Gujarat government today informed the state Legislative Assembly that 66 Asiatic lions from the Gir wildlife sanctuary and the surrounding areas died in the last one year, though not a single death occurred due to poaching.
During the question hour today, Congress MLA Punja Vansh sought details about the deaths of these felines in the state.
In his written reply, state Forest and Environment Minister Ganpat Vasava said a total of 66 Asiatic lions died in the past one year in Junagadh, Amreli and Gir Somnath districts.
Out of these, 55 lions died natural deaths, the minister said adding while three were run over by speeding trains in Amreli district, eight others died in various incidents, like falling into open well.
"Not a single lion was poached last year," Vasava claimed.
Out of the 66 dead, 21 were adult males, while 16 were lionesses and 29 cubs, he informed.
As per the 2011 census, there were total 411 lions in the Gir forest. "Out of these, around 114 lions are also found in the surrounding areas of Gir forest due to increase in their population," Vasava said in his reply.
The Forest Minister also listed some steps taken by government to stop unnatural deaths of lions, like construction of fence along the of railway tracks where these lions are usually spotted; constructing underpasses beneath these tracks to facilitate the felines to go across; conducting training for loco-pilots and guards and putting signboards at such rail routes to avoid/ minimise accidents.
The Gir forest national park and wildlife sanctuary, also known as Sasan-Gir, is known as the "last abode" of Asiatic lions. The park is located in the north-east from Somnath, south-east of Junagadh and south west of Amreli.