Gir forest Asiatic lion brimming population needs translocation to Madhya Pradesh

Gir forest Asiatic lion brimming population needs translocation to Madhya Pradesh

AHMEDABAD,August4: In the forest near Liliya-Krakach, noisy little cubs are seen sauntering around a small pond. Some are playfully pouncing on their mother who sits relaxed but watchful. These scenes in Asiatic lion’s abode are not limited to Amreli district. Several forest areas outside the Gir National Park are brimming with lions, mostly in the age group of one to two years.

According to a recent internal lion count by the forest department in July this year, there are nearly 650-odd lions in the reserved forests and even outside the national park in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts.

“Gir and its periphery have recorded a count of nearly 650 lions. This is record high number of big cats in the state since 1936 as per the available records. There are around 180-odd cubs between one and two years of age,” said a top forest official.

The roaring rise of 125-odd lions in two years — the lion population was pegged at 523 in 2015 lion census — was revealed in the lion population counting exercise now undertaken every full moon day. The counting is done using 100-odd CCTVs and direct sighting method for effective monitoring of Big Cats. The monthly full moon counting is matched with the records of kills and daily reporting by beat guards, the official said.

Forest minister Ganpat Vasava said, “The steady rise in lion population is a good sign and indicative of robust conservative measures undertaken by the state.”

Yadvendradev Jhala, lion expert and member of the 12-member team formed for translocation of lions from Gujarat to MP as per an SC order, said, “The number is actually much higher than 650 projected by the state forest department. A systematic count should be initiated in the entire region for effective planning for lion management.”

Priyavrat Gadhvi, member of the state board for wildlife, said, “The expanding lion population is a sign of strengthening of the satellite population of big cats outside Gir National Park. It is a welcome sign indicating risk mitigation and robust growth of lions.”

In 2010 census, there were 411 lions. In fact, lions were categorized as ‘critically endangered’ in year 2000 after only 304 lions were recorded in Gujarat’s Gir in 1995 census.