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Jun 27, 2007

The Japan Times Online Articles  

Lions and Tigers and the Foibles of Men


Special to The Japan Times

MADRAS, India — The Chinese now appear to be turning to Indian lions since a terrifying number of tigers have been killed for their body parts, which are sold to make medicines and even aphrodisiacs.  In India's Gir Forest, the last of some 350 Asiatic lions survive. These are a subspecies that once roamed from Greece to eastern India.
We are told that the lions in Daniel's Biblical den were of this kind, smaller than their African brothers. Curiously, these Indian Asiatic lions live alongside 20,000 descendants of African slaves once shipped into the country.
Although wanton shikar (hunting for sport) by British officers and Indian maharajahs around 1900 depleted the lion population to no more than 24, post-independence conservation efforts by Indian administrations resulted in a phenomenal comeback.
However, in the past four months, eight lions in the Gir Forest of northwestern India have been killed by poachers, who have now turned their attention to these animals after having decimated tigers at an alarming level. Since the medicinal qualities of lion parts are not as readily accepted by consumers as those of tiger parts, lion bones and organs are being passed off as tiger parts!
Although the government of Gujarat, where Gir is located, has swung into action trying to save the lion, animal lovers and experts worry that steps will be as futile as those taken to protect the tiger whose numbers are now estimated at 1,800 — half the world's tiger population. These majestic cats have been butchered in India's forests and tiger reserves to feed a largely Chinese demand for bones and penises, which are used literally to fool a gullible set of men.
In India — where corrupt government officials have also hoodwinked the media as well as men by conjuring tigers out of thin air with the highly unreliable pug-mark method to count the animals — the fate of lions will be as hopeless unless the top echelons of political power make up their minds to fight poachers.
Poachers are backed by powerful lawyers who ensure that the guilty are seldom punished. Just compare the number of tigers killed in the past decade (one a day for many years, according to one reliable estimate) with the number of arrests and convictions. The gap is appalling.
Wildlife experts in India agree that "our protection system is in tatters. Thousands of forest guard posts remain vacant in all states, leaving our treasure troves of biodiversity open round the clock to looters." Most guards are old and the officers who lead them have little idea of how to tackle poaching.
By contrast, poachers are in the big leagues with the latest weapons, night glasses, sophisticated cars, state-of-the art mobile phones and a battery of top lawyers to defend them.  Caught in this pathetic mismatch is the lion whose numbers are so small that the animal could vanish from Gir in a matter of weeks. And unlike the tiger — which can start breeding at the age of 3 and produce several litters of three or four cubs in a lifetime — the lion is not a prolific breeder. That makes its survival even more precarious.  Obviously, urgent measures must be taken to save the tiger and the lion. Among the first should be to revamp the entire system of forest protection by filling vacant guard positions and hiring professionals dedicated to animal welfare. Greater funds must be allocated for this.
We must not forget that the tiger and the lion are part of India's great wildlife heritage. If we allow them to become extinct, it may well spell doom for not only a healthy ecological balance but also for water and food.
B. Gautam writes for a leading Indian newspaper. 
The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 26, 2007
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Posted: Jun 27, 2007 10:15am
Nov 22, 2006

Attention Big Cat Lovers and Friends!  You will not believe this story posted on CNN's webpage.  The link is listed below.  It is copywritten material, so I couldn't post it on my page.

It sickens me to know how many creatures suffer at the hand of mankind (kind?) for a profit of any size.  Money is at the root of all evil.  

Something that's upset me this week is that it's just began to get cold in Florida - not cold like the northern part of the country, obviously, but cold enough to need a coat.  I can't get over how many fur-trimmed coats I've already seen and it's not even a truly cold state.  It's just insane.  One lady I saw today was in Petsmart (pet supply store) buying for her dog in a fully fur-lined and fur-trimmed coat.  It was upsetting and I couldn't help but wonder what animal -more and likely, animals- suffered for that garment.  I couldn't distinguish what type fur it was.  She probably has no idea what she is truly supporting by buying and owning that coat.  WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WAKE THEM UP?

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Posted: Nov 22, 2006 7:57pm
Nov 22, 2006

A Story of Interest
Lions Rescue Kidnapped Girl in Ethiopia

Lions Rescue, Guard Beaten Ethiopian Girl By ANTHONY MITCHELL, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 21,2005 1:13 PM ET

A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently had chased off her captors, a policeman said Tuesday.

The girl, missing for a week, had been taken by seven men who wanted to force her to marry one of them, said Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo, speaking by telephone from the provincial capital of Bita Genet, about 350 miles southwest of Addis Ababa.

She was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, Wondimu said. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, he said.

"They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest," Wondimu said.

"If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage," he said.

Tilahun Kassa, a local government official who corroborated Wondimu's version of the events, said one of the men had wanted to marry the girl against her wishes.

"Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people," Wondimu said.

Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said the girl may have survived because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.

"A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn't eat her," Williams said.

Ethiopia's lions, famous for their large black manes, are the country's national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency. Despite a recent crackdown, Hunters also kill the animals for their skins, which can fetch $1,000. Williams estimates that only 1,000 Ethiopian lions remain in the wild.

The girl, the youngest of four siblings, was "shocked and terrified" after her abduction and had to be treated for the cuts from her beatings, Wondimu said.

He said police had caught four of the abductors and three were still at large.

Kidnapping young girls has long been part of the marriage custom in Ethiopia. The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where most of the country's 71 million people live.

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Posted: Nov 22, 2006 7:43pm
Oct 29, 2006
Name: Enshala
Type: Memorial (for the deceased)
To Honor: Individual(s)
Location: Tampa, Florida United States
This is the link to read about her tragic death at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Fl.

I am glad I was able to visit the zoo earlier in the year.  She was truly a beautiful cat!  She will be missed by many!

A link to Photo Gallery of Enshala:

This link will take you to more on the zookeeper who left the gate open.

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Posted: Oct 29, 2006 2:21pm


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Karen P.
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