Monday, March 30, 2015

129 Gir lions died in past two years.

AHMEDABAD: The number of lions that died in the Gir sanctuary and outside the reserved forest area has increased in the past two years. Officials, however, say that this is to be expected as the total number of lions in Gir and surrounding areas had also increased sharply in the recent past.

In the year 2012, only 45 lions had died but the very next year, this increased to 65. In 2014, the number of lion deaths was 64. The total number of lions that had died in the past two years stands at 129.

A senior official of the forest department said that the rise in deaths is directly related to the increase in population. Around 10-15% of the total number of Asiatic lions has always been recorded in Gujarat. Hence, when the total number of the big cats was around 411, around 42-45 lion deaths were recorded. Now with the increase in population, the number of deaths has predictably increased, said the official.
In 2014, lion deaths due to unnatural causes were around 15% of the total deaths in the year. The officials said that in 2014 around 10 lions had died after falling in wells or were run over by speeding trains. There are around 500 lions, including cubs, in Gir. Hence the death of 64 big cats was nearly 15% of the total, said the officials.

Experts feel that around 15 to 20% of the total population of lions dying is normal. A study, "Demographic parameters of endangered Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) in Gir Forests, India," by Kausik Banerjee and Yadvendradev V. Jhala, reveals that adult lions had died primarily due to natural causes (54.5%). Deaths caused by man were also substantial (43.2%) and were likely additive to natural causes. The study was carried out between 2000 and 2010.

Experts feel that the death of cubs below the age of three comprised a major portion of total deaths. If 100 cubs are born, only 36 survived till the age of three, said officials. In the past five years, the number of lions that had died since the 2010 census was 258 lions.

Year No of Deaths 2010 42 2011 42 2012 45 2013 65 2014 64

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