English language news articles from year 2007 plus find out everything about Asiatic Lion and Gir Forest. Latest News, Useful Articles, Links, Photos, Video Clips and Gujarati News of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary (Geer / Gir Forest - Home of Critically Endangered Species Asiatic Lion; Gir Lion; Panthera Leo Persica ; Indian Lion (Local Name 'SAVAJ' / 'SINH' / 'VANRAJ') located in South-Western Gujarat, State of INDIA), Big Cats, Wildlife, Conservation and Environment.
Conservation biologist Dr. Ravi Chellam talks about his experiences
at Gir and the proposed translocation of some lions to Kuno Sanctuary in
‘Has a lion ever tried to attack you?’ questions a
curious little boy. “About two dozen times,” answers Dr. Ravi Chellam,
lion expert, while addressing a meeting of the Voices of the Wild (VOW).
“If a lion wags its tail, it should be taken as a warning. They also
give a low growl sometimes.” The world’s last population of Asiatic
lions in Gir, Gujarat, are close to Ravi’s heart and his subject of
study for the last 30 years. But Gir is no more their only refuge, he
says, as over 100 of them have spilled over and found homes in the
patches of forests surrounding the sanctuary.
is an authority on the behavioural patterns, lifestyle and habitat of
the Asiatic lions. He has radio-collared, monitored and studied them in
close proximity. “Lions are the only social cats. They live in small or
medium prides, typically headed by a large female lion,” explains Ravi.
“The males are loners or sometimes form two-member coalitions and patrol
their territory regularly. Fierce fights and grave injuries are
common,” he says showing photographs.
Though Gir is
rich and self-sustained, Ravi suggests translocation of some lions to
avoid over-concentration in a single place. Gir at present is home to
400 lions. After legal tangles spanning 20 years, the translocation
project was finally cleared by the Supreme Court last August.
cautions against a possible outbreak of canine distemper and an
increased probability of man-animal conflict if action is not taken
soon. “The current situation at Gir is like having too many eggs in a
single basket. If the basket breaks, we will lose everything,” he says.
“There are roads, rail-lines and buses that pass through Gir and the
lions move in and out constantly and are in contact with humans more
Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya
Pradesh has been identified as the most viable place for introducing
lions. Though Kuno acts as the buffer zone for the Tigers of
Ranthambore, Ravi believes it would hardly affect the lions. “Tigers and
lions have co-existed before. Translocation is like a life-insurance we
buy for the lions of Gir, so that in case of calamities we will still
have a separate population of lions unaffected,” he asserts. Kuno has
many features similar to Gir – like burgeoning prey population of
chital, sambar and wild buffaloes, a deciduous landscape of grasslands
expanding over 1,500 sq.kms and ample water resource from the Chambal
According to studies carried out by Ravi and
other researchers, the dietary composition of the Gir lions has changed
phenomenally over the years. “In the 70’s, it was found that over 75 per
cent of the lions’ diet comprised livestock. Whereas, in 1993, a study
revealed that wild prey formed more than 70 percent of the food the
lions ate,” observes Ravi. He says removing livestock from Gir is not a
good idea, as cows and buffaloes still form over 30 per cent of the
“The native tribal people have always
had a better understanding of wildlife than people like us,” says Ravi.
“Most instances of man-animal conflict involve outsiders and not the
tribals. In India, it is difficult to cut off human interaction with the
In the case of Gir, the Maldhari tribals who
are primarily cattle-herders live in harmony with the lions. Their
livestock is a prey base for the beast. “Moving them out will not help
the lions much. Instead, unnecessary intrusion from outside should be
kept under check.”