For Saurashtrians(Gujarat, India), “lions are like kin”

The people of Saurashtra(Gujarat, India) take care of lions as they would of their family members. If they spot a lion iIMG_3668n the vicinity of their village, they take pride in the fact and protect it. These statements were made by the government in the assembly for the first time.

Minister of state for forests and environment Govind Patel – in response to a question from Nikol MLA Jagdish Panchal – informed the house that lions were found in many places of India, but they survive only in Gujarat owing to people’s conservation efforts.

“They are the pride of Gujarat and it was only because of the people of Saurashtra that the lion population grew,” Patel said.

“Even if lions attack cattle in villages, the villagers are tolerant of lions”.

Patel told the house that government has also created post of ‘van mitras’ who take care of the animal and keep a watch on the movement inside the sanctuary. He said 898 eco-clubs had been formed in the Saurashtra region.

Responding to a question Patel said that there were 411 lions – 97 males and 162 females – in the sanctuary. He further said that the state had created gene – pool centers. Five new cubs have been born in the last year at the Rampara Virdi centre. These cubs have been born to two pairs of lions captured from completely different areas and brought to Rampara to ensure that the genes different. These centre’s provide a shield against weakening genes of Gir Lions.

For example if the lioness was from Sasan (Gujarat, India), the lion would be from a far off area of Tulsishyam(Jungadh, Gujarat, India) or even Bhavnagar. The minister said that there have been no instances of villagers offering baits to lions in order to show the animals to visitors. However, he admitted that his department had penalized people caught on the spot to the tune of Rs. 93,000 to Rs 31,400.

Courtesy: Times of India.   


Of 92 lion deaths in last two years, 83 were natural

No incident of poaching: Government

A total of 92 lions have died in the last two years in Saurashtra region (Gujarat, India). Of these, 83 died natural deaths while the remaining nine died of accidental causes, like falling into open wells.

Minister of state forest and environmental Govind Patel told the House in a written reply to Lathi MLA Bhavku Unghad’s question. The government said that said that 46 lions each died in the year 2011 and 2012. The minister said that among the dead cats were 43 cubs, 20 males, while the rest were females.

The minister said that there was no incident of poaching in the any part of the state. He added that in 2011 five lions lost like in different kinds of incidents, while the number was four in 2012.

The death of 46 animals was normal as only 11 per cent of the animals are dying annually. The officer said that also there was a drop over the past few years in the number of accidental deaths. The forest department has begun a drive to cover up wells in and around Gir Forest (Gujarat, India). However, such incidents of death due to falling in a well were reported in the areas far away from the sanctuary.

The official added that of one looked at the figure more cubs have died recently. A study by Dr. V. Meena of the Wildlife Institute of India titled “Reproductive Strategy and Behavior of Male Asiatic Lions” revealed that survival rate of cubs was lowest in the first year of birth and gradually increases in second and third year, he added.

Courtesy: – Times Of India

Can Indian geneticists revive Asiatic cheetah?

A few days ago, when scientists inched closer to reviving an Australian frog species that has been extinct for the last 30 years, they also revived the world’s fascination for De-extinction – a concept that walks the thin line between science fiction and reality. Bringing to life species that have been wiped off the face of earth is a dream many geneticists have pursued for years.

“If India were to aggressively pursue it, there are at least three extinct species that can get a shot at coming back for the dead” says Sandeep Sharma of the Washington based Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

“High on the list is the Asiatic Cheetah that went extinction in India soon after Independence. The others are the pink-headed duck and the maintain quail. There are a few pre-historic species, too, but then it might get too ambitious.”

Indian geneticists have been attempting to clone the Asiatic Cheetah – a favorite animal of the Mughal emperor Akbar who reportedly has an army of 1000 cheetahs accompany him on his hunting expeditions. But efforts to recreate the majestic predator have encountered several roadblocks. “The biggest hurdle is procuring the cell-line of the cheetah and defining protocols for somatic cell transfer. Once this happens, we have a realistic chance of reviving the cheetah in India,” says S Shivaji of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hydrabad.

Somatic cell transfer involves creating a clone embryo with a donor nucleus in a laboratory and is considered as the first step in reproductive cloning. India has recently imported a few cheetahs whose cell lines, says Shivaji, CCMB is trying to get. After that, it would be a case of attempting again and again – success rates in reproductive cloning are just about 5% till an Asiatic cheetah cub is born.

Asiatic-Cheetah-by-Ghoddousi-HRNobody knows when this might happen. “We are still not sure what factors combine together to create the 5% success rate,” says Shivaji.

De-extinction itself is a subject that has drawn diverse opinions. Those opposing it says that is a species went extinct over a period of time – Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest propounds this is nature’s way of balancing itself – is it prudent to re-introduce it in an ecosystem where some other species may have taken over it role? Ulhas Karanth of Wildlife Conservation Society says it makes no sense at all. “De-extinction is unlikely to work because factors that caused the original extinction continue to operate”.

However, De-extinction proponents continue to be gung-ho about its prospects. “It should not be an either/or question,” says Ryan Phelan, executive director of Us NGO Revive & Restore which recently organized a much publicized conference on the subject along with National Geographic and TED. “It’s really an all one continuum. What’s good for extinct species will be great for endangered ones”.

If man does succeed in playing god, it might just be Jurassic Park all over again, hopefully minus the horror.

Courtesy: – Times of India.

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)

Birds Paradise

Birds Paradise

Photo Courtesy:- Times Of India

Flight to Khijadia

Great White Pelican Captured at Khijadia Bird Sanctuary

Great White Pelican Captured at Khijadia Bird Sanctuary

The chill has set in and Khijadia bird Sanctuary near Jamnagar is bustling with activity. Hundreds of migratory birds have flocked to the wetlands here and so have the bird watchers. The sanctuary is best known for the rare black necked storks. Forest officials said that 30 of them are already nesting in the sanctuary. The marshy land is replete with over 250 species of migratory birds like bar – tailed godwit, duck, cranes, teals, pelicans and various storks.


A birds interpretation center has also been set up in Khijadia, where details of the various birds have been displayed for educational and Information purpose. it shows the nesting of birds, their voices, food habits, nests among other details. Six towers have been set up for bird watching in the sanctuary, said Ravi Dutt Kamboj, chief conservator of forest, Marine National Park, Jamnagar.

Courtesy:- Times Of India.

Randarda Lake(Rajkot, Gujarat, India) gets wings

Sunset At Randada Lake, Rajkot, Gujarat, India.

Sunset At Randarda Lake, Rajkot, Gujarat, India.

Randarda Lake has turned into a bird watchers paradise with a large number of migratory birds arriving at the water body. The 100 year old lake is home to many indigenous birds also.

The natural lake with shallow water is located near Rajkot Municipal Corporation’s (RMC’s) Pradhyuman Park Zoo. According to ardent bird watcher Ashol Mashru, “This Lake is home to about 167 bird species which include 15 species of ducks and eight of eight of fly catcher. As many as 60 species of migratory birds can be spotted here”.

Purple Moorhen at Randarda Lake, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Purple Moorhen at Randarda Lake, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

He said that Randarda Lake has supporting natural eco – system with shallow water which provide suitable environment for birds. Moreover, there is a nursery managed by forest department adjoining the lake that provides good tree cover where birds can roost. Some of the bird species that can be seen there include black tailed god-wit, rosy pastor, pheasant tailed jacana, purple moor hen, wigeon, common teal, pelican and spoon bill.

Common Teal at Randarda Lake, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Common Teal at Randarda Lake, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Courtesy:- Times of India

Birds of A Feather

A week end hangout at Thol lake, roughly 40 km from Ahemdabad(connected to all major Indian Cities equipped with International Aiport daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai), always rejuvenating. Recently water levels in this lake spread over 700 hectares have risen to 6.9 feet due to release of Narmada waters. As a result, nearly 150 flamingos have moved away to distance where water are shallow. However, two pairs of Sarus Crane make a treat for the eyes as they stand tall amid lush green grass. They have also laid eggs there. At present, there are 100 spoon bills, 1,000 coots, 1500 cormorants besides other waders. TOI(Times of India) lensman Amrit Mewada captured some winged beauties.

Here are some Photos

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Courtesy:- Times of India

White-rumped vulture found dead

A juvenile oriental white-rumped vulture was found dead at Junagam near Hazira, some 27kms from Surat in South Gujarat, on Wednesday. Locals informed volunteers belonging to Nature Club(Surat) about the dead bird. This vulture species is protected under Schedule 1 category of Wildlife Protection Act. “It was a juvenile of oriental white-rumped vulture species. it was lying dead. We collected the bird from the spot and sent it to the forest department in Mahuva, Bhavnagar District, where the facility to keep dead birds exists,” co-coordinator, Vultures’ Conservation Program, Nature Club(Surat), Viral Prajapati said. The postmortem of the dead bird will be done at Pinjore to ascertain the cause of death. According to nature conservationists, three species of vulture endemic to South Asia- the oriental white-rumped vulture gyps Bengalensis, longbilled vulture gyps indices and slender-billed vulture gyps gastroenteritis- are at high risk of extinction. “It has been observed that oriental white-rumped vultures are usually found in the western region of south Gujarat. A small population of oriental white-rumped vulture and long billed vulture still survive in south Gujarat’s coastal part near Hazira. There are about 45 oriental white-rumped vultures,” Prajapati said. Use of veterinary drug diclofenac is responsible for bringing the three species of vulture’s endemic to South Asia to the brink of extinction. The Government of India banned the drug in May 2006. Recently, the state government had said in the state assembly that there were only 1,065 vultures in Gujarat.


Courtesy:- Times Of India


Glamorous Places- Myanmar

Myanmar On Your Mind?


It’s rare that a country bursts onto the tourism scene with quite as much vigor as Myanmar. After decades of isolation, it’s Asia’s newest hot spot, offering richly layered history, spectacular natural beauty and the edginess that comes with a country still in transition. Since the ruling military junta began to loosen its grip on the government in November2010 signs, of progress – like Opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi winning a seat in Parliament and the release of some political prisoners earlier this year- have lad Western nations to consider dropping long-held economic sanctions.
But a visit to the country, also known as Burma, can be a bit tricky. Here, then, is a cheat sheet for a visit.

Before you go

Although it is possible to get a visa on arrival, travel agents recommend having one in hand before your trip begins. Arrangements take up to three weeks and can be made via travel agents or directly through the Myanmar Embassy.
Most tourists visit during the dry season, from November to February. Vaccinations are not required, but Myanmar travels experts like Eric Kareus, the Asia destination manager at Asia Transpacific Journeys, recommended making sure your tetanus, typhoid and polio shots are up-to-date, and getting a hepatitis A vaccination. He added that travelers to remote areas, especially during the summer monsoon season, should consider prophylactic malarial medication.
Since Myanmar’s economy is still cash based, plan to pack enough crisp, new dollars (accepted almost everywhere) for expenses, or settle lodging and flights in advance through a travel agent.

Getting there

Although Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, is served from most major Asian hubs, the shortest and most convenient connections are from Bangkok. Depending on the seasons, up to eight flights a day- including service by Air Asia, a regional low-cost carrier- makes the 90 minute trip. Well maintained regional jets link major cities with in the country.


Accommodations generally provide excellent value (especially compared with neighboring Thailand) and range from smallish luxury properties in Yangon to friendly family run hotels and tropical boutique resorts in other key areas. Thanks to the British colonial legacy, English is widely spoken in the Major tourist areas.


Karen MacRae, a senior destination expert at Kensington Tours, said Mynmar is safe for families and described it as “a whole country fill of gentle people”. However, rebel groups continue to be active in northern regions of the country, so tourists should stick to the south and central areas. But crime statistics are low- the State Department Web site specifically Ms. MacRae, who lived in Myanmar for tow years, recommended lighter dishes like laphet, a picked tea-leaf salad, and mohinga, a fish broth- based noodle soup “asking to Vietnamese pho” and best eaten she said, at a Yangon street stall.

Where to go

The classic Myanmar itinery begins in Yangon, where visitors will want to spend at least a day visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda- a towering stupa covered in pure gold- wandering among the colonial-era buildings downtown and bargaining for local crafts at the covered Scott Market.
Bagan, a dusty region 200 miles north of Yangon along the Irrawaddy River, is studded with thousands of bell shaped stupas, brick temples and castle like stricture that date from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries.
Bagan can be reached form Yangon by air or via comfortable cruise boats that ply the Irrawaddy River to and from Monday, in the central area of the country.
Both Lake Inle, in ethnically diverse Shan State, and Ngapali Beach, along the country’s western Bay of Bengal shoreline, are good places for low key R&R, with new resorts opening regularly. Emerging destinations include the pristine Mergui Archipelago in the southeast, great for snorkeling and Mrauk-U, a 15th century royal capital in the southwestern state of Rakhine.

Courtesy:- Times Of IndiaImage


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