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.

Bird Migration affected due to development around Coastal India

Climate change and developmental activities lead the change in arrival pattern and habitat alteration of the migratory birds in the coastal wetlands of India.

Four prominent wetlands on the east coast of the country – from south moving upwards – Gulf of Mannar, Point Calimere, Pulicat and Chilika in Odisha.

The above were traditional hibernating sights for winters till decade back. But now their numbers are dwindling. All thanks to extensive degradation of wetland habitats.

Climate change is second reason affecting the flight. The winters in Odisha’s Chilika were really chilly which were ideal for the Arctic birds. It used to be their nesting ground and they were accustomed to the temperature before taking their flight back to Arctic. Today the numbers have declined for the birds such as greater flamingos, plovers and spoonbill sandpipers. Not only numbers but their arrival patterns have changed. Some arrive too early and some are coming later.

These wetlands in the past have successfully provided refuge to birds from different parts of the world. We got visitors from as far as North Central and West Asia, Europe and Mediterranean regions. It should be noted that not only these wetlands but the health of stopover cities is equally important. These stopover cities are used by the birds on the way to build the energy reserves before a long migratory journey. Some birds fly as far as 18000 kms in one year to undertake their migration successfully. If these sites are degraded the birds are devoid of food to refuel and they perish.

No doubt that these migratory water birds connect continents and countries. But for us they are excellent environment indicators at both global and local scales.

 

Film on Kanha Zoya wins Award

Bheema Tiger in Kanha
Tiger Safari in Kanha

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Film Zoya filmed in the forests of #Kanha National Park has won the student Emmy award. Best part was the Kanha forest itself which the crew experienced.

Group heard the alarm calls indicating the predator on the either side of crew – and #Indian Gaur pounding through the forest. There was silence for the next 10 minutes as the crew froze. With great difficulty the crew took the shot and fleed.

Zoya won third place in drama for 2016 college television award. Setthi beautifully dealt with the subject of wildlife and its conservation through the eyes of wildlife conservationist. it is an emotional trip to search for missing #tiger while trying to reconnect with his daughter.The wildlife background has been provided by biological anthropologist Jessica Lynch Alfaro. she acted as Sethhi’s mentor as he wrote the film’s script.

No doubt that idea of conservation is big concern globally which has stuck the right chord with the audiences and judges at the film festival.

“It’s extremely validating and encouraging to have one’s creative efforts recognized by the television academy foundation,” Sethhi said. “it’s a fairytale start to life after film school.”

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