A senior forest department officer said the department plans to install around 250 cameras. The entire network is expected to be ready for use by October this year.
The cameras will be installed in every 4 sq km area of the sanctuary and in places where visibility is very poor. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Gujarat forest department, assisted by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), will use software to track the movement of not only the lions and other animals but also beat guards.
The ZSL will give £1 lakh (around Rs 1 crore) to the state government for setting up the new monitoring system. Funds for this will also come from the state government and the Centre, said an official.
The ZSL and the forest department had signed a memorandum of understanding for protecting the Asiatic lion and its habitat. In 2014, the ZSL had launched 'Lions400' campaign to raise funds for saving the Asiatic lion.
Y V Jhala, head of WII's animal ecology and conservation biology division, said that earlier a Gir lion was given as gift to the ZSL for its zoo. In return, the ZSL raised funds and decided to support the move to install GPS-aided camera traps in Gir.
Jhala said the advantage of these traps is that they can record accurate data and help the forest department keep watch on poaching and illegal activities, besides ensuring that forest beat guards visit their designated zones. These cameras will be camouflaged and will not disturb even birds. He said the battery in each camera will have to be replaced every 15 days.
Jhala said the new system will help beat guards record any illegal activity in real time and upload it to the server for officials to take necessary action immediately.