Monday, October 31, 2016

Gir lions to add volume to Neyyar pride

Lions at Gir wildlife sanctuary

By Express News Service  |   Published: 05th October 2016 10:16 PM  |  
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The lion safari park at Neyyar wildlife sanctuary in the district is set to reverberate with the roar of more lions. The Forest and Wildlife Department launched an all-out effort to get two more lions from Gujarat, the home of the Asiatic lion. The government has kicked off a process to get a pair of lions from Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden (also, Junagadh Zoo), Forest Minister K Raju told the Assembly in reply to a question. This will take the number of lions at the park to five. The Sakkarbaug zoo supplies pure breed lions for captive breeding programmes to conserve the endangered species. Forest and Wildlife officials said that the plan was to get a male and a female lion from Gujarat to boost the tiny lion population in Neyyar park. At present, the park has three lions, one male and two females. “The plan to get the lions had been hanging fire for some time. But now it has been revived,” an official said.

In the red list
The ones found in zoos aside, Asiatic lion, a sub-species (Panthera leo persica) is now confined to Gujarat. The IUCN red list names the sub-species, which is smaller in size than the thick-maned African lion, as ‘endangered.’ The 14th Asiatic Lion Census conducted last year revealed the presence of 523 individuals, including 201 females.
With an eye on increasing tourist foot-fall, the state government is planning to renovate and develop basic infrastructure at the the lion safari park, deer park and crocodile farm in Neyyar, the Forest Minister said. It is as part of this programme that the canteen in the park has been renovated, he said. The Neyyar Wild Life Sanctuary covers 128 sq km and has considerable ecological significance. The sanctuary is situated close to Kallakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.

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