Besides keeping tabs on lion's movement, the beat guard is also supposed to carry out spot investigation of cattle killings by the lions. Officials said that majority of these staffers are from the social forestry division and their main job is planting saplings and saving trees.
S C Pant, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), said, "The state has formed a five-member task force to look into the conservation aspect of the lions outside the sanctuary and based on the report of the task force, the department will take suitable action. However, the first thing that we are planning is to bring the entire lion habitat area in the jurisdiction of the wildlife division from the social forestry division. This will help the department to have more focused approach for conservation of wildlife. We are going to train villagers and van mitras in the villages and even the non-government organizations on how to conserve and track lions in their villages."
H S Singh, a member of the National Board for Wildlife, says, "With the growing density of lions in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath, there is a need for more manpower. For effective conservation, the government should take support of local villagers."
Officials from the forest department said that in Amreli, Gir-Somnath and part of Bhavnagar, there are only 123 sanctioned posts of beat guards and of these 45 are vacant. Two sanctioned posts of assistant conservator of forest are also vacant. According to the officials, one beat guard covers about 26 villages in Amreli.
Experts say that the 123 posts were sanctioned soon after the poaching incident of 2007. Since then, the lion density and lion territory outside the protected forest have increased but the sanctioned post has not increased. May 2010 census revealed that 411 lions were found in an area of 10,000 sq km but according to the latest census, 523 lions were found in an area of 22,000 sq km.