Thursday, March 29, 2012
IUCN cautions state against poaching of lions.
AHMEDABAD: While shifting the Asiatic lions from critically endangered species category to endangered species in its Red List, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the same time has also cautioned the forest department against poaching threats to the species.
The IUCN Red List report stated that the subpopulation of lions is increasing and is considered stable now in Gujarat. The number of lions is also reported to be spreading beyond the boundaries of the protected sanctuary of Gir to satellite townships.
Taking note of the 2007 incidents of poaching, the report further added that constant monitoring is required to ensure that poaching levels do not increase. At least eight lions were poached in 2007. However, the IUCN red list has in its report stated that 34 animals were reported killed in 2007. A senior officer said that this was a very high figure as only eight lions were poached.
However, experts say that this was a major achievement for the conservation efforts of the state government. Ravi Chellam, an expert on Lions, says, "The species is dispersing outside the protected area, and the population is increasing. This was adequate to list the lion as endangered species from critically endangered.
Y V Jhala, head of the department Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, said "The management's efforts towards the conservation of the species are planned with the intention to reduce the threat perception towards it. For the Asiatic lions, the success of conservation has not only led to increase in population of lions but has also increased the dispersal range of the animal. It is indeed a feather in the cap for the state that even the IUCN has also recognized its conservation efforts." He said that the next target of the state government should be to have the animal listed as a threatened species.
Additional principal chief conservator of forest Dr H S Singh says, "The lion as a whole is listed in vulnerable category. But it is good news for the state as the Asiatic lion was listed as endangered species." He said that not just the population was increasing, but the lions have formed six other satellite areas where the population is now stable. These include far off areas of the coastal region, Bhavnagar, Girnar and Miytala, among others."