Monday, April 29, 2019
Watch: Jungle king’s roll-call soars at 700 in Gujarat
This estimation, which comes ahead of the five-yearly lion census in 2020, puts the lion numbers at the highest ever in the history of Gujarat. There are 523 lions in the state as per 2015 lion census.
Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Akshay Saxena said lion conservation is a success in Gujarat despite setbacks like the 2018 canine distemper virus outbreak which wiped off 29 lions.
Fingers crossed over the healthy population, Saxena said, “The count of 700 lions is just an observation ahead of the census and there could be duplication in sighting. The exact numbers would be revealed only after the official census is completed next year.”
The Gir sanctuary, spread over 1,412 sq km, is considered the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world. After the lion population dipped to an alarming 50 in 1920, it has steadily climbed and showed sustained growth from 1985, leaping to 523 in 2015. Currently, lions are spread over an area of 25,000 sq km across six districts in Saurashtra. Significantly, an estimated half of the lion population lives in unprotected areas, in close proximity with human settlements.
Forest dept to procure 150 satellite radio collars
Considering the wide presence of lions and risks involved in their conservation, the forest department has decided to procure 150 satellite radio collars. Rajiv Gupta, additional chief secretary of forest and environment, said, “We are getting 150 radio collars to tag prides mainly in outside sanctuary areas to keep tabs on their movement and safety."
The Gujarat government has in the past given ample signs of healthy growth in lion numbers. Chief minister Vijay Rupani in 2018 had said lion population has crossed 600 due to exceptional conservation efforts. In Delhi, minister of state for forest and tribal development Raman Patkar had revealed in a press conference that lion