Friday, September 28, 2007

Saving Asiatic Lions: Open wells in Gir to be covered

Express news service
Posted online: Friday , September 28, 2007 at 12:00:00
Updated: Friday , September 28, 2007 at 01:23:42Print Email To Editor

Rajkot, September 27 In what could be an important step towards conservation of Asiatic Lions, the state forest department and NGO Wild Life Conservation Trust (Rajkot) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cover thousands of open wells located at the periphery of Gir Sanctuary. The wells often turn out to be watery graves for wild cats.
According to the forest department, around 8,778 open wells are located within the six-km periphery of the sanctuary. A total of 47 lions have fallen victim to open wells over the past six years. Of these, 24 cases proved fatal. A number of leopards, too, have died in a similar manner.

The total cost of building a parapet on a well has been estimated to be Rs 10,000.

According to the MoU, the forest department would provide a subsidy of Rs 4,000 for erecting parapets on wells. The remaining expense of Rs 6,000 will be borne by WLCT, said president Kishore Kotecha.

Deputy Forest Officer A Atara said very few wells in and around sanctuary areas have parapets. “As many as 24 lions have died after falling into wells over the past six years. Parapets on wells is one of the most urgently required steps to save lions.”

The WLTC aims to cover 101 wells in Kotda, Palia, Chanchi and Dalkhania villages in Paliya beat in Dhari range as part of its first phase of construction work. It began construction of parapets on September 22, and the work is expected to be over by November-end.

Kotecha said WLTC has worked out a new design for parapets wherein RCC plates would be used in place of sandstone. The new design has brought down the construction cost by 50 per cent, he added.

WLCT has also instituted annual awards with cash prize for outstanding work in the field of lion conservation in various categories, including contribution by beat guard, forest officials, schoolchildren, teacher and the best research on Gir Sanctuary or Asiatic Lions.


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