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DID YOU KNOW?
Lions and other predators are being captured alive out of National Parks in some areas of Botswana (illegally) and moved towards South Africa and other countries to be hunted?
Did you know that these species are being monitored by poachers and followed until they can be captured and moved? Did you know that some of these species are being chased for Kilometres with a vehicle until they cannot run anymore and then either captured with a dart gun or by hand?
Do you know why this is happening?
Remember we discussed previously that there is a growing demand for Lion Bones and other Lion Parts to be utilised in countries all over? Well this is one example. Yes, WILD Lions, Cheetah’s and Leopard are captured to supply the demand. When will anything be save again?
So imagine you are lying at a pool and relaxing away from the HOT sun and all of a sudden somebody rushes towards you and chases you down. Tie your legs and arms together, covers you with a blanket over your head, put you in a car and then sedates you. Then you wake up in a place you have NO idea where you are and think you are free and start running until you hit a fence a few meters away.
Before you know it, you hear a car approaching and somebody gets out and points a gun at you.
How would you feel about this? This is happening in Africa people. We have a saying here at WFL that when a snake bites you on your foot the venom moves towards you heart of starts rotting at the sight and spreads. So would you not say that with this demand for Lions and their bones in South Africa the venom is starting to move upwards into more countries north from here?
Did you know that breeding places in Botswana is now also selling their excess Lions to South Africa so that they can start breeding again?
Wonder where these Lions will go, seeing as the demand is so high it does make one wonder.
Take a good look at these people in the picture. As they are only but a few people of the Department of Wildlife and National parks working so hard daily to fight this problem. It is a problem that has raised its head only a few years ago where one can actually see the consequences these days. So we would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of them for working so hard and putting their own lives in danger to protect their last remaining Lions.
A tigress was found dead today at the Corbett National Park in Nainital district. The tigress of nearly two-and-a-half-year-old was found near a waterbody by forest guards in Dhela range of the Corbett Tiger Reserve.The cause of the death of the big cat was yet to be ascertained, Karki said adding the post mortem report was still awaited. The marks of another tiger’s paws were found near the scene raising suspicion that it might have killed the tigress, he said.
CHEETAH’S LOOKOUT – Phinda Private Game Reserve – Rebecca Hart Media
Our travels in Russia continue as we visit a second project we are supporting focused on Amur Tiger Conservation. One aspect of this project is training Russian veterinarians and wildlife professionals to respond to diseases that threaten Amur tigers and other wildlife. Learn more: (http://www.mnzoo.org/tigerssp/amurConservation.html)
The African Lion
Nothing quite epitomizes the wildness of the ‘dark continent’ better than the African lion. For hundreds of years the lion has captivated visitors to this ancient land. Over millennia lions have been at the centre of African mythology and folklore across the continent, and today, continue to influence Africa on a monumental scale. A ruling member of the ‘Big 5‘, the lion is often the most sought after animal by tourists. Tens of millions of visitors are drawn to Africa every year by the allure of discovering the magnificent beast with the large black mane, bellowing his roar across the grassy plains.
The Asiatic Lion
The deep jungles of India are famed for their strange and wonderful beasts; the Bengal tiger, the pygmy elephant and the Indian rhino, but hidden in the small Gir Forest National Reserve of Gujarat State lives the little known Asiatic lion.
The Asiatic lion has quite distinct physical characteristics such as prominent tufts of hair on their elbows and at the end of their tails. What is most notable is their size in comparison to the African lion. Asiatic lions are significantly smaller than African lions and the males often have smaller, sparser manes. Such features were once thought to have derived from thousands of years of evolution however recent studies have suggested intense inbreeding over recent generations has resulted in such characteristics.
Please Read full Article here:
Right now the Asiatic lion story looks like it’s a success. But lurking in the wings are problems of man-animal conflict and industrial intrusion including mining. Nevertheless, the Gujarat Forest Department has done a remarkable protection job and as a result Panthera leo persica is doing well for now with the cats roaming across a 10,000 sq. km. range in the Greater Gir Landscape.
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To try and save Lions alone is a HUGE challenge, but to have organisations and companies help makes the process easier. Besides all your great donations that was TRULY needed, we would also like to thank a couple of companies that stuck with us during the hard
times and helped to make this campaign a success. Here is our thank you to them.
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Last Push to get the petition numbers to stop the abuse at Surabaya Zoo Indonesia. This zoo has had years of ongoing neglect and deaths of animals, purely due to human in fighting and personal clashes, and a possible land location issue (Surabaya Zoo is on prime city land) resulting in the severe neglect of precious animals. Nothing to do with the animals at all!! All humane methods have been tried within Indonesia, they have failed, now we have to speak up. I will present this petition personally to Indonesian Gov in a
couple of weeks. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/330/792/006/stop-the-deliberate-cruelty-of-surabaya-zoo-animals/
A call to action video to address the plight of the African lion.
Every Photographers dream, to capture a Leopard in a tree…. taken during the Leopard identifying Project in Timbavati- South Africa — at Timbavati Game Reserve.
It carried the line: “President Zuma can save her life.”
A message underneath the image said: “Our lions are being slaughtered to make bogus sex potions for Asia. Will President Zuma save them? Urge him to stop the deadly bone trade now.”
Media group Primedia was contracted to arrange production and placement, with pre-approval of the content by a lawyer as part of the group’s global civil action.
The campaign, called “Stop the lion bone trade campaign”, cost R198,000 and would have run in August 2012, for a month. It was taken down after nine days.
“In addition to the cases of confirmed poaching, we are investigating 14 other deaths that too seem to have been caused by poaching,” said a National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) officer on the condition of anonymity. The officer added that the increasing number of tiger deaths is a matter of grave concern and if the rate of poaching continues unabated, the number may surpass the 2012 figure of 71 tiger deaths.
So my question is when Government of India constituted a statutory body, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau on 6th June 2007, by amending the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, a special Act to protect the wildlife in the country. The bureau that would complement the efforts of the state governments, primary enforcers of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and other enforcement agencies of the country. What Role is it playing????
In only a few years, logging and agribusiness have cut Indonesia’s vast rainforest by half. The government has renewed a moratorium on deforestation but it may already be too late for the endangered animals –and for the people whose lives lie in ruin
plantations. Long drainage canals dug through equatorial swamps dissected the land. The only sign of life was excavators loading trees onto barges to take to pulp mills.Our small plane had been flying low over Sumatra for three hours but all we had seen was an industrial landscape of palm and acacia trees stretching 30 miles in every direction. A haze of blue smoke from newly cleared land drifted eastward over giant
The end is in sight for the great forests of Sumatra and Borneo and the animals and people who depend on them. Thirty years ago the world’s third- and sixth-largest islands were full of tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutan and exotic birds and plants but in a frenzy of development they have been trashed in a single generation by global agribusiness and pulp and paper industries.
Their plantations supply Britain and the world with toilet paper, biofuels and vegetable oil to make everyday foods such as margarine, cream cheese and chocolate, but distraught scientists and environmental groups this week warn that one of the 21st century’s greatest ecological disasters is rapidly unfolding.
Official figures show more than half of Indonesia‘s rainforest, the third-largest swath in the world, has been felled in a few years and permission has been granted to convert up to 70% of what remains into palm or acacia plantations. The government last week renewed a moratorium on the felling of rainforest, but nearly a million hectares are still being cut each year and the last pristine areas, in provinces such as Ache and Papua, are now prime targets for giant logging, palm and mining companies.
The toll on wildlife across an area nearly the size of Europe is vast, say scientists who warn that many of Indonesia’s species could be extinct in the wild within 20-30 years. Orangutan numbers are in precipitous decline, only 250-400 tigers remain and fewer than 100 rhino are left in the forests, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Millions of hectares are nominally protected, but the forest is fragmented, national parks are surrounded by plantations, illegal loggers work with impunity and corruption is rife in government. “This is the fastest, most comprehensive transformation of an entire landscape that has ever taken place anywhere in the world including the Amazon. If it continues at this rate all that will be left in 20 years is a few fragmented areas of natural forest surrounded by huge manmade plantations. There will be increased floods, fires and droughts but no animals,” said Yuyun Indradi, political forest campaigner with Greenpeace southeast Asia in Jakarta.
Last night the WWF’s chief Asian tiger expert pleaded with the Indonesian government and the world to stop the growth of palm oil plantations. “Forest conversion is massive. We urgently need stronger commitment from the government and massive support from the people. We cannot tolerate any further conversion of natural forests,” said Sunarto Sunarto in Jakarta.
Indonesia’s deforestation has been accompanied by rising violence, say watchdog groups. Last year, more than 600 major land conflicts were recorded in the palm plantations. Many turned violent as communities that had lost their traditional forest fought multinational companies and security forces. More than 5,000 human rights abuses were recorded, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
“The legacy of deforestation has been conflict, increased poverty, migration to the cities and the erosion of habitat for animals. As the forests come down, social conflicts are exploding everywhere,” said Abetnego Tarigan, director of Walhi, Indonesia’s largest environment group.
Scientists fear that the end of the forest could come quickly. Conflict-wracked Aceh, which bore the brunt of the tsunami in 2004, will lose more than half its trees if a new government plan to change the land use is pushed through. A single Canadian mining company is seeking to exploit 1.77m hectares for mining, logging and palm plantations.
Large areas of central Sumatra and Kalimantan are being felled as coal, copper and gold mining companies move in. Millions of hectares of forest in west Papua are expected to be converted to palm plantations.
“Papuans, some of the poorest citizens in Indonesia, are being utterly exploited in legally questionable oil palm land deals that provide huge financial opportunities for international investors at the expense of the people and forests of West Papua,” said Jago Wadley, a forest campaigner with the Environment Investigation Agency.
Despite a commitment last week from the government to extend a moratorium on deforestation for two years, Indonesia is still cutting down its forests faster than any other country. Loopholes in the law mean the moratorium only covers new licences and primary forests, and excludes key peatland areas and existing concessions which are tiger and elephant habitats. “No one seems able to stop the destruction,” said Greenpeace International’s forest spokesman, Phil Aikman.
The conflicts often arise when companies are granted dubious logging or plantation permissions that overlap with community-managed traditional forests and protected areas such as national parks.
Nine villages have been in conflict with the giant paper company April, which has permission to convert, with others, 450,000 hectares of deep peat forests on the Kampar Peninsula in central Sumatra. Because the area contains as much as 1.5bn tonnes of carbon, it has global importance in the fight against climate change.
“We would die for this [forest] if necessary. This is a matter of life and death. The forest is our life. We depend on it when we want to build our houses or boats. We protect it. The permits were handed out illegally, but now we have no option but to work for the companies or hire ourselves out for pitiful wages,” said one village leader from Teluk Meranti who feared to give his name.
They accuse corrupt local officials of illegally grabbing their land. April, which strongly denies involvement in corruption, last week announced plans to work with London-based Flora and Fauna international to restore 20,000 hectares of degraded forest land.
Fifty miles away, near the town of Rengit, villagers watched in horror last year when their community forest was burned down – they suspect by people in the pay of a large palm oil company. “Life is terrible now. We are ruined. We used to get resin, wood, timber, fuel from the forest. Now we have no option but to work for the palm oil company. The company beat us. The fire was deliberate. This forest was everything for us. We used it as our supermarket, building store, chemist shop and fuel supplier for generations of people. Now we must put plastic on our roofs,” said one man from the village of Bayesjaya who also asked not to be named.
Mursyi Ali from the village of Kuala Cenaku in the province of Riau, has spent 10 years fighting oil plantation companies which were awarded a giant concession. “Maybe 35,000 people have been impacted by their plantations. Everyone is very upset. People have died in protests. I have not accepted defeat yet. These conflicts are going on everywhere. Before the companies came we had a lot of natural resources, like honey, rattan, fish, shrimps and wood,” he said.
“We had all we wanted. That all went when the companies came. Everything that we depended on went. Deforestaion has led to pollution and health problems. We are all poorer now. I blame the companies and the government, but most of all the government,” he continued. He pleaded with the company: “Please resolve this problem and give us back the 4,100 hectares of land. We would die for this if necessary. This is a life or death,” he says.
Greenpeace and other groups accuse the giant pulp and palm companies of trashing tens of thousands of hectares of rainforest a year but the companies respond that they are the forest defenders and without them the ecological devastation would be worse. “There has been a rampant escalation of the denuding of the landscape but it is mostly by migrant labour and palm oil growers. Poverty and illegal logging along with migrant labour have caused the deforestation,” said April’s spokesman, David Goodwin.
“What April does is not deforestation. In establishing acacia plantations in already-disturbed forest areas, it is contributing strongly to reforestation. Last year April planted more than 100 million trees. Deforestation happens because of highly organised illegal logging, slash-and-burn practices by migrant labour, unregulated timber operations. There has been a explosion of palm oil concessions.”
The company would not reveal how much rainforest it and its suppliers fell each year but internal papers seen by the Observer show that it planned to deforest 60,000 hectares of rainforest in 2012 but postponed this pending the moratorium. It admits that it has a concession of 20,000 hectares of forest that it has permission to fell and that it takes up to one third of its timber from “mixed tropical hardwood” for its giant pulp and paper mill near Penabaru in Riau.
There are some signs of hope. The heat is now on other large palm oil and paper companies after Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the world’s largest such companies, was persuaded this year by international and local Indonesian groups to end all rainforest deforestation and to rely solely on its plantations for its wood.
The company, which admits to having felled hundreds of thousands of acres of Sumatran forest in the last 20 years, had been embarrassed and financially hurt when other global firms including Adidas, Kraft, Mattel, Hasbro, Nestlé, Carrefour, Staples and Unilever dropped products made by APP that had been made with rainforest timber.
“We thought that if we adopted national laws to protect the forest that this would be enough. But it clearly was not. We realised something was not right and that we needed a much higher standard. So now we will stop the deforestation, whatever the cost. We are now convinced that the long term benefits will be greater,” said Aida Greenbury, APP’s sustainability director. “Yes. We got it wrong. We could not have done worse.”
• This article was amended on 27 May 2013. It originally said Asia Pacific Resources International had been persuaded to end all rainforest deforestation. The company was Asia Pulp and Paper. This has been corrected.
Acting on a tip off, the forest sleuths recovered the pelt that was hidden in a rocky terrain in Tithimati forest. The spot is 3km inside Hunsur-Virajpet road. The officials led by DCF Mohan Kumar searched Devamachi reserve forest area and dug out the pelt. It is valued at Rs 4 lakh. The tiger’s pelt is located some 10km outside the Anechowkur range in Nagarahole national park.
Field director (project tiger) BJ Hosmath told The Times of India that they are investigating whether the tiger was poached. “As of now, we don’t know the reason for the death of the tiger. We are not ruling out poaching and are probing from that angle too,” he said.
Part of the reason for the officials to suspect foul play is the fact that they are not able to decide for sure how the tiger has died. But, there are no bullet injuries either.
Recently there are two cases in the tiger belt where big cats were killed using poison. Though the tiger is believed to be 14 years of age, the officials are not sure and are suspecting involvement of anti-social elements. “We are not sure of the age of the tiger looking at the pelt,” Hosmath stated.
The tip off was almost exact as the caller told the officials that the pelt is hidden at a certain beat, which the field staff are well aware of.
A wildlife activist, who has worked extensively in tiger reserves in Karnataka, said the life expectancy of the tiger is around 10 years in the wild, while it is around 14 in captivity. Recently, a tigress, which was tracked closely by the field staff died; she was eight years old. She was healthy but died suddenly, he stated. “The tigers are under stress, both from the human intervention and territorial,” he explained.
If the tiger has died due to old age at Tithimati, which the anti-social elements have found and skinned to sell its parts, it is also a crime, an official stated.
A vet said it is difficult to establish the cause of death of the big cat merely by investigating the pelt. “Even forensic experts cannot do that. The suspects hold the key to know the cause of its death,” the vet, who didn’t wish to be named, explained.
Asyndicate of criminals has found a lucrative business in stealing lions and cheetahs and selling them to South African game ranchers along the Botswana-South African border. A week long journey across the Kgalagadi South, Northern Cape and North Western Provinces of South Africa by the Mmegi team uncovered operations by organised crime syndicates in predator smuggling that has posed a serious threat to the sustainable protection of wildlife in the region and livelihoods of the populace which depends on tourist activities.
The team got on the trail of the criminal syndicates, uncovering a complex web of characters from simple men looking for a piece job, ill-equipped law enforcement officers to wealthy game ranch owners looking for a good catch to sustain their business. The trade involves live predators, skins, trophies and game meat.
The big cats are smuggled to feed the ‘canned hunting’ industry in South Africa that pays attractive prices.The criminal syndicates operate in the semi-desert areas of Tsabong near Taylor’s Pan, Maralaleng, Omaweneno, Draaihoek, Werda and Kolonkwaneng, near Moorcroft’s Pan. Moorcroft’s Pan is where the Tsabong – Middlepits road descends into the Molopo valley which marks the borderline between Botswana and South Africa.
Investigations have revealed that McCarthy’s Rust, 26 kilometres east of Tsabong, Werda, Bray also known as Hereford, Derdepoort at Sikwane in the Kgatleng District and Stockpoort are the favoured border crossing points for smuggling. Failure to address the live big cat smuggling by the authorities in Botswana and South Africa could have devastating consequences for tourism. Some South African farmers, a number of whom have farms in Botswana are implicated in the smuggling. A number of them are alleged to have been illegally allocated farms near Tsabong at the Khweyane communal grazing zone. Mmegi has so far confirmed that some of these ranch owners (names known) are linked to the smuggling operations.
Unmasking the syndicates
South African-based natural conservation specialist, Saral van der Merwe, says he discovered the criminal syndicates while researching for his forthcoming thesis on lion and livestock interactions in the Kgalagadi South region. The process is simple. A South African client, often a game farmer, contacts an individual in Botswana and places an order. The contact gets a team of men together who then venture into the wild to capture animals. The client crosses into Botswana, collects the animal and exits through un-gazetted points. Sometimes, the hired poachers take the animal to the border for the client. The game rancher may breed the animal, sell it or keep it in the ranch for trophy hunters.
People like Bonang Lehuma (not real name) used to work at the lower end of the smuggling chain. His job was to capture lions and cheetahs. “In 2000, I met with a man called Dicks (not real name) who introduced and recruited me in this business of lion and cheetah smuggling,” he narrates. He says that a South African client of his called Hennie (full names known to Mmegi) wanted two live cheetahs at P10,000 each. “I did the math, I get paid around P2,000 or less every month when I build houses but this is more of a jackpot,” he says.
Another young man, Toro Letsomo (not real name) told Mmegi that he knows about these operations and the people involved. He said after several failures he joined the smuggling syndicate. “Dicks used to come with a lot of money and buy us drinks, I strongly desired to be part of them (smuggling group) and make money too but they would promise to take me along the next time. Unfortunately, they always dodged me and I don’t know why, and it hurt me. But, there was nothing I could do because I knew nothing about the trade so I could not go alone,” Letsomo said at his farm. Ultimately, he joined the poachers to enjoy the benefits.
Getting information about the crime is made doubly difficult by the fact that gaining access to the ranchers is not easy. It is a dangerous mission to attempt gaining access to ranches and farms of suspected South African farmers along the McCarthy’s Rust border. Across the border in South Africa, there is a ranch called Springbok Pan.It is suspected that it is a hide-out for the smugglers and their loot. Upon entering the ranch, the owners who declined to talk to the Mmegi team about the smuggling, were so hostile and appeared quite racist. This seems a no go area for a black man. But the game rancher remains central to the trade. In fact, he offers a market. A resident of Khweyane near Tsabong, Richard White, a natural conservationist, told Mmegi that the criminals use vehicles and other equipment supplied by the South Africans in their operations. “Drugs are used to capture the animals. Some are believed to be M99, fentanyl, zolatyl, ropan and ketamine hydrochloride,” White explained.
He said the main sphere of operations is along the Kgalagadi Wildlife Management Area and the southern part of the Botswana portion of the Trans-Frontier Park, especially Mabuasehube Game Reserve. He said the criminals put water troughs in strategic places to attract the animals and then follow lactating females back to their cubs, which they catch for smuggling.
“The cubs are sold for an average of R7,500 each,” White said.He explained that the business of predator smuggling is driven by two factors; price differences between the two countries and the ‘no questions asked’ terms of the trade. Many of the animals traded are stolen in Botswana and then smuggled into South Africa, sometimes across the border unnoticed by the customs officials. The South African police will not do anything even if they are aware of the hidden ‘goods’.
The war against poaching
Kgalagadi District police boss, Senior Superintendent Masilo Motswiri has said they have recorded stock theft and predator smuggling cases and some Batswana have been arraigned and prosecuted for the crime. Court records show that Mpegang White Tebele, Mpontshang Leshema, Keobonye Ntau Keseneilwe and Dinkwetse Osenoneng have been charged for hunting and capturing animals without a licence. The men were caught in a joint operation by security forces near McCarthy Rust border post in 2012. Their names have been featuring frequently in reports as smuggling syndicate members. They were ambushed near Tsabong at Magobeng Ranch with two cheetahs after a sting operation by the police. Previously, trailing the syndicate members had not borne fruit and that is why the police decided to lure them into an ambush by pretending to be customers. The Botswana Defence Force soldiers and wildlife rangers were roped into the plot that led to the capture of the men at night near the border where they unsuspectingly took two cheetahs to a ‘client’ who happened to be a police officer backed by a contingent of armed security men hiding in the bushes.
The two male cheetahs are currently kept at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks. The court documents reveal that in March, three of the smugglers confessed, pleaded guilty to the crime and were slapped with a P5,000 fine each.In 2008, Tebele and alleged syndicate members, Fampe Gaotsogelwe, Kealeboga Masetlane, Joba Tebele and Kganenang ‘Swartpiet’ Dipheko faced charges of illegal hunting and capturing four eland calves, three gemsbok and two springboks but were eventually acquitted last year. Court records show that a certain Ryan ‘Gert’ Stoltz, a South African, was implicated in the matter. It is alleged that he drove over the Botswana and South Africa border fence during a chase by the police and disappeared into the night. Stoltz is still at large and among the most wanted people by Tsabong police.
Middlepits police station commander, Superintendent Moses Chibamo told Mmegi that they are aware of the problem of smuggling of live animals but the perpetrators are very smart and have not been caught yet. He said the criminals monitor the police and know the movements of security officers. “We are aware of the problem but they are difficult to catch. Sometimes we follow motor tracks and when we get to the house, the wheels would have been changed or cars would be on top of bricks. They (vehicle owners) would deny any wrongdoing and say their cars do not move,” Chibamo said.
A poverty and poaching story
This is really a poverty story if anything. Poverty is everywhere in Kgalagadi South, one of the poorest regions in the country. It is in the mud huts, the dusty roads and the sullen looks on the residents’ faces. The poverty trap of Kgalagadi South is linked to the land question. Kgalagadi South is more like a corridor.
The communal area where the farmers eke out a living through rearing animals is a thin corridor beyond which game farms stretch to the south and the big expanse of the Kgalagadi Trans-Frontier Park to the north. The soil is not good for anything else, the layout of the land makes it impossible to raise animals. All the villages and towns stretching from Maralaleng, Bray, Omaweneno, Werda, Draaihoek, Tsabong, Middlepits, and Bokspits to Struizendam are located between wildlife sanctuaries or foreign land. There is the Mabuasehube-Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that spreads to the west of Tsabong to Nossop River which marks the border between Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. To the south is the border between Botswana and South Africa. The Molopo River winds all the way to the south west bottom corner of Botswana meeting with Nossop River that flows from Namibia.
Due to these geographical features, the farmers are running out of grazing land. Around a 100km radius, heading south to the villages from the Mabuasehube park boundary, wild animals dominate the freehold land. The residents have expressed concern that they cannot compete for the land with the animals since predators kill their livestock. The area is inhabitable since it is too far from facilities such as schools and hospitals.
The secluded region, especially down south to Middlepits is underdeveloped with many abandoned businesses. The mud huts are falling to pieces and showing cracks probably from the severe sand storms. The water is muddy and salty and a decent meal is difficult to get. A Middlepits police officer (name withheld) told Mmegi that people poach game for food but due to poverty, the activity has been elevated into a commercial venture because of the readily available and lucrative market in South Africa. “They dominantly poach eland and gemsbok for meat but in Tsabong, they kill for sale and profit. Tota ba ke batho ba nama, ba bolaela go ja!” he said.
Assistant Superintendent, Kabelano Tebogo of Tsabong police said that South African farmers have emerged as one of the major threats to the residents’ livelihood. The South Africans own ranches that share boundaries with the international border. Another problem is inaccessibility of the ranches and rogue law enforcement officers. “So when livestock grazes too far and end up on the South African side of the border, they sometimes disappear for good since they will be in a foreign land and private property at the same time,” Tebogo explains.He said that, if by luck the animals are returned, it would be after a very long time through a tiring process and exchange of a lot of money.
“Which leads to Batswana giving up on the battle of getting their livestock back since it costs them twice as much as the animal itself. The hassle usually comes from the fact that some South African farmers have ranches that share the boundary fences with the borderline,” Tebogo said. He accused South African police in Kuruman of unreliability and refusing to cooperate with their Botswana counterparts.”Their procedure of sending back livestock entails going back to Kuruman headquarters, which is close to 300km, to request for a warrant to enter the private property,” Tebogo said. By the time a warrant is issued, the farmer may have actually moved the stray animal(s) to a different place.
Towards a lasting solution
South African-based natural conservation specialist, Saral van der Merwe, says he attempted to alert the authorities to the illegal smuggling of live animals in vain. He wrote a letter to the Minister of Environment in South Africa pleading with him to address the smuggling. His letter to the Shadow Minister of Agriculture in South Africa also got no response. He said he is in contact with informants, one of them a criminologist and expert in cross border wildlife smuggling.
He said his attempts to stop the lion bone exports from South Africa have been ignored. Kgosi David Toto of Kgalagadi informed Mmegi that last month, they met with the police, soldiers and wildlife officials and agreed to address the problem of smuggling Botswana wild animals to South Africa. “We had suggested that there should be whistle-blowers. We suggested that the community should join the fight as well and requested to be given resources such as cars and more manpower to help combat this,” Toto said.When President Ian Khama visited Tsabong recently, he assured residents that a delegation would be sent to the district to address the smuggling problem.
by Jeremy Goss, May 20 2013
(Jeremy is a scientist living in the Big Life patroled-area for three months to assess the attitudes and behaviour of the local community towards predators, how this has changed over the past decade, and exactly what the impact of the Big Life/MPT Predator Compensation Scheme has been.)
(THIS STORY RELATES TO A PREVIOUS INCIDENT A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO)
The radio crackles, a dusty message. Not good news – the Maasai are hunting lions.
The cats have reportedly broken into a boma overnight and killed 40 shoats (sheep/goats) and a cow. The loss is devastating to the family involved. In anticipation, Big Life Foundation has already sent rangers to the spot to monitor the mood, and the latest message ignites a flurry of action.
I join a team of rangers in the back of a Land Cruiser. They’re involved in a fight with deep emotional triggers, and one in which it is hard to take sides. In this pastoralist society, livestock are wealth, and predators have the ability to wreck livelihoods. Retribution can be swift. The rangers joke nervously. The information so far has been vague and the outcome is unpredictable.
We race through the dense bush of the Chyulu Hills and accelerate as we hit the vast yellow plains below.
After an hour’s travel, we arrive. The rangers fan out, led by two men from a boma nearby. Eventually a shout from below, and a sad find. A young lioness, killed by Maasai spears. Her claws, tail and ears are gone, prizes for those most instrumental in her death.
To the men involved, this killing is a form of the revenge, but also represents one less lion threatening their livestock. There is no right or wrong here, and as we turn, the only hope is that the death of one lion will be the end of this particular incident.
But movement in the distance signals that this is not over. A line of forty Maasai men is heading in the direction in which the rest of the pride had fled.
To try to stop them would not only be pointless, but dangerous too. The group is angry, probably irrationally so, and all carry long spears. The rangers move off in the same direction as the advancing men, parallel, maintaining distance.
In the meantime Richard Bonham has arrived in his small plane and is swooping low over the plain, pretending to chase the lions and thus lure the hunting party in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, the hunters have skirted one side of a hill and the rangers are on the other, both moving in the same direction but are invisible to one another. A meeting is inevitable. I am with Sambu, a senior staff member of Big Life and excellent negotiator with an in-depth understanding of both sides of this story. Suddenly, the silence is burst by a loud wail, followed by the collective voice of forty men chanting and hollering. The few rangers that I am with take off at a run ahead of me. We can’t see anything, but the volume speaks of a serious confrontation. I stay below the ridge. Minutes crawl by. Slowly things seem to cool off. I risk joining the outskirts.
The scene is awfully real, this is what conservation is about here. Forty Maasai, adorned in everything from Manchester United jerseys to full traditional regalia, face-off with the green fatigues of thirteen Big Life rangers. Every man on both sides is from the area.
Sambu’s voice battles these proud men. I understand nothing but the body language needs no interpreting. He argues for the lives of the four remaining lions, and slowly I observe the tide begin to turn. As the ugly mess breaks up, faces emerge. I realise that this is not a group of testosterone-driven young men, but a diverse group spanning teens to elders. This hunt was not for pride or bragging rights, it was a response to a terrible loss. Some of the hunters have moved off to the side, and the vocal core begins to shrink. Slowly, men begin to walk away, some return to pull their friends with them. Finally, they are all turned. The landscape breathes out.
Here, as across Africa, lines are emerging in the fight to conserve ecosystems – people that place value on wildlife versus those that don’t. And increasingly this value is tied more to currency than culture. This is no longer a romantic story of an African people holding onto their traditional way of life and coexisting with predators. Livestock were traditionally valued in and of themselves. These days school fees and cell phone bills need to be paid, and the local definition of value is swimming out of focus.
No matter how much you might like having a lion roaring in the distance, or are prepared to coexist with it, there is only so much loss that you will tolerate before it becomes too much. And then you retaliate. I challenge anyone to look me in the eye and tell me that you would do different. It’s the age-old mantra – cost versus benefit. This is not some abstract western economic concept to be bandied about by greybeards, it is the universal trade-off that drives decision-making, conscious or otherwise, in every living human. The notion that local communities need to derive value from wildlife is not new but successful attainment of this goal appears to be elusive. Until each person sees the actual benefit of having wildlife around them, you cannot expect them to act other than in their own best interests, and if that means killing a lion then this should not come as a shock to our western conservationist sensitivities.
Epilogue – The shade of the umbrella thorn barely stretches wide enough to cover the ring of men. This is an important gathering; the topic of discussion is unprecedented. Two neighbouring group ranches had a stake in this lion killing, but they have emerged on opposing sides. The lions killed in a Merueshi group ranch boma and then crossed onto Mbirikani group ranch. The Merueshi hunting party followed them and killed the lioness on the other side of the border. Previously this would have been inconsequential, possibly congratulated, but certainly understood.
But now Mbirikani has a tourist lodge, a large number of people employed in the local game scouts, a compensation program to cover livestock losses to predators. None of which would have been possible without local conservation efforts.
As each man stands to talk, his stick traces unconscious lines in the sand. But the lines are firm – these are our lions, and if you ever follow them onto our land again, you will face arrest by our rangers, and prosecution by the wildlife authority of Kenya. The benefit to us is greater than the cost, and we will protect this benefit. The message is as clear as the blue sky above.
HYDERABAD: A pregnant tigress died at the Nehru Zoological Park on Friday morning. Zoo officials said that the 7-year-old tigress Swati was in the advanced stage of pregnancy and was found dead by the animal keeper. Autopsy revealed that some of her organs were damaged. Further investigations are being done to ascertain the cause of death, officials said.
KOLKATA: Conservationists can raise a toast. The number of big cats in the Sunderbans is much higher than official estimates. A recent camera trap study by WWF-India and the West Bengal forest department has detected the presence of at least 77 tigers in the mangroves, much higher than the lower limit of 64 thrown up by the national tiger census in 2011.
While the cameras captured 57 big cats in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR) region, a similar study in areas outside the tiger reserve last year had spotted 20 more.
The three major ranges under the STR area – National Park East, Sajnekhali and Basirhat – have a minimum of 27, 17 and 13 tigers respectively, said STR field director Soumitra Dasgupta.
The STR figure doesn’t include the number of tigers in the National Park West range, where a study is currently being conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India. “So, the number of big cats in the mangroves can be higher when the final report comes out,” Dasgupta said.
Chief wildlife warden N C Bahuguna, too, backed the claim. “I haven’t yet received the report, but whatever the figures are, it’s a minimum estimation and there can be more tigers,” he said.
The figure of 17 tigers for tourist zone Sajnekhali, spread over only 362 square km, has especially given foresters a reason to smile. “Two successive tiger sightings last Puja at Pirkhali, close to the Sajnekhali beat office, had resulted in a surge of tourists till January. Though we generally receive around 80,000 tourists between October and January, the best time for tiger sightings in Sunderbans, last year the number crossed one lakh,” said a forest official. The tourism zone covers forests of Pirkhali and Dobanki.
While the National Park East zone, spread over 700 square km, comprises the Baghmara, Chamta and Gona forests, the Basirhat range covers the forests of Jhila, Arbesi and Khatuajhuri. An official said WWF-India members laid 56 pairs of trap cameras in the core forests and the exercise started last November.
Eminent conservation zoologist Ullas Karanth, who had conducted a camera trap study in the mangroves in 1998, said the figure of 274 once given out by the forest department was highly inflated. “Only long term population dynamic studies of the kind we are doing in Karnataka will tell us if the population of tigers in the Sunderbans is stable, increasing or declining,” he said.
According to Wildlife Protection Society of India executive director Belinda Wright, Sunderbans is a “critical tiger habitat and a lot of hard work will have to be put in – in particularly protecting the prey species – to see a rise in the number of tigers here”.
State wildlife advisory board member Joydip Kundu felt the camera trap study was a landmark exercise undertaken by the WWF and forest department. “We should move forward and strengthen the conservation efforts in the mangroves,” he said.
Sunderbans forest officials had challenged the 2011 tiger census report that had put the minimum number of big cats in the mangroves at 64.
“Sign surveys, radio-collaring and camera trapping were done then to estimate the number. Later, we decided to go for an intensive study, which will be a tiger reserve specific exercise, to determine the minimum number,” said an official of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, adding that the exercise being conducted now is a landscape-specific census.
LOST IN TRANSLATION. ALERT’s web site is now able to handle multiple languages, however what we lack is the ability to translate the content. We are asking for people that can spare just a few minutes to pick a page on our web site, translate it into any language and email it to us at email@example.com. We’ll post the text once received and ensure the message of the urgent need for lion conservation is spread to ever greater numbers of people. Thank you.
JABALPUR: Confined to the enclosure, sick and thirsty as the temperature soared above 44 Bandhavgarh National Park on Sunday. was one among the three orphaned cubs kept in the area especially marked since 2009 and was soon to be collared and released into the wild. on Sunday, death must have been painful for the adult tigress whose decomposing body was recovered in the
Eighteenth death within a span of two years, the last occurred just a week ago from Bandhavgarh has enraged wild life lovers and sent forest officials looking for cover. “Every tiger is precious but especially tragic is the loss of a tigress of breeding age” Belinda Wright,of wildlife protection society of India (WLPSI) declared.
Talking to TOI the noted activist cautioned the park authorities to be extra vigilant during summer months.comes in the midst of local reports that the tigress was served stale meat instead of a calf. A carcass was thrown into the enclosure – a usual practice to cut costs and pocket the amount. This coupled with paucity of water finally claimed her life.
Meanwhile jolted into a damage control mode the park administration has placed employees under suspension and now as the clamor for a better accountability and decisive action grows across the state , it is time for another fevered round of the predictable pass the buck game.
sounded contrite about the incident when Times of India contacted him on Monday. He was apprised of the unfortunate incident he admitted. He is upset he was awaiting a report about what exactly happened. Only when he has the report in hand then he could be in a position to talk about the preservation of tiger and related issues?, he declared.
When reminded that since two reports- one about the tigers cubs death on May 12 in Bandhavgarh and the second relating to a casualty in Pench Tiger Reserve on April 22 -were still pending, the minister hemmed and hawed. Let the findings come to me, he repeated.
Director of the park Sudhir Kumar said that Gajraj Singh the attendant of the enclosure and V Kartikeya the forest ranger have been placed under suspension for dereliction of duty. So was it lack of water or was food poisoning as locals allege which killed the big cat ? Kumar sounded clearly evasive and non committal.” It would be premature to hazard any guess at this stage” he said faithfully quoting the minister verbatim.
However, “the very fact that the animal lay rotting for nearly 50 hours before anyone spotted the body showed the scandalous level of monitoring and supervision” wildlife activist Ajay Dubey said. He also slammed the government for picking up lowest functionaries for punitive action while patronizing the bigger sharks, which has become a trade mark practice in MP.
“It is surely unthinkable that these creatures, which have roamed the planet for thousands, if not millions, of years, could disappear completely within a decade, or even less.
As a father and a soon-to-be grandfather, I find it inconceivable that our children and grandchildren could live in a world bereft of these animals. Humanity is less than humanity without the rest of creation. Their destruction will diminish us all.” – Prince Charles.
Roger Parry from the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust discovered some old friends on the camera traps he put up at the Wildhorizons concession just outside Victoria Falls. The cheetah on the right is a female that he captured on the same camera traps in March 2012, by then she was heavily pregnant, and shortly after gave birth to three cubs. At some point they left the concession, but last week the female and her cubs were sighted in the neighbourhood again, these pictures confirm they have returned to their old home. The cheetah on the left is one of the three cubs, we’re very happy to know all three cubs are still alive and are now close to adult size. In about four months time they will disperse from their mother.
Less than a hundred kilometers from the bustling metropolis of Jakarta, scientists have captured incredible photos of one of the world’s most endangered big cats: the Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas). Taken by a research project in Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park, the photos show the magnificent animal relaxing in dense primary rainforest. Scientists believe that fewer than 250 mature Javan leopard survive, and the population may be down to 100.
A few days back, I was walking the fascinating old forests of Boubinsky Prales in southern Czech Republic. A few patches of virgin wilderness, primarily beech forests with more than 200-year-old spruce and fir trees dotting the higher slopes, still survive in the Sumava mountains as the second oldest natural reserve in the country.
The pleasant hike through Boubin was in the shadows of ancient, giant trees and along a chirpy stream that would soon become the Vltava river and flow through Prague. It was a splendid and yet sad experience. The birds were vocal all around but there was no anticipation of a chance encounter with any carnivore. Sumava’s last wolf was shot in 1874, and the last bear, in 1856. There are appropriate monuments at the hunting spots. Apparently, the lynx still survives. So do a few species of shrew. I was not fortunate enough to spot any.
While discussing my plans for Boubin in Prague and Vimperk, a few unsuspecting Czechs were visibly excited to find out that I came from the land of the famous Bengal tiger. “How do Indians cope with maneaters” was the common question. The curiosity did not diminish in Poland and Hungary when I happened to exchange travel notes with fellow tourists or locals. The more informed were precise in their interrogation: “Isn’t the Sunderbans tiger, the meanest of tigers, the most ferocious maneater on earth?”
It was easy to be impatient but I recalled a similar exchange I had with a wildlife lover from Bengal a few years ago. He lives in Kolkata and knows the infamous tigers first hand. And yet, he believed that all the big cats of Sunderbans were “born maneaters”. It took me a long time to convince him that he was wrong. Frankly, I was not keen to go through that routine again but there was no option.
Let us assume, I told the curious Europeans, that all Sunderbans tigers consider humans as food. A tiger makes roughly 50 kills – one every week — a year to survive. Annually, this work out to be 15,000 kills for 300-odd tigers in Sunderbans. If humans are part of the normal prey base for these tigers, and since unarmed humans are the easiest to hunt, one would expect a sizeable number of these 15,000 kills to be humans. However, less than 100 people die in tiger attacks across Sunderbans every year. The figures do not add up.
Between 1984 and 2006, tigers killed 490 people in Bangladesh – roughly 21 victims a year. In the same period, data shows that of all the Sunderbans tigers that killed people, about 50 per cent killed only one person each, implying these were accidental attacks. Still alarmists keep asserting that the love for human flesh is embedded in the Sunderban tiger’s genes.
Tigers, or other carnivores, do not consider us food. Our great, great forefathers were very much on their menu just like the primates still are in the wild. But as we and our weapons evolved, carnivores have learnt to fear us as able adversaries. They generally follow a no-risk policy and maintain a respectable distance from groups of people, like they do from, say, an elephant herd or a pack of wild dogs.
At this point, I would be cut short by confused posers. “So do you mean tigers are safe?” I hastened to explain I do not. There are records of tigers, otherwise wary of elephants or wild dogs, opportunistically killing lonely calves or defending kills against a smaller pack. So, nothing prevents an otherwise respectful carnivore from making an occasional human kill if the victim seems suitably defenceless.
On the other hand, while tigers, particularly those in the Sunderbans mangroves, do kill humans opportunistically, only a miniscule proportion of tiger prey — India’s 1500-odd tigers make 75,000 kills a year – is human. But carnivores also defend themselves aggressively if they feel threatened. They are nature’s most efficient killers. Even a defensive slap from a tiger can kill instantly. It would hardly be any consolation that the tiger was unlikely to eat its victim in such cases.
As much as I thought I had made an excellent case, what eventually convinced the interrogators was a photograph taken by a friend a few years back in Ranthambhore. It shows a tiger walking within a few metres of a group of labourers, mostly women, who were being herded away by a forest guard to let the big cat pass by. The tiger looks unconcerned and the labourers are all smiles.
My interrogators were stumped. The disbelief was unmistakable. So I hastened to add that the frame did not tell us that tigers are friendly animals. No wild tiger ever made that claim. But since they roam free, they are bound to occasionally run into people in a crowded country like India. Even if there are enough inviolate sanctuaries for the wild to breed in peace, carnivores have to share space with people around those forests where they should not be considered strays or the people encroachers.
The photograph, I concluded, proved that mutual understanding and respect can make co-existence possible. For those who still did not look convinced, I saved the meanest for the last. The absence of that very Indian understanding and respect, I pointed out, had wiped out the bear and the wolf from Bavaria and much of the western world. This despite — and I could not resist feeling doubly patriotic about it — those bears and wolves not being half as efficient killing machines as our big cats.
“We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.” ― Albert Schweitzer
RANCHI: The Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) is witnessing a fast decline in the population of tigers because the reserve lacks animals tigers can prey on. In the last 10 years, 36 tigers have gone traceless from the reserve and forest guards posted there attribute this to the lack of rarely found spotted deer, blue-bulls, deer and other animals, tigers like to feast upon.
A high-level delegation of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which was in Ranchi on Saturday expressed concern over the decreasing number of deers in the reserve. The team which visited the reserve on Friday said it will write to the Wildlife Institute of India ( WII), Dehradun to conduct a prey population survey at the PTR at the earliest. of the survey would help authorities plan to naturally breed and allow them into the jungles to help the big cats prey.
“The NTCA is ready to finance it all. The PTR officials have been asked to come to Delhi and make a presentation of their plans to increase the prey population,” said a source in the NTCA.
As many as 36 tigers have gone missing from the PTR between 2003 and 2009. According to a 2003 tiger census, there were 42 tigers in the PTR. The number witnessed a sharp decline and in 2009 only six tigers were found.
“The NTCA team has said the survey of the prey population will help us in conserving the big cats. In recent times, the number of small herbivores has gone down a little,” said S E H Kazmi, director of the PTR.
Sources in the PTR said dwindlinghas forced , leopards and other carnivore animals to sneak into the 199 villages situated inside the reserve area and kill domestic animals. “The reports of carnivores killing domestic animals are frequent now,” said the official.
The NTCA team reviewed all such aspects during their daylong visit to the reserve in Daltonganj district on Friday.
The team which called upon forest secretary and other senior officers here on Saturday has given their feedback to the officials. The team included member secretary NTCA Dr Rajesh Gopal, inspector general NTCA H S Negi and deputy inspector general S P Yadav.
Principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) A K Malhotra said, “NTCA has recommended the survey of prey population to help us manage the prey population in a scientific manner. The only purpose is to make sure that the tigers do not leave the reserve owing to lack of food.”
a Tiger Journal.com begins a three-part interview series with Jean-Christophe Vié, Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme and Director of SOS – Save Our Species, for Endangered Species Day, May 17, 2013.
Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) May 17, 2013
a Tiger Journal.com begins a three-part interview with Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme and Director of SOS – Save Our Species, for Endangered Species Day, May 17, 2013.
“Wild tigers are in a critical state with less than 3,500 individuals remaining, of which only around 1,000 are thought to be breeding females,” says Vié. “Breeding populations are scattered across a number of small areas and are at risk of further decline due to unsustainable hunting of the prey base and direct poaching to satisfy an illegal market for skins, bones and other body parts. Current conservation strategy must adapt fast to change the status quo and improve enforcement effectiveness in protecting and recovering these breeding populations.”
In his interview with a Tiger Journal, Vié talks about the plight of species facing extinction, possible solutions and why he decide to work with on these issues.
“I am really concerned because things are really bad,” says Vié. “In the last years, we have lost even very charismatic species like three sub-species of rhinos; one in Vietnam and two in Africa (Cameroon and DRC). And when you lose a species like a rhino, which is not harmful to anyone, is actually a very peaceful animal that can generate large tourism income, then that’s quite worrying.”
Vié continues, “Also, fifty percent of primates are currently on the brink of extinction including species like the mountain gorilla. And it’s because people are hunting them, but also because their habitat is being destroyed. Mountain gorillas are stabilized for the time being, but for how long?”
About SOS – Save Our Species (SOS):
SOS is a global coalition initiated by the three founding partners the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank, to build the biggest species conservation fund, supporting on-the-ground field conservation projects all over the world.
According to Vié, the goal of SOS is to combine resources and funding experience from the World Bank and GEF, with the authoritative science of IUCN and the resources and ingenuity of the private sector, to create a mechanism that ensures sufficient funding goes to species conservation projects where, and when, it will have the most impact.
About Jean-Christophe Vié:
Vié joined the IUCN Global Species Programme in 2001 as its Deputy Director. He oversees many diverse aspects of the Programme, including regional and global biodiversity assessments and the Red List of Threatened Species, the assessment of climate change impact on biodiversity.
The IUCN inputs to several international agreements and supporting the extraordinary Species Survival Commission (SSC) network where the bulk of expertise about species resides. He also started developing SOS at the end of 2008 and became its Director when the initiative was launched at the end of 2010.
Vié’s involvement with IUCN started more than 20 years ago when he was invited to join the SSC. In early 2000, he joined the IUCN West Africa Regional Office where he was in charge of coordinating all aspects of the IUCN programme in Guinea Bissau including, among others, protected areas design and management, coastal zone management, local fisheries, public awareness, species conservation, capacity building and micro credit.
Vié has extensive field experience in various parts of the world including various parts of Africa, South America, Saudi Arabia and the USA where he spent 15 years overall. He started his career as a wildlife veterinarian with a main interest in primates. He also worked on the reintroduction of Arabian Oryx and subsequently designed projects covering a wide variety of Neotropical species such as marine turtles, manatees, giant otters, black caimans, primates and snakes.
Vié designed, and then directed, a large project aiming at monitoring the impacts of a dam on wildlife in a pristine area of tropical forest. He was also heavily involved in the design and management of protected areas, as well as public awareness campaign.
This led Vié to interact with a variety of stakeholders such as indigenous communities, local governments and administrations, logging companies, hunters, dam builders, fisheries and the private sector in general. He then completed a PhD in ecology and, while keeping a strong interest in species and site based conservation, he moved to more general conservation issues first regionally and then globally.
Parts two and three of the interview with Jean-Christophe Vié will be published in a Tiger Journal the week of May 20th, 2013.
Go here for more information about a Tiger Journal.com.
For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2013/5/prweb10744261.htm
Green signal for lion safari park in UP ~ KANPUR: The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) finally gave a green signal to the state government to set up a lion safari park in an area of 150.83 hectare in fisher forests of Etawah district for conservation of Asiatic Lions.
The Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) had, in July 2012, objected to the cutting of 30,000 babool trees undertaken in the fisher forest area, a reserved forest, in Etawah, for the development of lion safari project. It had then sent a letter to the principal secretary, forest on July 1, 2012, asking authorities to stop work immediately terming it as a violation of the Forest Conservation Act. The minister of state for forests Dr Shiv Pratap Yadav, during his visit to Fisher forest area in Etawah on Saturday, also apprised the media persons of the Centre’s positive response to the much ambitious project of the state.
“The ministry of environment and forests has given an NOC after we had sought a clarification in April over the implementation of provisions of Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980 in the Fisher forest despite having obtained the clearance of Central Zoo Authority in February this year,” said the minister. As per the MoEF’s own guidelines dated November 13, 2007, provisions of FCA were not applicable in forest areas even after having final approval of master plan from Central Zoo Authority.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav first came up with the idea of the lion safari project in 2005 but it could not take shape further in BSP regime in 2007.
In March 2012, soon after the Samajwadi Party government came to power, the state government quickly followed up the proposal so as to revive the project.
According to the forest department officials, the proposed lion safari would play a major role in conservation of the Asiatic Lions who were facing a serious threat to their survival.
“Apart from the in-situ conservation (on-site conservation or the conservation of genetic resources in natural populations of plant or animal species), the proposed lion safari would also play a major role in ex-situ conservation (off-site conservation), which is the process of protecting an endangered specie of a plant or animal outside its natural habitat,” said Sujoy Banerjee, deputy conservator of forest, National Chambal Sanctuary.
“Chief minister had already approved a budget of Rs 86 crore out of which 56 crore would be spent on construction work,” said Yadav. June 2015 has been set as a deadline for the construction work regarding the project, he added.
Four Asiatic Lions have already been brought to Kanpur Zoo and Lucknow Zoo from Hyderabad zoo and Rajkot zoo, recently. The government has authorized Uttar Pradesh Awas Vikas Parishad for the construction and execution of the lion safari. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/Green-signal-for-lion-safari-park-in-UP/articleshow/20129431.cms
NEW DELHI: Armed with ‘scientific evidence’ that the African cheetah is ‘not an alien species’ and can survive in India, the government is planning to petition the Supreme Court to allow the import of the animal that became extinct 60 years ago.
The environment ministry’s proposal comes after the apex court last month quashed the Rs 300 crore project to import and re-introduce the Namibian cheetah in India. The court had termed the environment ministery’s decision as ‘arbitrary and illegal’ and a clear violation of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The first batch of cheetahs from Namibia was to reach India by mid-2012 and was to be reintroduced in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary. But the idea was dropped after the apex court’s slammed the ministry for poor planning.
Eager to import the cheetah, the ministry has now decided to present “scientific evidence” to support its project to import the lithe and one of the fastest animal.
“We have decided to approach the Supreme Court based on scientific evidence that the African cheetah is not alien to India and can survive here,” a senior ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which is handling the programme, has called a meeting of the Project Cheetah task force on May 23.
“The task force will discuss it and give clearance,” the official said. The task force will convey its decision to Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan. She will then give a go-ahead for the proposal to be convyed to the Supreme Court,” the official said.
As the Supreme Court had rejected Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary for re-introducing the cheetah on various grounds, including the fact that the Asiatic lion from Gir is also being re-located there, the ministry has now proposed two new sites as the habitat for the cheetah.
“We are proposing Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuaries (in Madhya Pradesh) and Shahgarh Landscape (in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan) after our first choice was rejected,” the official said.
The sites were selected in 2009 based on a detailed study by the wildlife experts.
The official defended the earlier proposal of re-locating the cheetah, saying the apex court was “not properly appraised” about the scientific evidence that backed the project.
“The cheetah which existed in India is only genetically different from African Cheetah and not an alien species. It can survive in the sites that our wildlife experts have selected,” the official said.
Today, the cheetah is found only in the arid regions of eastern Iran in Asia and in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
The project was the brainchild of former environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who had with great fanfare announced Project Cheetah in 2009. Soon after, a study was conducted by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on where the cheetah could be housed.
The return of the cheetah would make India the only country in the world to host six of the world’s eight large cats, including lions, tigers, jaguars, panthers and leopards.
India was once home to many cheetahs, but the last of them was killed in 1947. It was declared extinct in 1952. It is the only large animal to have been declared extinct in India in recorded history.
The cheetah, the smallest of the big cats, can run faster than any other animal on land, at more than 100 km per hour.
With their leader gone, Coco and Spud struggled for a while, but Spud has now started hunting well and the two are doing fine.
As of February, Bones has now rejoined his Siblings, but he still has the urge to wander. We can only guess at this point. Time will tell, as we are trying to learn more and understand these beautiful cats. But, whatever the information we glean, these Siblings are solid proof that you can rehabilitate a genetically strong, captive Cheetah!