AHMEDABAD: The king of the jungle has doubled his kingdom in Gujarat over the past five years. From 10,500 sq km in the 2010 census, the big cats have widened their abode to 22,000 sq km in Saurashtra region as per preliminary reports of the lion census of 2015. The number of lions has reportedly crossed 480. Final data of the census will be released by CM Anandiben Patel on Sunday.
Interestingly, Gir Sanctuary and National Park, known as the last abode of the Asiatic lion occupies 1412 sq km. The rest 20,600 sq km is spread across eight districts of Saurashtra — one-third of the region.
Wildlife expert and member of National Board of Wildlife, H S Singh, said in the 2010 census too 114 out of 411 lions were found to be living outside Gir sanctuary which was not enough to contain the growing population.
"Gir sanctuary has a constant population since several years. The growing population of lions is moving out in search of new habitats especially in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts," said Singh.
The Asiatic lion is conquering new areas as Gir gets crowded. This is a natural growth aided by a friendly human population and excellent conservation efforts. The latest census will shortly prove this with statistics and, once again, raise a huge question mark over the ill-advised trans-location of the king of the jungle to a hostile habitat in MP.