Friday, September 30, 2016

15% decline in Ungulate population in Gir Sanctuary

| TNN |
AHMEDABAD: For the first time in past decade, the ungulate population in Gir Sanctuary has registered a decline of around 15%. This is the first time that the herbivorous count has gone down. The department after four months has once again decided to carry out the census of sambhar and other ungulate in Gir forest.

A senior official in the department said that the summer census which was conducted in May this year has revealed that the population of herbivorous had gone down below 65,000 from the earlier 75,000. This was the sharpest decline in the last decade.

A senior officer said that the count which was taken in May this year has not been enumerated till now nor had the report being sent to the department. Usually, the department takes two count one each in May and other count during the winter and the report is sent to the higher officers within a fortnight.

"The department had not been able to come to a conclusion as the count has gone down by nearly 15%," said a senior officer who was part of the count. The officer said that the count of sambar and that of spotted dear had registered a decline. However, another officer who was part of the count said "the decline is because the method of enumeration."
Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) JA Khan said "we are yet to receive the report as the final count has not been calculated and hence it would be too early to comment on the decline."

Chief conservator of forest Junagadh R L Meena says "this count is the internal count for the consumption of the department, the census is held every five years and the same was conducted in 2015. However, we are again conducting the census for a couple of species in the forest including Sambhar as there has been a sharp decline in their numbers."

However, experts feel that a decline in the ungulate within the sanctuary would result in more and more lions going out of the sanctuary and moving outside the forest area. The census 2015 has revealed that there were over 160 odd lions outside the protected sanctuary which at present are over 250. The officials said that around 40 odd lions from Gir sanctuary have moved out of the sanctuary due to monsoon and lack of prey base.

HS Singh, a lion expert said that "I feel that with the population of livestock increasing within the sanctuary, there cannot be an increase in the ungulate population. However, a decline in the population of ungulate can result in big cats going out of the sanctuary in search of food."

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