In the last two years as many as 184 Asiatic lions died in and around Gir Sanctuary situated in the Saurashtra region that include 30 unnatural deaths, said the State Government in the House on Monday during the first Budget session of the 14th Gujarat legislative Assembly.
Replying to a query of Congress MlA Gyasuddin Sheikh, the State Government confirmed that 94 Asiatic lions died in 2016 and in 2017, as many as 90 big cats died. Deaths of 12 and 18 lions respectively occurred due to unnatural reasons in the year 2016 and 2017.
“In order to prevent unnatural deaths of the big cats the State Government constructed parapet walls on open wells situated in the revenue areas in the periphery of Gir Sanctuary. Besides that fencing has been erected on both the sides of Surendranagar -Pipavav railway line passing from near the Sanctuary,” said the state government in a written answer.
Meanwhile in a step forward to translocation of some Asiatic lions from their only abode in the world – Gir Forest in Saurashtra region of Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur forest in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, the Gujarat Forest department formed a nine member sub-committee headed by the state Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF).
The apex court directed to form a 12-member committee for the smooth translocation of Asiatic lions in Madhya Pradesh following Gujarat’s concerns over the issue. Now this committee will have two sub-committees – one each in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to compete hassle free translocation procedure.
According to a senior official in the state forest department the Gujarat sub-committee has on board the PCCF (wildlife), additional PCCF (wildlife), conservator of forest Junagadh (wildlife), deputy conservator of forest (headquarters) and the director of Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation as members.
Scientifically known Panthera leo persica, the Asiatic lion found only in and around Gir forest situated in Saurashtra region. Also known as Indian lion or Persian lion is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list because of its small population size. In the last census conducted in the year 2015 in its strolling areas of over 20,000 sq km in Saurashtra region, there were 523 lions including 109 adult males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs.