Community participation helps increasing Asiatic lion numbers in Gir forest: Official


PTI, Jun 11, 2020, 9:10 AM IST

Ahmedabad: Participation in the local community has helped in increasing the Asiatic lion population in Gujarat’s Gir forest, a senior environment ministry official said on Wednesday. The remarks come after a report released by the state revealed an increase of 29 percent in the population of the majestic animal.

Soumitra Dasgupta, Inspector General, Wildlife, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, said a land project initiated in 2018, which is in the midst of implementation, will further help in the conservation and protection of Asiatic lions in the state.

“The species is doing excellent and the number is going up. Participation of the local population has helped, habitat has improved,” he said.

“One land project has also been initiated in 2018 at the behest of the prime minister. We are in the midst of implementation. The project is to give the lions a proper habitat and improve veterinarian facilities to tackle diseases and livelihood to the local population who live around the sanctuary,” Dasgupta said.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Two very good news: Population of the majestic Asiatic Lion, living in Gujarat’s Gir Forest, is up by almost 29%. Geographically, the distribution area is up by 36%. Kudos to the people of Gujarat and all those whose efforts have led to this excellent feat.”

As per the figures released by the state, the number of Asiatic lions in the Gir forest region has increased to 674 in 2020 from 523 in 2015.

“In the report, the state chief wildlife warden said the Gujarat forest department carried out a “population estimation exercise” on the night of June 5 and 6 when there was the full moon. The exercise was undertaken as the five-yearly census could not be carried out in May due to the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown,” it said.

As per the May 2015 census, there were 523 Asiatic lions in Gir, an increase of 27 percent from 2010.

“The ‘Poonam Avlokan’ (full-moon night estimation exercise) showed that lions’ population had reached 674, a 28.87 percent increase,” an official release said, adding it was the highest growth recorded so far. The population of 674 comprised 161 males, 260 females, 116 sub-adult lions, and 137 cubs,” it said.

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