SASAN (JUNAGADH): Have Asiatic lions found their own homes within the home around the Gir forest?
State forest department officials said over the last two decades, lions have dispersed from the Gir forest, which was a core area of Asiatic lions, and have settled down in respective areas and made their permanent 'homes'.
The data analysis of direct and indirect evidence like sightings, prey and pugmarks show that lions' kingdoms spread over 1,050 villages in three districts of Saurashtra region, said Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests (wildlife division), Sasan-Gir.
"Lions have dispersed from core population of the Gir forest to other areas over the period of time in search of new habitat and resources. From 1997, lions began to stray in the eastern revenue areas of Amreli and Bhavnagar districts,"
"Acoording to the 2005 lion census, there were 68 lions (17 in Girnar, 12 in coastal forests, 8 in Mitiyala and 31 in eastern Savarkundla-Palitana landscape) outside Gir. The latest data analysis of lions' movements shows that there six satellite populations (those outside the Gir forest) of lions where the wild cats have permanently settled and made their homes," said Kumar.
Recently, the Supreme Court had ordered translocation Asiatic lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh. The state government has opposed the move and is likely to file a curative petition before the apex court.
Forest officials argued that there are no threats of any disease or epidemic as shown in favour of translocation for lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh because these lions have permanently and comfortably settled in these six different areas at a geographically distanced area from each other.
"Lions have already found their own homes within the home and there is no threat about their extinction. At present, lions occupy an area over 16,000 square kilometre in Saurashtra spread over in three districts-Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar,'' he added.