19 April 2013

Amreli’s Lions Distressed By Firing Practice

April 2013: In February and March every year, Gujarat’s Amreli district police conducts firing practice in Khambha town, barely half a kilometre away from the Mityala Wildlife Sanctuary, home to seven Asiatic lions (as per the census conducted in 2010).
In addition, the region acts as an important corridor for larger lion populations in the district. The annual firing practice sees around 70 policemen of various ranks firing 32 rounds each day: a total of 950 cops firing no less than 30,000 rounds in the area over the course of the practice session. The sound of the gunshots is naturally distressing to the lions, which flee the region, sometimes venturing into neighbouring farms looking for livestock to hunt. “We have written to the concerned government departments to find an alternate firing range as this one is very close to the wildlife sanctuary,” Vimalsinh Rathod, a wildlife activist in Khambha told the Times of India. He hopes such activities are banned in a 10 km. periphery around the sanctuary, and that it will be declared a silent and eco-sensitive zone.
Source: Sanctuary Asia.

15 April 2013

SC allows translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to MP

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh.

In its verdict the apex court gave six months for translocation of the endangered species from Gir sanctuary in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

“The species which is on the verge of extinction needs a second home,” the apex court ruled responding to a PIL filed by an environmental group on whether the Asiatic lions should be shifted to Kuno to avoid extinction of the endangered species in case of a calamity or disease.

The two BJP-governed states have been at loggerheads over the translocation of the Asiatic lions.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had asked the Gujarat government to send a few lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur sanctuary. However, the Gujarat government had argued against the need to move the Asiatic lions, saying that the Kuno reserve isn’t suitable for lions as it houses tigers, and its weather and environment aren’t conducive for their survival.

The court has also constituted a large expert body to decide the number of lions to be relocated and closely monitor their translocation in Madhya Pradesh.

However, the court has ruled against the introduction of African cheetahs in India.

Asiatic lion is listed as endangered by International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based on the small population size and exists as a single isolated population in Gujarat. 

Source: http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/sc-allows-translocation-of-asiatic-lions-from-gujarat-to-mp_842195.html

12 April 2013

Rajasthan declares Mukundra Hills as its third tiger reserve

JAIPUR: After Ranthambore and Sariska, Rajasthan will now boast of yet another tiger reserve. The state government has declared the Mukundra Hills a reserve for the conservation of the majestic cats, officials said on Thursday.

"We have received the notification letter from the state government. The reserve area is spread over 759 square kilometres in four districts — Kota, Bundi, Chittorgarh and Jhalawar. About 417 square kilometres have been defined as the core tiger habitat, while an area of 342.82 has been notified as the buffer zone," a senior forest department officer told IANS.

Mukundra Hills is connected with the Ranthambore National Park, located in the state's Sawai Madhopur district.

In the two existing reserves in the state, Ranthambore has 50 majestic cats including 24 cubs, while Alwar's Sariska is home to nine tigers.

"The existing area in Ranthambore National Park is adequate for about 35-40 tigers. Four tigers have been killed in territorial fights in Ranthambore over the past four years. So the introduction of a new tiger reserve will ease the pressure from Ranthambore and boost tiger conservation in the state," the officer said, adding that the Ranthambore tigers already frequently stray into the Mukundra Hills, so extending the reserve area would allow them freer passage.

Four villages within the newly notified area will be shifted, the officer said.

The state government had earlier received the in-principle nod from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to declare Mukundra Hills a tiger reserve.

An annual working plan for the development and management of the newly notified reserve is still to be approved by the NTCA, the officer said.

"It may take about a year before the tigers are shifted to Mukundra," the officer said. 

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/Rajasthan-declares-Mukundra-Hills-as-its-third-tiger-reserve/articleshow/19498133.cms

11 April 2013

New pine species in Arunachal

Scientists at the Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI) here have found a new sub-type pine forest in Arunachal Pradesh, said to be the first such forest in India.
The forest comprises Pinus merkusii trees, a pine species, and is spread over an area that is large enough to qualify as a sub-type forest.
The RFRI at Sotai on the outskirts of this town, about 310km east of Guwahati, is the only one of its kind in the Northeast under the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) — an autonomous body under the Union ministry of forests and environment.