Junagadh (D)

  • Duplicity

    While the Agarias wage a constant struggle with the forest department, the government has allegedly turned a blind eye to pollution by two soda ash-making units run by major industrial groups. At

  • Effluents from Tata

    At the Tata plant in Mithapur, effluent is taken to huge mud trenches, effluent-settlement ponds, which cover about 243 ha. The liquid is supposed to go to the sea from here after suspended solids in

  • Scorching salt

    Scorching salt

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  • Lion cub carcass found in Gir, infighting among prides suspected

    In what appears to be the fallout of infighting to gain pride control, a lion cub's carcass was found from Dudhala Nes area of Raydi range of Gir (West) on Monday morning, by a team of forest officials. With the process of dispersal at its peak, show of strength for control of territory as well as pride is a common occurrence among male lions of different prides.

  • Ambani village to go dry till it pays up

    This is Dhirubhai Ambani's birthplace. Located right on the coast, it is one of the hundreds of villages along Gujarat's 1600-km coastline which have been inflicted by salinity of soil. Kukasvada, which has a population of 10,000, does not have sweet water wells. Villagers have stopped getting drinking water in the taps. The few rich families here purchase water from private tankers at Rs 350 per 1,000-litre. Others travel several kilometres to fetch water.

  • Trust seeks funds to cap Gir wells

    Wildlife Conservation Trust of Rajkot has made a fresh appeal to corporates to help them fund their effort to construct parapet walls around open wells in the Gir area so that lions don't fall into

  • Saving the tiger

    PM must keep his pledge by Lt Gen (retd) Baljit Singh Because it is there'! That was the pithy response of George Mallory during a fund-raising lecture in Cambridge in 1924 when one in the audience asked: "Why climb the Everest?' Elaborating further on the interrogative "why' to our quest for preserving the Royal Bengal Tiger species in the wilderness in India, let us not forget that first and foremost the tiger is India's national animal. And therefore it is one of the icons of our nationhood. Now that the Government of India has conceded that we are left with less than 1,200 tigers, the question which begs the answer is: how shall we save the species from imminent extinction? Perhaps we can draw strength by recalling experiences from the last century where certain mammal and bird species were successfully provided a second lease of life, and draw lessions therefrom to mitigate the current tiger crisis facing us. We have the case when in 1903 the eight Asiatic lions in the Gir forest constituted the only surviving pride of lions in the entire world. It was a common practice in colonial India for the rulers of the princely states to host the Viceray over the Christmas week. So the Nawab of Junagadh conceived the idea of tempting Lord Curzon with what would virtually be the last hunt in Asia for a lion trophy. Making departure with protocol, Lord Curzon replied in person to the Nawab. He declined his gracious invitation, inveigled with him to ban lion hunting altogether and protect the Gir forests so that the Asiatic lion may survive to perpetuity. This provides us the finest example where the astute vision of the head of a Government coupled with an unwavering political will saved a mammal species from the very jaws of extinction. Lord Curzon's successors and the Nawabs of Junagadh kept up that resolve so that on India's Independence in 1947 there were about 62 Asiatic lions in the Gir. Today they number more than 300! Moving on to 1972 we arrive at the fateful year when the Arabian Oryx was declared extinct from the wild. And with that we come to the story where philanthropy of a handful petro-dollar rich princes of the UAE has aided the reintroduction of this speices. Starting in the 1980s, in zealously guarded and regularly patrolled selected areas on the Arabian peninsula, where about 800 captively bred Arabian Oryx were released in trickle now and then, a new lease of life was provided to this species. This is a beginning of what may be the only initiative in the reintroduction of a species after total extinction. One crucial factor of success was that in Saudi Arabia alone a mind-boggling 2200 sq miles area for reintroduction was totally fenced-in which, without philanthropy, is simply unthinkable. At this stage, it is essential for me to state emphatically that as of now, unfortunately, there has been very little success with reintroducing hand-reared or captively bred carnivore to the wild. George and Joy Adamson, who left India in the 1940s to settle in S. Africa, tried to release in the wild their hand-reared, orphaned lion cubs. These animals were either not canny enough or were wanting in physical vitality to stand up to their free-ranging members. The attempts failed to establish a precedence. In India, "Billy' Arjun Singh, now an octogenerian, attempted to hand-rear a female tiger cub born in and purchased from the London zoo, with the idea of ultimately releasing it in the Dudhwa tiger reserve. He fared better than the Adamsons in as much that Harriet did made with a free-ranging tiger, littered in the wild but brought the week-old cubs back, one by one to a room in Tiger Haven, Billy's home on the fringes of Dudhwa! The story beyond is marred in controversy whether Harriet and her progency perished through deliberately poisoned baits by the Forest Department or at the hands of poachers? A similar attempt by Billy with a leopard cub (Prince) also remained an inconclusive venture. Antagonists of the tiger conservation idea will be quick to point out that in Texas there as nearly 3,000 tigers (Royal Bengal and Sumatran species) living in captivity inside large enclosures on the ranches of the rich Americans. But this in no way can be a living gene pool for us to reintroduce them in our wilds for two basic imponderables. First, there are no reports yet of their having littered in capivity in Texas. If they do and by the time we hand-rear them in India, they may meet the same fate as Harriet's progeny. Worse, by then their natural prey base in India's wilds would have diminished forcing them to become cattle or man eaters. And the same disadvantage will be faced even if we were to purchase adults from this lot in Texas and reintroduce them after the extirpation of the species from its habitat. We must save en block the last 1,000-odd surviving tigers and their habitat and create conditions for the numbers to multiply to about 5,000 animals or else India and the world would lose the tiger species from the wild

  • 81 lion deaths from January 2006-08

    A total of 81 lions have died across the country from January 2006 to 2008, with nine of them becoming victims of poaching, Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday. Fifty two lions died a natural death, one because of an accident and six due to electrocution while 13 fell in a well and nine lions died because of poaching in Gir protected area and surrounding habitats of Gujarat. Out of the six lions electrocuted, five of them died in Permpara village, outside the Gir Protected Areas in October 2007. Investigation shows that a farmer had laid electrified wire fencing his agriculture land to prevent crop damage from wild herbivores, minister of state for environ ment and forests S. Regupathy said.

  • Nal Sarovar boating routes fixed on lines of Gir forest

    Now, you may not have to shell out those extra bucks that boatmen demand in lieu of taking you deeper into Nal Sarovar to watch the winged visitors. The forest department has framed eight routes in this 120 sq km lake, on the lines of Gir sanctuary, where the boatmen would take the visitors. This will ensure that people do not end up paying more considering that the charges of boating at Nal Sarovar are per person per hour. Forest department officials said that it was noticed that a tourist would hire the boat for one hour and end up spending several hundred more because he would not be able to watch the birds. The officer said that earlier the boatman would row the boat slowly consuming more time and later he would ask for double the amount while in middle of the lake. "A person coming to watch the birds would agree to pay the rate, which is asked when he is in the lake and has not been able to watch the birds,' a forest department official said. After deliberations with the boatmen and their association, the eight routes to eight different islets inside the lake have been fixed. "The routes were fixed following the Gir Sanctuary where there were different routes and the tourist was asked to pick up the route.' said the officer. Deputy Conservator of Forest B D Modi said, "The routes were decided based on the maximum time they can take to reach a location. The timings of the route range from one hour to six hours and the tourists will chose the route and pay accordingly.' Modi said that to identify the spots, the forest department has also put marks and boards on the islets. There were boats put at Dhrabla bet, Sur Bet, Limsi Bet and others. He said that the sixhour route was the longest route. This route was from Nalsarovar entry point to Limsi bet, Sur bet, Panvad Bet, Dhrabla bet, Cholathali bet, Chera bet and back. This was the route which covered all the routes. He further said besides this routes there were rates being in the ratio of per person and per hour. This would help the tourist to choose there route according to their pockets and budgets. People at Nal Sarovar for a boat ride

  • Probe over, no arrests made for Gir forest fires

    The eastern ranges of Dhari in the Gir sanctuary have experienced over four mishaps in the past one-and-a-half months. Yet the cause of these forest fires has not been traced nor culprits booked.

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