Monday, January 17, 2011

'Wildlife friends' help Asiatic lions conservation in Gir.

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat forest department's initiative of involving local population by appointing 'vanprani mitra' (wildlife friends) in the last abode of Asiatic lions -- Gir Sanctuary -- has paid off as they have become an important factor in conservation of this endangered species.
There are many instances where 'wildlife friends' have given crucial information to forest authorities about illegal activities going on in and around the protected sanctuary areas.
"We felt that it was of utmost importance to involve local communities in wildlife conservation efforts to save the last population of Asiatic lions in Gir," Chief conservator of forest of Gir region R L Meena said.
This need was strongly felt after the 2007 incident when eight lions in the Gir became victim of poaching by tribal gang belonging to Katni area of Madhya Pradesh, he added.
"It has paid results as a lot of information regarding what is going on in and around the sanctuary comes from them. Three major arrests could be made due to information provided by wildlife friends recently," Meena said adding this unique concept has opened a new chapter in wildlife conservation activity in the country.
More than 20 tribal people were arrested on December 13 from the outskirts of Gir forest for selling fake lion parts, based on the information given by a wildlife friend, Meena said.


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