May 30, 2012, 11.23PM IST TNN[ Vijaysinh Parmar ]
RAJKOT: Gujarat‘s forest department is facing a strange dilemma. Officials would like to book people who harass the Asiatic Lion in Gir and surrounding areas so that they can teach the pranksters a lesson and set an example. But if they do take legal recourse, they fear losing the sympathy of locals, an important factor in the successful conservation of the wild cat in its last home in the world.
There have been a couple of instances in the recent past when lions have attacked their tormentors leading to tragic consequences. On April 17, a lion brutally attacked and killed a 35-year-old man in Dholadri village in Rajula taluka of Amreli district after his friends and he pelted stones at the wild cat feeding on a cow. They snatched away the prey which enraged the lion.
Sources say forest department officials knew exactly what had happened, but chose not to take action. They even paid Rs 1.5 lakh compensation to the relatives. The compensation is paid to only those who are killed by accident and have not harassed the lion.
In another incident, a lion attacked two people who were part of the group harassing it near Otha village, some 20 km from Mahuva in Bhavnagar district on May 29. The group had ventured too close to the animal and cornered it. Again, no complaint was filed under the Wildlife Protection Act.
“If we file a complaint against those who injured while watching the lions in the revenue area, we may lose the sympathy of local people, who might turn hostile towards the animals. We have to take care of all aspects,” said a senior forest official from Bhavnagar.
“Locals have been supportive of the conservation of lions on more occasions than one. So, during these kinds of incidents, we need to be tactful. People’s support is important in protection of wild animals, particularly when these incidents occur in revenue areas,” argued the forest officer.
Wildlife activists, however, believe strict action should be taken against those harassing lions. “There is an urgent need to increase patrolling in the areas were lions are found in good numbers outside the sanctuary. One can now find the big cats in coastal areas and often become a major attraction for locals,” said Vipul Laheri, honorary wildlife warden of Amreli. “Complaints should be filed against those who are found harassing lions to set an example.”
In Defense of Animals is calling for a new approach to cougar encounters
| Wednesday, May 30, 2012 | Updated 3:05 PM PDT
At an event criticizing the May 22 fatal shooting of a mountain lion by Santa Monica police, wildlife veterinarian Jennifer Conrad holds a special dart gun that she said could have been used to tranquilize the cougar.
Animal rights activists on Wednesday called for authorities to work with wildlife veterinarians when responding to confrontations with cougars, following the fatal shooting last week of a mountain lion in Santa Monica.
In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection organization based in Northern California, questioned why authorities killed the young animal rather than capturing it.
Alongside a wildlife vet and rehabilitator, representatives of the group said that public safety officials should call on civilian animal experts to respond to confrontations with mountain lions.
“Just as I would never be a police officer after a six-hour course on how to use a 9 mm (pistol), I don’t think that police officers are going to be veterinarians after a half-day course on how to subdue wildlife,” said Jennifer Conrad, a wildlife doctor and expert who lives in Santa Monica. “That’s why it has to be that we work together.”
On May 22, California Department of Fish and Game wardens responded to a report of a mountain lion in busy downtown Santa Monica – at 1227 Second St., between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue (map).
They said they attempted to tranquilize the juvenile animal (pictured below at right) – also using pepper balls and fire hoses, in coordination with the Santa Monica police and fire departments.
But authorities said that when it tried to escape the courtyard where it was hiding, police shot the 80-pound male cougar dead.
“We deployed less-lethal pepper ball, we deployed fire hoses and the animal continued to charge in attempt to flee out of the courtyard,” Santa Monica police Lt. Robert Almada said at the time. “Regrettably, the animal was euthanized in order to protect public safety.”
In Defense of Animals criticized the response. Its event Wednesday in front of Santa Monica City Hall brought together about 20 activists, some of whom held signs that read “tranquilize don’t euthanize” and “stop the killing.”
The group wants a strategy for handling future mountain-lion encounters without lethal force. Other animal rights groups have called for an investigation into the shooting.
“This is not a demonstration or a protest. … It’s a call to action,” said In Defense of Animals Communications Director Jack Carone. “What we do want to happen is for this to never happen again. What we do want is for hindsight to truly be 20/20. We want to look at what happened and really learn from it.”
It’s still a mystery how and why the animal ventured from the Santa Monica Mountains into such a densely populated area about 2 miles away. Mountain lions are monitored by the National Park Service, but this young lion was not wearing a GPS radio collar.
Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 29, 2012
With increase in tiger deaths, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asked forest departments to treat every death of big cat as case of poaching, unless proved otherwise. This has done to check the forest department officials from describing tigers deaths because of natural
There has been a tendency of the forest department officials to describe a death of a tiger probably from poisoning or through iron trap as natural death without examining the possibility of poaching.
“As tiger sources areas are targeted by poachers and tigers also become victims of non-targetted killings due to sensitive human-tiger interface conflicts, there is a need to ensure adequate caution while classifying tiger deaths as occurring due to natural causes,” said a letter written to project directors of tiger reserves in India by Rajesh Gopal, director NTCA.
Three tiger deaths have been reported from Dudwa tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh in the last one week. But, the forest department believes the death to be natural on the ground of signs of struggle on the body of one of the dead tigers. However, tiger experts believe that the tigers died during a poaching attempt.
In other incidents, at least two tiger deaths have been reported from Maharashtra increasing the tally of total deaths in the state to 12 in 2012. It was only after recent deaths that the Maharashtra government allowed the forest department “shoot at sight” orders against poachers.
The sudden jump in tiger deaths around India has pushed the NTCA to ask the directors of tiger reserves to carrying out detailed investigation before declaring reason for death of tigers.
The protocol prescribed says that area where the tiger death has been reported should be thoroughly scanned to rule out metal snares/traps and evidences related to unauthorized vehicular movement.
The NTCA also wants the officials to look for signs of poisoning near water bodies and poisoning of livestock kills made by a tiger. “Besides, any history of recurring livestock depredation, human death or injury due to wild carnivores in the area should also be taken into account along with pendency, if any, related to payment of compensation or ex-gratia in this regard,” Gopal said in his letter.
The authority has also advised the forest officials of taking preventive actions rather than retroactive action. “This will facilitate retrieval of carcasses before their putrification, thereby facilitating forensic examination in a laboratory,” the letter read.
The tiger conservation body also told the forest officials to treat every tiger or leopard death as case of poaching unless there is convincing evidence to suggest natural death.