“Lions moving toward east, in five years you may spot them in Ahmedabad”

Sasan Gir/Junagadh

In next five years, you may spot lions even in Ahmedabad(district), said Divisional Conservator of Forest (DCF) Sandeep Kumar today speaking at Sinh Sadan in Sasan Gir in presence of Gujarat Chief Minister.

“Contrary to myth that Asiatic lions are found only in Sasan village, the fact is that Asiatic Lions roam around 1500 villages in 8 districts. In last five years the area of presence of Asiatic lions has increased from 10,000 square km to 22,000 square km area,” he said.

He said, Lions were not seen in Girnar and Amreli earlier, but they stepped in, and in next five years they also entered into Bhavnagar district. On southern and western directions they can’t move further because there’s Arabian sea. Therefore their movement is towards eastern areas of Amreli and Bhavnagar.

He further said, “there are African lions and Asiatic lions. African lion population is down from 2 lakh to 30,000. Their area and population is down by 80%. In case of Asiatic lions, its population has been up from less than 50 to 411(in year 2010). This is global success. It’s a matter of pride that Asiatic Lions are found only in Gujarat. Contribution of government, local people and forest department staff has made this possible. After 1884 Asiatic Lions are found nowhere barring just this area.”

He said the Gir forest is full of biodiversity and the highest density of carnivore in entire world is in this landscape whether you say lions, crocodiles or leopards.

Sandeep Kumar said Asiatic Lion is a social animal. They consume food together in group(pride).

He said census is important process for conservation and management plans. If we come to know about locations of lions, we can mitigate conflict, we can work on rescue plans, we can create public awareness in related areas.

He said in last nine months, forest department took judgement of overall area of presence of lions and later divided the area into various zones to carry out census. He said there are photographs, specific characteristics of each lions, maps, GPS, observation etc, longitude, latitude noting involved in census process.

Duplication was not possible during the process of counting according to Sandeepkumar as Lions are spotted in pride(group) and not individually. Face marks, description of tail, canine(teeth) etc are other elements considered while counting.

Sandeep Kumar said, “there’s an impression that 2,500 persons participated in census process, but that is the figure of people who were into direct counting. More people were involved in background activities including logistics. Experts from Wild Life Institute of India, Wild Life Conservation Trust, State Board of Wild Life, Central Board of Wild Life, university students, engineers, doctors, teachers, Army persons participated in this exercise. They were assigned the task after training and capacity building. They were given kits.

He said, “the energy, the feeling witnessed among people was amazing. Some corporates offered drinking water bottles for free. There were requests received from thousands of people to take part in this process. Local people helped much. Maldharis, Vanya Prani Mitra etc contributed immensely. All data of census was processed in control room and analyzed through 20 computers with scientists, officers etc on chair. Data was precisely observed to avoid duplication through proper matching of characteristics.”

– DeshGujarat