrimental to reintroduction of lions, the petitioner has submitted before the apex court.

Friday, November 17, 2017

VIDEO: Bikers chase lions in Gir forest, just for fun

12/11/2017
VIDEO: Bikers chase lions in Gir forest, just for fun
The Indian EXPRESS
http://indianexpress.com/article/trending/viral-videos-trending/video-bikers-chase-lions-in-gir-forest-gujarat-arrested-4931786/

We agree there is a thrill of the chase and many adventurers love to do things that give them an adrenaline rush, but there are also things that are simply foolish. One such incident happened in Gujarat when men on a motorcycle chased a lion and a lioness! Yes, believe it or not, but these daredevils chased the poor animals deep into the woods for quite long.

The shocking video surfaced online and the men can be heard speaking in Gujarati as they continue to follow the animal running away at high speed in very close proximity. And not just dead into the night, the second part of the video clearly shows four men on two bikes bothering the animals even in daylight.

The footage was shared by news agency ANI and they said that the police have arrested three people so far. Gir sanctuary in Gujarat, the home to Asiatic lions, is supposed to have tight security.





Bikers Chasing Lion, Lioness In Gujarat's Gir On Video, Three Arrested

09/11/2017

Bikers Chasing Lion, Lioness In Gujarat's Gir On Video, Three Arrested

NDTV

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bikers-chasing-lion-lioness-in-gujarats-gir-on-video-probe-ordered-1773090

AHMEDABAD:  A video that shows a group of bikers chasing lions in Gujarat's Gir sanctuary has gone viral. The four men, three of whom, the police say, have been arrested, are seen chasing lions, lionesses and cubs. The license plate for one of the bikes can be seen. The lions run frantically to escape the interlopers.

The video was posted on Facebook yesterday.

Wildlife officials are trying to track down the fourth man and the source of the video.

One biker, whose identity is yet to be disclosed, was arrested from near Rajkot earlier today. He was tracked down through the resgistration number of the bike and information from the local villagers. Later in the day, two others were arrested, one from Amreli and another from Rajkot.

 

The Gir sanctuary in western Gujarat is  the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions.  Asiatic lions -- different from African lions, with a characteristic fold of skin on their bellies and thinner manes on males -- once roamed most of Asia.

The 1,400 sq km sanctuary has around 400 lions. But relentless development - roads through the forest, expanding villages and illegal mining - is forcing animal-human proximity.


While the animals frequently wander into local villages, there have been reports of deliberate chase and cruelty. In June, a 50-second video had surfaced  that showed a group of men in a car chasing a lion cub through the forest in Amreli district.

In May last year, a four-year-old lion had accidentally fallen into dry well in the same area. While chasing the village's grazing buffaloes, it was surprised by a group of women. As the panic stricken animal tried to flee, it fell into the dry well. It was later rescued and released in the forest.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

SC notice to govt over contempt plea

15/11/2017
SC notice to govt over contempt plea
The Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/sc-notice-to-govt-over-contempt-plea/articleshow/61650317.cms

AHMEDABAD: The Supreme court acting on a contempt petition filed by wildlife activists from Madhya Pradesh has issued notices to the government of India and Gujarat government. The petitioner, Ajay Dubey has challenged the non-implementation of the apex court order of April 2013, directing translocation of lions to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh from Sasan Gir in Gujarat, and has sought action against the Union government and state government of Gujarat.

"We welcome the court's decision. Translocation of lions is not only important for the environment but also for the poor people in Sheopur. They will get a new source of livelihood," said Dubey after the notices were issued.

The petition was taken up for hearing in October and was listed on Tuesday. "We argued in the court today, and the court after hearing the counsel issued notices to the Gujarat government and the government of India. The notice is returnable in four days. The hearing will now take place in January," said Varun K Chopra, the advocate appearing for the petitioners in the Supreme Court.

Madhya Pradesh's hopes of getting Asiatic lions to its land had faded after Narendra Modi, the proud custodian of Gir lions, moved from Gandhinagar to Delhi. But in another blow to MP's hopes, two Gujarat-based NGOs, too, had filed separate petitions challenging translocation of lions to Kuno.

Dubey has highlighted the wilful non-compliance of the apex court order of April 15, 2013. The said order directed the respondents to constitute an expert committee to oversee and ensure re-introduction of Asiatic lions from Gir forest to Kuno Palpur. The respondents have not taken any action to implement the directions of the court and have instead raised technical objections challenging the very rationale of the directions, the petitioner submitted.

The petitioner submitted that Gujarat has in the expert committee meeting raised a contention that prey density at Kuno is not adequate. The Supreme Court in its order has stated that several prey density surveys have been conducted by various experts, WII and the government of Madhya Pradesh, including in 2004-2005, 2008 and 2012 surveys and the prey density was higher than the existing prey base in Gir.

The government of Gujarat in a letter to the expert committee has contended that the presence of tigers in the occupied area at Kuno is one of the major obstacles for the translocation project. However according to Dr Asad Rehmani of Bombay Natural History Society, sporadic presence of tigers in Kuno is in no case detrimental to reintroduction of lions, the petitioner has submitted before the apex court.

Bhopal: Clarify stand on Asiatic lions: SC tells Gujarat, MoEF

15/11/2017
Bhopal: Clarify stand on Asiatic lions: SC tells Gujarat, MoEF
THE FREE PRESS JOURNAL
http://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/bhopal-clarify-stand-on-asiatic-lions-sc%E2%80%88tells-gujarat-moef/1170523

Bhopal: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Gujarat government and Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to clear its stand regarding the non-compliance of its previous order for translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir (Gujarat) to Kuno Palpur in MP's Sheopur district, located 140 kilometres from Gwalior.

The court issued the order in response to the contempt petition filed by RTI activist Ajay Dubey.In April 2013, Supreme Court had ordered translocation of Asiatic lions.

Wildlife activist Fayaz Khudsar had filed a public interest litigation in the apex court in 2006 and sought translocation of Gir lions to MP. In April 2013, the apex court in a judgment directed that the lions be translocated to Kuno Palpur in MP. In fact,the committee constituted by the Supreme Court in 2013 visited Kuno Palpur Sanctuary and held its meeting there. After the meeting, the committee members came to conclusion that Kuno was ideally suited to become a second home for Asiatic llions.

Translocation of lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur has been a bone of contention between two BJP rules states for more than a decade with Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming the big cats as "pride of Gujarat" which the state cannot share with others. He made this statement when he was Gujarat's chief minister between 2002 and 2014.

The committee during its last meeting held in December 2016 in Kuno, in which officials from Gujarat forest department also participated, reiterated that the wildlife habitat was "ideally suited to become second home for lions." Varun Chopra, the Supreme Court advocate and counsel for Ajay Dubey, said,"Supreme court issued notices to MoEF and Gujarat government over translocation of Asiatic lions.Despite committee's recommendations,lions have not been translocated."

Friday, November 10, 2017

VIDEO OF BIKERS CHASING LIONS IN AMRELI GOES VIRAL: COPS ARREST FOUR SUSPECTS ON THE BASIS OF BIKES' LICENCE PLATES

10/11/2017
VIDEO OF BIKERS CHASING LIONS IN AMRELI GOES VIRAL: COPS ARREST FOUR SUSPECTS ON THE BASIS OF BIKES' LICENCE PLATES
AhmedabadMirror
http://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/others/police-arrests-four-for-chasing-lions-on-bikes-in-amreli/articleshow/61584726.cms

The police on Thursday arrested four persons who could be seen in a video chasing lions on their bikes. The video was reportedly taken in Amreli about six months ago by the accused while they were chasing away a pride of lions on their bikes. However, the video went viral only on Wednesday following which the forest department approached the police to catch hold of the culprits.

The video showed four persons chasing away lions, lionesses and cubs who ran helter-skelter due to noise of the vehicles. The forest department brought the issue to the notice of the police which in turn took help of RTO to track down the vehicles based on number plates seen in the video. One of the vehicles was traced to Rajkot and its owner Padshala Ankur was arrested. Based on his interrogation, police arrested Jayesh Patat, Ajay Vala and Vala Bhimji, all residents of Babara in Amreli district. They had been to Amreli to watch lions about six months ago.

According to Forest Act 1927, there is a provision of six years imprisonment for chasing or harassing scheduled (endangered) species. Forest department officials said the lions being chased were disturbed, harassed and chased by the accused. "There are chances that the lions were mating when the incident took place. There are chances that either of the adult lions can now attack human beings." Chief Conservator of Forest A P Singh said, "Police has arrested the accused and further investigation is on. Strict action will be taken in the matter." Police is also looking into the IP address to determine from where the video was first uploaded.

Bikers caught on video chasing lions in Gir sanctuary, 3 arrested

10/11/2017
Bikers caught on video chasing lions in Gir sanctuary, 3 arrested
Hindustantimes
http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/video-shows-group-of-bikers-chasing-endangered-asiatic-lions-in-gujarat-s-gir-forest/story-iymi68miyqYvMESC86uqEN.html

Three men were arrested on Thursday after a video showing motorcyclists chasing Asiatic lions in Gujarat's Gir Wildlife Sanctuary circulated online. Officials are trying to track down the fourth suspect, according to a NDTV report.

In the video posted on Facebook on Wednesday, the four men can be heard speaking in Gujarati as lions and lionesses frantically run.

Forest officials have initiated an inquiry into the incident and authorities are working on tracking the source of the video.

The registration number of a motorcycle visible on the video led the Gujarat Police to one biker who was arrested in Rajkot. Another biker was held in Rajkot later in the day while the third was arrested from Amreli.

The Gir sanctuary in western Gujarat is the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions in the world. The 1,400 sq km sanctuary and its surrounding areas Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts are home to 523 Asiatic lions, according to the 2015 census by the state forest department.

In June, the Gujarat forest department had arrested four people for chasing a lion cub in their car in Visavadar taluka of Junagadh district located close to the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.

Although none of the occupants of the car could be seen in the video, one of them is heard asking the driver in Gujarati to chase the cub: "Increase speed, hit it... go fast.. shoot it.. we will not get the chance again." Authorities, however, clarified that 'shoot' it meant capturing the chase on camera, and not shooting the cub with a gun.




Thursday, November 09, 2017

One arrested after video of four men chasing lions through Gir sanctuary goes viral

09/11/2017
One arrested after video of four men chasing lions through Gir sanctuary goes viral
Scroll.In
https://scroll.in/latest/857282/one-arrested-after-video-of-four-men-chasing-lions-through-gir-sanctuary-goes-viral

The Gujarat Police have arrested one of the four miscreants who chased lions, lionesses and cubs through the Gir sanctuary, as seen in a video that went viral on Wednesday. The police tracked down the accused near Rajkot on Thursday through the licence plate number and with help from villagers, NDTV reported .

In the video, the frightened animals can be seen running away from the bike-borne intruders. Forest officials said they are on track to find the three others from the clip. Wildlife authorities are trying to trace the source of the video. It is not known yet when it was taken.

The 1,400-sq-km expanse of the Gir sanctuary in West Gujarat is the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions, which were once found in much of the continent. Today, the 400 lions that live there deal with increasing human proximity because of developments such as roads through the forest, expanding villages and illegal mining.

Four bikers chase, bully lions in Gujarat's Gir and the video is viral – Watch

09/11/2017
Four bikers chase, bully lions in Gujarat's Gir and the video is viral – Watch
TIMES NOW
http://www.timesnownews.com/the-buzz/article/gujarat-gir-wildlife-sanctuary-lions-viral-video-bikes/122072

Ahmedabad: A video showing four men on two bikes chasing lions, lionesses and their cubs, and bullying them in Gujarat's Gir forest, has gone viral.

The video, which lasts less than a minute, has left wildlife lovers and activists furious.

In the video, most likely shot in Amreli area of Saurashtra region near the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat, lions are seen running frantically to escape the intruders.

The video has gone viral on the social media.

Forest officials have begun an inquiry into the incident and four persons have reportedly been arrested.

The Gir sanctuary is the world's only remaining natural habitat of popular Asiatic lions.

Monday, November 06, 2017

14 villages on Gir fringe get revenue rights

18/10/2017
14 villages on Gir fringe get revenue rights
The Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/14-villages-on-gir-fringe-get-revenue-rights/articleshow/61123709.cms

AHMEDABAD: In another key decision taken on Tuesday, the board decided to give revenue rights to 14 villages on the periphery of Gir sanctuary. So far, these villages did not have revenue rights and were unable to get loans or go for construction. With revenue rights, these villages will get corresponding benefits.

Around 26sq km of the 1,412 sq km Gir Sanctuary will be diverted for this purpose. Officials said that of these 14 villages, three are within the sanctuary.

The decision of the state government to allow 50 devotees to stay overnight at the Kankai Mataji temple in the Gir sanctuary was raised by SBWL member Bhushan Pandya. The decision had raised the hackles of wildlife activists and even members of the State Board for Wildlife.

Pandya had pointed out that the move will hurt conservation. He said that he also pointed out that there were no prayers that had to be performed at night. The Board later directed the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) G K Sinha to re-examine the issue.

The SBWL has kept in abeyance a proposal for construction of a jetty at Marine National Park.

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani throws open Ambardi lion safari park

18/10/2017

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani throws open Ambardi lion safari park

The IndianExpress

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/vijay-rupani-throws-open-lion-safari-park-4896041/

Five days after the Gujarat High Court cleared the decks for the lion safari park at Ambardi in Amreli district, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday formally threw open the park. Rupani released three zoo-bred Asiatic lions in the safari park, located in Gir (East) forest division near Dhari in Amreli district.

 

The park has been developed by carving out around 400 hectare or four square Km area out of Ambardi reserved forest. A wire fencing separates the park from the reserved forest located on the bank of river Shetrunji behind Khodiyar dam. Last week, the High Court dismissed a PIL filed by one Biren Pandya who claimed that Gujarat government did not have required permission from Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for opening the park. Pandya had claimed that the final clearance for the park was given by a technical committee of the CZA.

 

However, early in June this year, the CZA accorded final approval to the park. Disposing of the PIL, the High Court noted that the authorities had obtained relevant permission for the safari park. Rupani said that the opening of Ambardi safari park will decrease pressure on Gir National Park and Sanctuary at Sasan and Devaliya Safari park.

 

"The reduced tourist footfall at Sasan and Devaliya will augur well for their ecology without adversely impacting eco-tourism," said Anirudhha Pratap Singh, chief conservator of forests of Junagadh wildlife circle. Gir forest and other protected areas spread over Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts in the Saurashtra region are the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions in the world. A 2015 census had estimated the population of Asiatic lion to 523.

 

The inauguration comes around 17 years after the idea of safari park was first mooted in 2001. While the fencing work had begun in 2010, relevant facilities were developed by 2013. However, due to lack of clearance and litigations challenging the project, the park could not be inaugurated. The project cost now stands at Rs13 crore. "We have sought permission for increasing the number of lions inside the park to eight. The park has the capacity to accommodate 16 lions," Singh said.

 

Gir Sanctuary collects its highest ticket revenue ever

17/10/2017

Gir Sanctuary collects its highest ticket revenue ever

TIME OF INDIA

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gir-sanctuary-collects-its-highest-ticket-revenue-ever/articleshow/61108927.cms

 

AHMEDABAD: From June 2016 to June 2017, the Gir forest clocked its highest ever revenue for a single year, collecting Rs 10.25 crore from 5.22 lakh tourists who visited the Gir sanctuary and the Devaliya interpretation zone.

 

The rush continued and is evident this Diwali as well, with no online permits available for the vacation period till October 30. There are no online permit available on the weekends till January 14. Officials said that the tourist rush was increasing with every passing day. Chief conservator of forests A P Singh said 5.22 lakh tourists visited Gir in the last year. This is the second highest number of tourists after 2015, when the number was 5.33 lakh. "We are also expecting a huge rush during Diwali, as the park has just reopened after four months and it is the festival season."

 

The Gir region in Saurashtra, which is the last habitat of the endangered Asiatic lion, has seen a rise in tourist numbers ever since the state tourism department launched a campaign featuring Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.

 

Sources in the department said that during the festive period, the number of permits has been increased from 90 to 150, but there is still a huge rush. The revenue thus collected is used for lion conservation. Officials expect the number of tourists to grow next year. The tourist season for Gir sanctuary is from October 15 to June 15. The park remains closed for the remainder of the year as the roads are not motorable.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tired of tourists, Gir lions go into hiding

30/10/2017
Tired of tourists, Gir lions go into hiding
THE TIMES OF INDIA

AHMEDABAD: A total of 31,584 tourists visited Sasan Gir but around 60% of the tourists had to return without seeing the lions or their pride in the sanctuary. There are several reasons for this but experts say that lions get little privacy for rest.

According to the forest department, there were 31,584 visitors to Sasan between October 20 and October 27, while 43,829 visited Devaliya and another 9,693 visited the newly inaugurated Ambardi reserve.

Amit Patel, a resident of Bapunagar who went to Gir on October 21, said that he had booked a place in two safaris - one in the evening and second in early morning.

"But in both the safaris, I could not see a single lion. I was able to see a lot of ungulates along the route but I could not see the big cats," Patel said. He further said that he was not alone in making this complaint as several other tourists also did not see any lion.

HS Singh, member of the National Board of Wildlife, said sightings of the bigs cats depend on several reasons. "The lions are obviously disturbed by the increasing number of vehicles in the forest during the vacation. Hence they move away from the tourism zone. Secondly the forest, at present, is lush green and hence the lions easily hide in the grasses making it difficult to be spotted," Singh said.

AP Singh, CCF Junagadh, admitted that sightings had fallen in number.

"The forest department has ensured that no jeep moves away from its route allotted to it," he said. "We have begun monitoring the movement of jeeps. Moreover, in the past, the lions were moved near the tourism route and all vehicles were moved to that route. But now this practice has been stopped," Singh said.

He further said that apart from this, the forest department, during the festive season, gives 150 permits and another 20 for VIP movements. All these permits are used up during the vacation; hence the big cats get disturbed and move away from the tourism zone.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lion preys on calf in middle of Junagadh city

24/10/2017
Lion preys on calf in middle of Junagadh city
THE TIMES OF INDIA
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/lion-preys-on-calf-in-middle-of-junagadh-city/articleshow/61192669.cms

Junagadh: Commuters of Bhavnath road in Junagadh city were in for a surprise early morning on Monday as they witnessed an adult lion sitting on one side of the four-lane road eating a calf.

It was around 5.30am that people passing by Pajnaka Bridge noticed the lion sitting in the middle of the road eating his prey. Forest officials said that the lion might have come from the nearby forest area on the road and preyed upon the calf moving there.

For the next half-an-hour the lion sat on the road as bewildered commuters passing by in cars, autorickshaws and motorcycles stopped and clicked pictures and recorded videos.

"Eventually, as the crowd gathered at the spot and started shouting and honking horns from their vehicles, the big cat got disturbed and sauntered back into the forest by the same way that it had come," said a forester.

The area where the lion was sighted borders the Gir forest area. According to forest officials, lions are frequently sighted on the road near Bhavnath Road on the foothills of the Girnar mountain.

There are approximately 45 lions in the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, which spans over 17,827 hectare. Junagadh is located just 2km from the sanctuary's boundary.

In October last year, two adult lions, one male and a female, were found strolling in the Gandhigram area of Junagadh city early morning on a Saturday. They moved around the locality on the city's outskirts for over 20 minutes and then returned to the forest.

The October 2016 incident is the second one in that year when the wild cats crossed the forest border to enter the Junagadh Municipal Corporation (JMC) area. In July 2016, a pride of lions, including three adult females and half-a-dozen cubs, were seen jaywalking in Junagadh city early in the morning.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Forest dept seeks five more lions for Ambardi

18/10/2017
Forest dept seeks five more lions for Ambardi
The Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/forest-dept-seeks-five-more-lions-for-ambardi/articleshow/61124737.cms

Ahmedabad: The state government has asked the forest department to send a proposal to the Central Zoo Authority of India to get five more zoo-bred lions for its Ambardi interpretation zone. The Ambardi project was inaugurated on Tuesday and currently has three lions, a male and two females.

Chief conservator of forests A P Singh said the facility can house eight lions, four females, two males and cubs, but in the first phase CZAI has permitted three lions. "We are sending a proposal to the Union government to immediately sanction five more lions for the sanctuary, to be housed in the Ambardi zone. The zone will serve as a tourist destination for those heading to Diu and Tulshishyam."

Chief minister Vijay Rupani inaugurated the Ambardi Lion Safari Park, spread across 350 hectares in Dhari taluka of Amreli district, to the east of the Gir Sanctuary. He unveiled a plaque at the Sinh Dwar entrance and opened the animal upkeep centre.

Rupani said more tourists from India and abroad will now visit the safari park rather than going to Gir sanctuary. He said Amreli district will emerge as a new tourism hub.

Rupani said the state government repeatedly asked for environmental clearance for the eco-tourism project in the reserved forest area of Amreli district, but the UPA government sat on it. As soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, he solved many pending issues of Gujarat. The project was sanctioned by the Centre on June 5 last year and the state forest department got it ready quickly.

Forest dept seeks five more lions for Ambardi

18/10/2017
Forest dept seeks five more lions for Ambardi
The Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/forest-dept-seeks-five-more-lions-for-ambardi/articleshow/61124737.cms

Ahmedabad: The state government has asked the forest department to send a proposal to the Central Zoo Authority of India to get five more zoo-bred lions for its Ambardi interpretation zone. The Ambardi project was inaugurated on Tuesday and currently has three lions, a male and two females.

Chief conservator of forests A P Singh said the facility can house eight lions, four females, two males and cubs, but in the first phase CZAI has permitted three lions. "We are sending a proposal to the Union government to immediately sanction five more lions for the sanctuary, to be housed in the Ambardi zone. The zone will serve as a tourist destination for those heading to Diu and Tulshishyam."

Chief minister Vijay Rupani inaugurated the Ambardi Lion Safari Park, spread across 350 hectares in Dhari taluka of Amreli district, to the east of the Gir Sanctuary. He unveiled a plaque at the Sinh Dwar entrance and opened the animal upkeep centre.

Rupani said more tourists from India and abroad will now visit the safari park rather than going to Gir sanctuary. He said Amreli district will emerge as a new tourism hub.

Rupani said the state government repeatedly asked for environmental clearance for the eco-tourism project in the reserved forest area of Amreli district, but the UPA government sat on it. As soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, he solved many pending issues of Gujarat. The project was sanctioned by the Centre on June 5 last year and the state forest department got it ready quickly.

Monday, October 16, 2017

GIVE LIONS THEIR SPACE TO STOP KILLINGS

16/10/2017
GIVE LIONS THEIR SPACE TO STOP KILLINGS
Ahemdabad Mirror
http://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/others/give-lions-their-space-to-stop-killings/articleshow/61094212.cms

The killing of 15 cows by four lions last week at a cowshed of Juna Vaghaniya village of Amreli district has once again brought to fore the growing concern over man-animal conflict in the vicinity of Gir sanctuary due to lack of space for the big cats. What has scared the villagers is also the fact that the big cats paid a visit the next day too. Locals claimed such attacks, while not frequent, take place once in a while. However, experts are not surprised.

According to them, the eco-sensitive zone, or protected lion area, is not expanding commensurate with rising lion population. According to 2015 lion census data, 210 out of total 523 lions live outside the protected area. The number of lions in Savarkundla and Liliya in Amreli district and surrounding areas increased from 60, as per the preceding census, to over 80 in 2015. Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Pr CCF) H S Singh said, "Such mass cattle killings by lions is not uncommon. Several cows could have died due to heart attack on facing lions. It is important to expand ecosensitive zone.

There is need to build a healthy corridor for lions and give them more space. Each area has the capacity to sustain only a limited number of lions. When the population of an area reaches a saturation point, animal- man conflicts take place." Recalling the incident when lions killed 15 cows in about 45 minutes, Juna Vaghaniya resident Chetan Ramavat said, "Four lions — one male, one female and two sub adults — came around 8.15 pm. As soon as we sensed their presence, we gathered and tried to shoo them away but they ended up killing 15 cows.

Twelve carcasses were taken away by the forest department. We disposed of remaining three carcasses outside the village. On Tuesday night the lions came and took away those carcasses." Amreli Deputy Conservator of Forest Sakira Begum termed it a sporadic incident. She said, "It was a one-off incident and does not prove lions visit the area often. If the visits become frequent, then it will become a subject of research and observation. However, we are making all efforts to protect humans and domestic animals." Talking about lion behavior, former senior forest official and wildlife expert Uday Vora said, "The gathering of villagers may have instigated lions to go on a cattle-killing spree. The incident needs to be studied. However, such incidents have been reported in the past.

The forest department is doing its bit to avoid such episodes." AP Singh, Chief Conservator of Forest, Junagadh Wildlife Circle, told Mirror: "We are making efforts to sensitise villagers in areas where lion sightings are on the rise. We are trying to sensitise villagers of these areas akin to those in Junagadh and Sasan who have been living in close proximity of lions for many generations."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Morari Bapu, lion photo: Forest department begins probe

12/10/2017
Morari Bapu, lion photo: Forest department begins probe
THE TIMES OF INDIA
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/morari-bapu-lion-photo-forest-dept-begins-probe/articleshow/61044162.cms

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat forest department has begun an investigation into allegations made by a Porbandar advocate against kathakar Morari Bapu and forest officials about "organizing and being part of an illegal lion show" in protected limits of Girnar. The pictures of Morari Bapu — taken between October 8 and 9 in Girnar forests — with a lion in the foreground have gone viral.

Principal chief conservator of forests G K Sinha told TOI, "We are examining route permissions Morari Bapu had sought for the Girnar Parikrama. Permissions were given for certain portions of the route and not for the entire route." Forest officials said that Morari Bapu had sought permission this year for Girnar Parikrama within Girnar forest limits where pilgrim movement is allowed. The route winds through 'forest department only' and pilgrim-access areas. A senior forest official investigating the matter said that cricketer Ravindra Jadeja had got down from his jeep to take selfies in the Gir sanctuary which is roughly 48km from the Girnar sanctuary.

"We were trying to involve Morari Bapu in a campaign against plastic pollution along the Lili Parikrama route of Girnar," a senior forest officer said. "Over the past few years, we have retrieved tonnes of plastic wrappers, bottles, cases, and footwear on the route. Morari Bapu wanted to see a portion of the route to gauge the problem."

The official went on to say: "But a few members of Morari Bapu's entourage took photographs which landed them in trouble." Six trackers had accompanied Morari Bapu on the Girnar Parikrama. As for Jadeja, he had tweeted on Wednesday, "It is the same place, same story. Want to see what they are going to do now".

GR permitting overnight stay inside Gir worries foresters

12/10/2017
GR permitting overnight stay inside Gir worries foresters
The Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gr-permitting-overnight-stay-inside-gir-worries-foresters/articleshow/61044187.cms

AHMEDABAD: A government resolution allowing pilgrims to stay overnight at the Kankai Mata temple inside the Gir Sanctuary is worrying forest officials and conservationists. The use of the word 'yatralu' in the GR has broadened the scope beyond members of the community, who have Kankai Mata as their family deity, and were the only persons who used to stay overnight at the temple, traditionally.

A worried forest department official said, "There are no special permits required to be obtained from the forest department to stay at night at the temple. A person entering the temple with a day permit can stay back with the same permit."

"Earlier, the permit holder visiting the temple had to return by 5pm," said the official.

Through a notification, the government had in the first week of September, allowed 50 devotees to stay overnight at the Kankai Mataji temple within the Gir Sanctuary - the last abode of the Asiatic lion.

Wildlife activists, including some members of the state board of wildlife are worried that conservation of lions may be affected by allowing pilgrims to stay overnight inside the sanctuary.

A senior officer from the forest department said, "After getting the notification, we found the word pilgrims. Initially, it was only for the community who have Kankai Mata as their family deity. But the final notification had the word 'yatralu' thus widening the scope for stay at night."

A tour operator who conducts Gir tours, when contacted, said, "The night permit can be managed easily. Come down and we will arrange for the same."

Forest officials said they had tried to implement a system where a special permit was to be issued for night stay and only after getting a letter from the temple trust. However, the office bearers of the trust objected to the procedure and hence the new system was not implemented.

In 1998-99, a similar attempt was made to permit tourists to stay overnight at the temple. However, the permission was cancelled following the intervention of the standing committee on science and technology, environment and forests of the Rajya Sabha.

So far, apart from the trustees, no one, not even their family members, had been allowed to stay overnight at the temple. In the absence of clarity about who constitutes 'devotees', the deputy conservator of forests denied permissions. The forest department, which had so far made it mandatory for devotees visiting the Kankai temple to exit from the same gate, has now relaxed this norm and devotees can now leave from either gate.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

ACTION SOUGHT AGAINST MORARI BAPU

11/10/2017
ACTION SOUGHT AGAINST MORARI BAPU
AhmedabadMirror
http://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/others/action-sought-against-morari-bapu/articleshow/61027733.cms

A Porbandar-based advocate has demanded action against renowned Kathakar Morari Bapu and few forest officials for "organising and being part of illegal lion show" in prohibited area of Gir Sanctuary near Junagadh. Morari Bapu is currently in Junagadh for a Ram Katha. Talking to Mirror, lawyer Bhanu Odedara said: "I have written to the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court and Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) seeking action against them.

Lion shows are prohibited in Gir between June 15 and October 15. Despite this, forest officers tracked and located a lion for Morari Bapu and ten others either on October 8 or 9. The photos of the illegal lion show have gone viral on social media." In one of the photos, Morari Bapu can be seen sitting on a charpoy, surrounded by forest officials, and a lion sleeping in the middle of the road.

'Permission turned down'
Commenting on the matter, Chief Conservator of Forest, Junagadh, S K Mehta told Mirror: "Based on the photographs, it appears Morari Bapu had taken a halt during 'Parikrama' of Girnar for which he was granted permission. In fact, Bapu had sought permission for 'Lili Parikrama (on-foot circuit)' of Girnar which was turned down looking at his age, as it would have involved walking a very long distance.

Still probing incident
"He then decided to do the parikrama in a vehicle using the public road which remains open to public between 6am and 6 pm. "I am still probing into the incident and if someone is found guilty then action will be taken." According to Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, harassment of a wild animal can attract fine up to Rs 25,000 and harm to a wild animal attracts maximum imprisonment of 7 years. A senior forest official said cricketer Ravindra Jadeja was recently fined for taking a selfie with a lion in the background, by getting down from the jeep. Action was also taken against the forest officials accompanying him.

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