Sharp decline in number of vultures, just 1043 left in state


Junagadh (Gujarat, India) Breeding centre starts Delivering results

The government appears to be doing precious little for improving the vulture count in the state. While their numbers have dropped to 1043 which is the lowest count registered so far, the government has so far spent only Rs. 19.70 lakhs for their conservation in the last two years.

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The count recorded in 2007 was 2539 and ever since then, there has been a sharp decline. Their number was 1431 in 2008 and 1043 in May 2010.

In written reply to a question from Wakaner (Rajkot, Gujarat, India) MLA Mohammed Javed Pirzada, environment and forest minister Ganpat Vasava said that apart from an awareness campaign to conserve vultures, the government has also started a vulture breeding centre at Sakkarbaugh Zoo in Junagadh (Gujarat, India). In addition to this, the union government has banned the use of Diclofenac treatment by vets, especially on cattle.


Vasava claimed that the centre at Sakkarbaugh Zoo has started showing results in the form of a White Rumped vulture being bred successfully. Two vultures have been born there in the last 2 years.

Officials said that vulture conservation in Gujarat has got a major boost with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) selecting Mahuva (Rajkot, Gujarat, India) and Ahmadabad among the six provisional Vulture Safe Zones (VSZ) in India.

A recent survey has indicated that the current state wide estimated population of ‘critically endangered’ Gyps vultures is 938, White- Rumped vultures is 577 and Long Billed Vultures is 361.

The survey has shown a reduction of 11.34 per cent in the population of Gyps vultures between 2010 and 2013. In 2010, there were 1,065 Gyps vultures. In the survey carried last year, 97 Egyptian vultures and eight Red headed vultures have been enumerated.

Courtesy:- Times Of India (Saturday, 23rd February, 2013).



20 Things to Do in Ayutthaya

1. Praise the “Maha Ut Chapel”: It has been believed that a visit to a windowless chapel with a single entrance or “Bot Maha Ut” protects us against lethal weapons and magic spells, enables us to avert danger, and makes us invulnerable. This “Maha Ut Chapel” can be seen at Wat Phutthaisawan and Wat Tuek.


2. Worship the Buddha images and contemplate the murals: Wat Suwan Dararam, Wat Pradu Song Tham, Wat Phanun Choeng, Wat Na Pramen, Wat Kasattrathirat, Wat Sena Sanaram, and Wat Choeng Tha are all adorned with valuable murals that await your visit.

3. Worship the reclining Buddha image: In Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, there are Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Lokayasutharam, Wat Sam Wihan, Wat Puttai Sawan, Wat Dharmikkarat, Wat Sena Sanaram, and Wat Phanom Yong. In Maha Rat District, there is Wat Suwannachedi as for Sena District, there is Wat Bang Pla Mo.

4. Worship the royal monuments: Visit the royal monuments of King U-thong, Queen Suriyothai, King Naresuan the Grea (at Thung Phukhao Thong and Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon) and King Taksin the Great at Wat Phichai Songkhram and Wat Phran Nok in Uthai District.

5. Discover the sumptuous palaces and the architectural masterpieces: Such monuments reflect the prodigious talent and craftsmanship of the Ayutthaya Period. Visit Bang Pa-in Palace, Ancient Palace or Grand Palace, and Chandra Kasem Palace.

6. Visit various museums: Get to know the glorious past of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and learn the history through your visit to its several museums such as Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Chandra Kasem National Museum, Ayutthaya Study Institute, Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, Local Museum in Ban Phraek District, Thai Boat Museum, and Million Toy Museum by Krirk Yoonpun.

7. Explore the history of foreign communities in the Ayutthaya Period: Pay a visit to Portuguese Village, Japanese Village and Dutch Village.


8. Browse through 8 Ayutthaya‘s markets: that are still busy on land as well as in the water such as Wat Tha Ka Rong Floating Market, Hua Raw Market, Thung Khwan Market (Khlong Sa Bua) in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Kong Khong Market in Bang Pa-in District, and Lat Chado Market in Phak Hai District.

9. Have a terrific time discovering local wisdom areas: Admire arts and crafts such as knife-making village at Aranyik in Nakhon Luang District or folk doll-making in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District. Appreciate a diverse range of handicrafts at the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand and Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre in Bang Sai District.

10. Take a pleasure cruise around Muang Islet: To admire the surrounding scenery and way of life of residents along the Chao Phraya River and Pa Sak River. Moreover, food and drink with plenty of options on the menu are at your disposal on board.

11. Enjoy a ride on elephant’s back to see ancient monuments and get to know Thai Elephants at several places such as Ayutthaya Elephant Village and Kraal and Pang Chang Ayothaya & Snake Show in Phai Ling Sub-district.


12. Enjoy riding a bicycle, which is regarded as environmentally friendly tourism. Bicycles are available for hire at bicycle rental stores, guest houses, in front of the railway station, and tourist police office

13. Join a short trip arranged for tourist groups on a tramcar and listen to guide’s explanation.

14. Go for a ride on Tuk Tuk for sightseeing: A symbolic mode of transport in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya that brings sightseers to discover the length and breadth of the city.

15. Take a leisurely ride in a three-wheel rickshaw “Samlor”: Local public vehicles whose cyclist enjoys telling stories as a member of the community while you appreciate soft breeze.

16. Eat out until dawn at the night market: Visit the market in front of Chandra Kasem Palace, the all-night market in front of Grand Market, Rung Charoen Market, and Bang Suk San Waree Dinner Cruise Ian Market.

17. Experience the delights of a homestay: Assimilate the host’s lifestyle, get a hospitable welcome, and make yourselves at home at OTOP Village in Koh Kerd Sub-district.


18. Reserve chic sleeping accommodation in the style of boutique hotel: The different accommodation are Iudia on the River, Ayodhara Village, Bansuan Rimnam Resort, Pludhaya Resort & Spa, Ban Luang Chumni.

19. Riverside restaurants with splendid views: Tourists can sit down to tasty meals and take pleasure in looking at magnificent scenery at a wide variety of restaurants along the riverside.

20. Bring the shopping back to your family: It seems as if you have never reached Ayutthaya if you fail to get your family the following things: soup made of curdled blood of pig, noodle soup sold in rowing boat, pork or meat noodle soup, Phak Wan noodle soup, steamed stuffed bun, rice gruel, desserts wrapped in banana leaf, big freshwater prawns, fruit and vegetables. Other interesting souvenirs are Aranyik knives, fan palm leaf mobile woven in the form of fish and model ancient boats.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Great Indian Bustard (GIB) census starts in Rajasthan, India

The state level winter census of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) started from February 10th in the state. The GIB is a bird which is on the verge of extinction.

Chief forest conservator, wildlife, Jodhpur, (Rajasthan, India) Govind Sagar Bhardwaj, has been appointed the nodal officer for the census. Only 100 Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is alive in the country and nearly 50 of them are in Jaisalmer(Rajasthan, India).


A workshop for the census was organized at a Hotel in Jaisalmer (Rajasthan, India) on Friday, in which six forest divisions, voluntary organizations and army jawans participated.

Deputy conservator of forests, ML Sonal informed the participants about the wildlife census. State wildlife board, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India member Rajpal Singh was the guest of honor.

Information about the preparations for the census, deputy forest conservator Karan Singh said that this time the transit lines have been increased and five new tracks have been laid outside the Desert National Park. A control room has been set up at the wildlife office. The team constituted for census work will be provided with a wireless set, head set, GPS, binoculars, etc. the census will be carried out on the scheduled track on camels and on foot.

Deputy forest conservator, Desert national Park, GK Verma, regional forest officer Pankaj Gupta, assistant forest conservator Rewat Singh Godara and regional forest officers also took part in the workshop. Assistant forest conservator (wildlife) VK Bissa, who conducted the workshop, gave a vote of thanks.

Great Indian Bustard

During December last year, a Great Indian Bustard (GIB) was poached; bit till date there is no clue of the poachers. Human interference is responsible for the diminishing numbers of these birds as it prevents the shy bird from breeding.

The state government and the centre appear indifferent towards saving the bird. Although, a plan for GIB conservation has been sent to the centre, but no action has been taken so far.

Courtesy:- Times Of India (Monday, 11th, February, 2013)

Roar of the cub club in Gir

Youth takes over Gujarat’s pride

The ‘cub club’ has taken over Gir Sanctuary(Junagadh, Gujarat, India) and surrounding areas in Gujarat, the last remaining home of Asiatic Lions in the world. More than a third of the 400- lions are now less than 3 years old. Of these, 50 percent have not even crossed the one year mark. This is a demographic that experts and foresters say will only help in conserving this unique animal that has come back from the edge of extinction.


The first census of lions by Gujarat, India in 1964 has shown that the numbers of the wild cat had dropped to precarious depths at just 177. According to the last census in May 2010, there are 411 lions in the state. Every year, some 70 cubs are born, but only 56 per cent live to see the third year of their lives. As present, 37 per cent of the population is below three years.

This number, however, is way better when compared with African lions. The website of the Kalahari Predator Conservation Trust (Botswana), quoting International Union for conservation of Nature (IUCN), states that food shortage, negligence and the takeover by other male lions results in only 20 per cent of cubs living to experience more than two years of their lives. About 27 per cent of all cubs die from the hierarchical invasion by another male lion.


Says HS Singh, additional  principal conservator of forests, “In Gir, the territorial battles seem to be happening at an older age, which has reduced the cannibalism and improved the survival rate of the cubs.” Not only within the sanctuary, are young cubs found elsewhere as well. Although they seem to be doing much better in Gir East and Gir west areas within the sanctuary. The wild cats had started moving out of the sanctuary about a decade ago. “Today, they are found in substantial numbers in regions like Amreli and Bhavnagar outside the sanctuary, but the numbers of cubs is comparatively less here,” says Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest.


A study by V. Meena of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun,(India) called ‘Reproductive Strategy and Behaviors of Male Asiatic Lions’ revealed that the survival rate of the cub was the lowest in the first year of birth. It adds that cub survival depends on factors like infanticide (which results in death of 60% cubs), abandonment (13%) and other natural causes (26%).


Yadvendradev Jhala, research associate at WII says, “Thirty – seven per cent cubs in the wild is a very high number. The forest department should not make efforts to save all these new born as it would mean interfering in the natural process in which the bad genes die and the best survive.”

Courtesy:- Times Of India (Monday, 11th, February, 2013)

Decline rate of vultures in India slows

Vultures may not be the most pleasant birds to contemplate, given their not so pleasant appearance and association with death, but they serve a vital role in an Eco – system by eating dead flesh.


Throughout India, vulture populations have plummeted to less than one percent of what they were a few decades ago, leading to an epidemic of uneaten cattle carcasses and spawning an increase in the number of rats, feral dogs and human rabies cases from dog bites.

But they may be some hope for these much maligned birds: Their decline had slowed, stopped or even reversed in some areas of the Indian Subcontinent, according to a paper published on February 7th in the journal – Science.

The birds declined largely because ranchers started giving their cattle an anti inflammatory drug called diclofenac that the birds ingested when they ate the dead cattle, paper author and Cambridge researcher Andrew Balmford said. In 2006, following revelations that diclofenac was deadly to the birds, the Government of India, Pakistan and Nepal banned the use of the drug for cattle.

Bangladesh followed in 2010, and in May 2012 the four governments reached an ‘unprecedented political agreement’ to prevent unintentional poisoning of the vultures from veterinary drugs, Balmford told OurAmazingPlanet.

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Many ranchers have adopted an alternative drug that is safe to vultures, Balmford said, but the increase of other drugs in concerning, especially one that’s close in structure to diclofenac, Balmford said. Restrictions on these drugs are needed, he added.

Nevertheless, vulture numbers have leveled off in many areas, and increase elsewhere.

Courtesy:- Times Of India ( Monday 11th, February, 2013)

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