Lions in the City

Asiatic Lions in and around Gir National Park seem to be happy in visiting the surrounding cities. So far it used to be one visit a week by a couple of Lions, but last week a big pride visited the city of Junagadh in the night. Their peaceful march through the city was recorded in the cctv on a street.

It is said that Gir has reached it’s sustainable capacity of Lion population. The apex court has ordered shifting of some Lions to a new sanctuary in the state of Madhya Pradesh, but the state of Gujrat does not seem to be happy about sharing the pride of their state. While considerable amount of money has been spent in making a home for Lions at Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, but Gujrat government has been averse to the idea on grounds like the state of MP is unable to take care of it’s Tigers so how will they take care of it’s Lions.

In an interesting development it is now noticed that Kuno Palpur which was awaiting Lions for last 5 years has now been taken over by Tigers who have migrated out of Ranthambhore National Park in search of territory. It is said that the population of Tigers in Ranthambhore is also over it’s capacity so it is but natural for the new sub adults to move out of the park in search of their own territory. Karauli sanctuary which is about 60kms from Ranthambhore has also reported sighting of 4 male Tigers which have moved out of Ranthambhore.

So it seems that the big cats are doing well lately in India. Credit surely must go to the Forest department, and i would say a percentage of credit will also go to increased domestic tourism in these parks, and awareness on the social media.



Unsung Lion Queens of Gir National Park

Talk about #Gir Forest – you would answer #AsiaticLions home as it is most protected areas in the world.

The journey of conversation started in the year 1900 when only 12 of the beasts were left. Today, thanks to some amazing efforts by the Government and forest authorities – there are 523 of them. Much of the credit also goes to Gir forests Guards and its animal rescue team – All women team.

Housed in the state of Gujrat it has dry deciduous trees and was declared #wildlife sanctuary in 1965. Ten years later it was declared sacrosanct – #National Park. The park also has #leopards, #deers, #langurs, #snakes, hyenas, jungle cats and crocodiles.

The base was created for all women team in 2007. Forest department created 33% quota for women. The authorities never thought they would get recruits like Raseela Wadher who shunned the desk job and joined frontlines for wildlife rescues. Every year more and more women undergo intensive training before joining and perhaps only women’s brigade in the world which manages the habitat and big cats.

The brigade is rightly called Lion Queens have rescued – 627 lions over the years. Not sure if this feat has been achieved elsewhere in the world.

None of the women team rescues as many as 600 animals annually – which boils down to 2 rescues per day. Their job description includes – arresting poachers, dealing with irate villagers, retrieving stuck pythons and tranquilizing rogue monkeys playing havoc in nearby villages. Their favorite part still is attending and nursing the vulnerable little cubs and other baby animals till they are old enough to survive on their own.

Every Lion Queen comes from non-privileged background – perhaps not supported by their families to work as forest guards. They had to deal with Male dominancy in this field and inherent dangers of the job.

Raseela has found herself in dangers many times to elaborate the above point. Her Experience was dreadful when she had lead the team to rescue the injured lion. They tried to tranquilize the beast to rescue him. They misfired the shot and Lion attacked them – they kept their cool like cats and boarded the vehicle and Lion retreated in the jungle.

Kiran Pithiya has got special task of studying the movement and changes in lions behavior. Kiran is responsible for saving 19 lions. She has worked through her pregnancy and keeps a watch on lions on her bike in the forest. It was her third trimester when she was to keep the watch on newborn cubs and movement of her mother. She was doing the same readings on one fine day when it got really dark. As she left the area the lioness got provoked and started chasing Kiran. Kiran realized the danger and instead of increasing the speed turned around and started shooing away the lioness. The Lioness perhaps understood the signal of forest protector and turned back. Had she tried speeding her life could have been in danger.

True to their given name – these girls are solely attached to their core aim of preserving the population of Asiatic lions on the planet. Looking after all animals and their young ones which call Gir their home. By employing them for these posts, the forest department has not given empowerment to rural women of Gir but also ensured a more compassionate environment for the animals.