Tuesday, 12 May 2015

NEWSLINK: Boost to Gujarat pride: Lion numbers cross 500

Gujarat's pride has become substantial as lion numbers in Gir have crossed the 500 mark to 523, registering a robust growth rate of 27%. The royal beasts have also expanded their territory by a good 109%.

Interestingly, the tiger count which was announced last year after the Narendra Modi government took over has also registered an increase of 30.

In 2010, the lion population in Gir stood at 411, while the area they covered was 10,500 sq km. Today, the spread of the big cats in Gir spans 22,000 sq km with the largest chunk of territory annexed by them being in Saurashtra. This, according to forest officials of Gujarat, is the largest lion kingdom in the history of the Asiatic lions in the state.

According to the data collated by the forest department, the lion territory in the 2005 census covered an area of 6,000 sq km. In 2010, it increased to 10,500 sq km.

On Sunday, Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel formally announced the latest lion population data. Patel hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of the region for this rapid, unhindered increase in the number of lions. While crediting the forest department officials for effective conservation efforts, she said: "The people of the region don't begrudge the lions' predation of their cattle. The PM is giving the lion its due and has also included the animal in the 'Make in India' logo."

As for the data, according to forest officials, in 2010 there were 97 males and 162 females; now, there are 109 males and 201 females. The rest 213 are cubs in the age group of less than one year, and sub-adults in the age group 1-3 years. The maximum number of lions, 267, was found in the Gir National Park and Sanctuary and adjoining areas.

Official said that in the 2010, lions strode into 960 villages; but in the 2015, the count increased to over 1,500 villages.

Forest officials further said that the male to female ratio, which was 1.67 females for every male, has increased to 1.85. The officials added that the jump in the lion population in the main Gir sanctuary area was 1.68% while in outside areas the big cat has registered a growth of 125%.

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