Susan Welcome to IWC chat on Asiatic Lion!
nature8 so whts todays topic, I'm Sarit.
Susan The expert online is Dr Ravi Chellam who will join us soon. Welcome Sarit
Sharad Hi I am sharad
ravic I am online hope to discuss issues related to the ecology and conservation of Asiatic lions.
Susan Dr Chellam is currently with UNDP. Previously he was with WII, DehraDun
Susan Welcom Dr. Chellam!
ravic Hi Susan, Sharad and Sarit.
Sharad Lets start with where they are found in India
ravic Gir forest Saurashtra, Gujarat. This is the only free ranging population of Asiatic lions in the world.
ravic Current population estimate is more than 320 lions, adults and young.
Sharad Has it increased in last 5 years or reduced
Susan Is that no. considered genetically viable?
shyamsundar hi this is shyam
ravic The lions in Gir had a close brush with extinction a little more than 100 years ago.
shyamsundar so wht what shall we start with
ravic The lowest reported population is about 12.
Susan Welcome Shyam
ravic The population has been increasing in general but I do not pay too much attention to the exact numbers. It is more important to look at the trend of the population,
which has been increasing.
shyamsundar In 1910 there were reported to be fewer than two dozen lions left in the wild although this low figure may have been publicised to discourage lion hunting - census data from the time indicates the population was probably
closer to 100.
Sharad that is right
shyamsundar Before they were completely wiped out, the lions came under the protection of the Nawab of Junagadh. He banned hunting.
ravic In fact today the managment in Gujarat has to learn to manage the success of conservation. Sharad and Shyam it is important to take into account that counting
lions or tigers or wildlife in general is not an easy task.
shyamsundar yeah u r right
ravic Since the 1970s all population estimates have indicated a constantly increasing lion population.
Sharad I agree.
shyamsundar so ravi wht do u say should be actually done to go for better estimates
Sharad What is the typical survival age ?
shyamsundar hey friends here i have something abt how census started
ravic Use of acceptable scientific methods, constant monitoring, a transparent process of data collection and analysis.
shyamsundar The first census of lions in the Gir was conducted in 1936 and yielded a result of 234 animals, based on identification of individual paw prints (pug
Sarit hello sorry i gotd/c
shyamsundar other recent techniques are live bait and waterhole counts Radio-telemetry studies
Sarit good evenin' Dr. Ravi
ravic Good evening Sarit.
ravic Reverting to Susan's question on genetic viability..
Sarit Dr. Ravi let me tell you i had seen one of your programme in NGC and i know u have worked a lot on lions
ravic The lions in Gir have gone through a genetic bottleneck when their numbers went down to less than 50 adults.
shyamsundar genetic viability?
Sarit i was fortunate to be apart of Tiger Census 2004 in Orissa and i realized how tough it is?
shyamsundar oh that must be really a wonderful experience Sarit
Sarit Acha Dr.Ravi what about the transfering of Lions to Kuno in Mp how far is it viable
ravic In my experience with lions since 1986, I have seen no evidence of any ill effects of the genetic bottleneck on the lions.
shyamsundar Sarit for ur question the state government has sought the Centre’s permission to set up a new lion sanctuary at Mithiyala in Amreli district to provide
more protection to the Asiatic lions.
Sarit So in your opinion what wud b the best method to revive the nos of lions in India
ravic There is some evidence from the study of captive asiatic lions (which are far more inbred) that they have a greater percentage of deformed sperms.
ravic The Mithiyala sanctuary has been established but it cannot substitute the need for a second free ranging population of lions. This is because the area is very
small and it is also located very close to Gir.
Sarit Well is it possible to crossbred the Asiatic lions with their African cousins?
shyamsundar Ravi wht do u want to say about the poaching and death of Seventy lions including 20 cubs in Gir
Sharad has the physical dymentions/ looks changed due to deformed sperms
Sarit Dr. Rai i had read about Kuno how far is it true?
ravic It is very much possible to cross breed African and Asiatic lions but highly undesirable to do so.
shyamsundar Ravi wht abt the water scarcity forests of Gir national park
ravic There is absolutely no anatomical or morphological evidence of inbreeding.
Sarit well may b tht crossbreeing will result in loosing the original lines
shyamsundar Ravi why is it undesirable to cross breed African and Asiatic is there any problem
ravic One thing all of us should remember is that all lions, why only lions all creatures including us are born to die.
ravic What is important is the circumstances of death and the life stage of mortality.
ravic By cross breeding we are playing GOD.
ravic Deliberate mixing of gene pools of wildlife is not an acceptable way of managing them.
shyamsundar yes definitely Mr Ravi however wht we should do i think is to provide for a better environment and habitat for them
Sarit But then Dr. Ravi are we not doing that with domestic animals, crops
ravic Lions in captivity will live more than 25 years.
ravic That is the difference between domesticated life and wildlife.
shyamsundar but continuous inbreeding has many problems
Sarit but then if we can save a species from completely being wiped out don't u think its worth givin' a try
ravic In the wild male lions will with luck live up to the age of 15 and lionesses till about 18.
Sarit bcoz as u said they will otherwise die of inbreeding
ravic As I have said earlier there is absolutely no evidence that there are any ill effects of the inbreeding.
shyamsundar Paignton Zoo is celebrating the birth of two cubs - one male and one female - on 3rd October 2003
ravic Over time they seem to have recovered from the effects of the genetic bottleneck.
ravic What do you want to know about radio telemetry?
shyamsundar wht u have to say about this--There is illegal mining and poaching in the coastal districts to which some of the animals have migrated as the prey base
goes up in these parts
ravic Translocation is an effort to overcome the risks of a situation of all your eggs in one basket.
shyamsundar but then in Humans it is clearly told that we should avoid close relation marriages and that i have studied it is true for all animals as well
Sarit Well Dr. Ravi we will b gr8ful if u throw some light on radio telemetry
ravic The lions leaving the confines of the protected area is not due to the movement of the prey but due to the increasing lion population.
ravic Lion social organisation does not allow breeding of close relatives.
shyamsundar Radio-telemetry studies help us know the range in which the lions live that is their home range which is generally for male lions at 110 km², and females
at 50 km²
ravic Lions are territorial and with increase in numbers the area of the PA is insufficient to hold all the lions.
ravic In India as in all over the world, wildlife and nature conservation is a huge challenge.
shyamsundar we can also know the population density
ravic I conducted radio telemetry studies in Gir from 1987 to 1990. I collared 8 lions.
ravic I was able to establish the details of their home range size, habitat use patterns and social organisation.
ravic WII has been conducting follow up studies and we have had collared lions over the last 4 years or so.
shyamsundar oh that must be really a exciting job
Sarit so u collared 8 lions do tell more about it
ravic Currently there is a student who is conducting field work on the dispersal and survival of lions.
ravic Getting back to translocation.. It is like buying life insurance against extinction.
shyamsundar Mr.Ravi can i please get ur mail id
Sarit Sir will u please give your mail id as i want to know more about this field
ravic We did a survey of potential sites in 1993-95 and chose Kuno in western MP
Sarit i had been to the WII twice but 4 some reason i was not able 2 join the course
ravic firstname.lastname@example.org but please be patient with me.
Sarit yes i had read about your reasearch
Sarit ok sir we will thank you very much
shyamsundar oh definetely
ravic Since 1996 the MP forest dept has been managing Kuno to prepare it for the lions.
shyamsundar is it ur yahoo chat id too
ravic The problem has been the low numbers of wild prey.
ravic Yes it is my only Yahoo ID.
Sarit sir u mean to say lower nos. of prey base at Kuno
shyamsundar then how do they manage to get enough to eat in such situations
ravic Things have been moving slowly but in a recent meeting Govt of India has taken note of the need to move things quickly.
shyamsundar thank you sir
ravic Lack of prey has delayed the translocation of lions.
Sarit well there was even a try to transfer lions to Chandraprabha sanctuary in Varanasi
ravic Yes low prey numbers in Kuno.
ravic In the 1950s and 1960s the Chandraprabha effort failed due to lack of planning and monitoring.
shyamsundar Well how do they actually transfer the lions from one place to other
Sarit so is there any plans to improve the prey base
ravic The effort succeeded to the limited extent that the lions survived for a few years and also bred and increased their numbers.
shyamsundar will there not arise any problem
ravic Dart and transquilise the lions and then quickly transport them either by road or helicopter.
ravic To improve prey base we need total protection from cattle grazing and poaching
ravic An additional way is to kick start the revival by releasing more prey animals captured from other forest or from zoos.
shyamsundar like will there be no problem when they are left in a new place because lions mark their territory so sudden change in the place they live ---will it
not cause any disturbance
ravic Getting back to the question of water scarcity..
ravic Gir is a dry forest in the semi arid zone
Sarit but then sir i had been to a very few sanctuaries and i find this cattle grazing to be the biggest problem
ravic Plants and animals are naturally adapted to dry and low water situations.
ravic Lions in Africa live in Kalahari desert and extend into the rainforest of western and central Africa.
shyamsundar ok Mr.Ravi but then if we can take up both the revival of the greenery and simultaneously release new prey animals i think would be the best combination
ravic So they are very adaptable as a species.
ravic There is no need to revive the greenery in Kuno, the forest cover is good.
shyamsundar ok then the Asiatic is not that adaptive?
ravic Getting back to translocation..
Sarit yes sir plese throw some light on translocation
ravic The distribution of the Asiatic lions extended from Syria all the way to eastern India.
ravic They are also capable of adaptation but humans should first allow them to survive.
Sarit now i guess Asiatic lions are only found in India
ravic On their arrival in Kuno the lions will first be released into a large enclosure and they will be there for 6 to 8 weeks.
shyamsundar Sarit i dont think so
ravic This will enable them to adapt to the local conditions and also develop a mental geography of the place.
ravic Yes only in and around Gir.
shyamsundar now it is more clear sir
ravic They should not be kept in captivity for longer as they will then begin to lose their natural instincts.
Sarit so when will te lions be finally translocated to Kuno
ravic Difficult to say. It depends on how fast the local conditions in Kuno are ready to host the lions.
shyamsundar that is really interesting so we have to take a lot of care in this process
ravic Then there is of course the issue of the people and govt of Gujarat being willing to part with some lions.
Sarit But then as a scientist u can give a probable time
Sarit lets a in next five yrs or before that
ravic I can give a time but it will have no meaning. Ideally this should be done within the next 5 years.
ravic Are Sharad, Susan and Nature8 still online? Why no comments?
Sarit well nature8 is myself
Susan Yes, I am following the discussions and learning a lot
Sarit but then Sharad and susan shud respond
ravic Any more queries?
shyamsundar sir did u have any special experience while working with lions that u will remember always
Sarit well there are many and we are really fortunate to have a platform to talk to u
Sarit yes if you have any such which you wud like to share
ravic Plenty of memorable experiences. Gir is a very special place and the lions are incredible animals.
ravic In fact each time I go to Gir there are great experiences, too many to be able to write in this format.
Sarit Sir as we have your mail id we will ask our queries and hope u'll answer
shyamsundar one incident that u think was really the best
ravic It was among my early field days and around December I got information that a big sambar had been killed and there were two females and cubs and since the sambar
was a large one I thought I could continue observations for two or three days. The first night was okay but at the end of the second night at around two o clock I had fallen asleep in my sleeping bag with my back to a Jamun tree. And on the opposite sloping
bank the lions were feeding. Next thing I know is that I have woken up at four for thirty with something heavy on my feet and there was a lion cub sitting heavily on my toes. I tried wriggled my toes in an attempt and trying to make it get off without irritating
it. Luckily that worked. I have a picture taken with a flash of the cub using a normal lens! This is not to in any way convey that lions are docile creatures. They are wild animals and this is something that always needs to be kept in mind.
shyamsundar oh that is really .......i dont have words to say.....U R LUCKY to have such experiences
Susan Ravi, it has been a great session!
shyamsundar thank you sir for all that u have shared with us
ravic As I said special place and very special animals.
Sarit wow sir its an excellent story that you shared with us
ravic Thank you all and do I log off now?
Sarit sir we hope that you will keep in touch and respond our mails
Susan Thank you all of you . Yes we can log off now.