Monday, December 9, 2013
Gir named best protected area.
AHMEDABAD: Gir Sanctuary has been recognized and awarded the best protected area by a Mumbai-based wildlife magazine. The awards were instituted in 2000, to recognize and draw national attention to the contribution of individuals working for the protection of wildlife and natural habitats in India.
This year, among various categories, Gir sanctuary was awarded for the best protected sanctuary. Chief conservator of forests R L Meena received the award on behalf of Gujarat. C N Pandey, the principal chief conservator of forests said: "The award was a recognition of the conservation efforts of the state and especially the people of Saurashtra who have protected lions as their family. It was because of this conservation that the population of lions increased to 411 according to the 2010 census."
Officials said that talk of relocating Asiatic lions from Gir meet vehement protests from local maldharis. Despite the wild cats preying on nearly 6,000 domesticated animals in the forest, satellite areas and villages, locals consider the lions to be a part of their family. Gir forest was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1965 with the main area declared a national park. Gradually, more lion habitats in adjoining regions were also declared sanctuaries and ultimately Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary was created in 2007. Several ecological studies were also conducted to identify problems and prepare a conservation project. This was followed by implementation of the Gir Lion Sanctuary Project in 1973 to resettle maldharis.