Population spurt, space crunch drive lions of Gir into death traps | india news

The lion population rose from an alarmingly low 13 in 1913 to a healthy 523 in 2015. And 40% of these lions now live in Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath and Porbandar districts in the Saurashtra region, moving through 19 corridors covering 22,000 square km.

A tiny temple in Bherayi, a village in Gujarat’s Amreli district, displays the residents’ concern over the wellbeing of their satisfaction — the Asiatic lion within the Gir Nationwide Park.

The shrine, which doubles up as a memorial, was constructed just lately to make locals and authorities conscious of the necessity for security of the lions following the dying of two lionesses in what’s now referred to as Better Gir.

“Deeply disturbed by the deaths, we constructed the memorial,” mentioned Bhikha Jethva of the Lion Nature Basis, a non-government conservation group, this week.

Such efforts with the federal government’s assist gave Gir — the one place on earth the place Asiatic lions are discovered within the wild — a recent lease of life.

The lion inhabitants rose from an alarmingly low 13 in 1913 to a wholesome 523 in 2015. And 40% of those lions now dwell in Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath and Porbandar districts within the Saurashtra area, shifting via 19 corridors overlaying 22,000 sq. km.

Migration allowed a bigger prey base for the lions, however this has additionally change into their bane.

Gujarat forest minister Ganpat Vasava mentioned within the state meeting on March 5 that Gir misplaced 184 lions up to now two years at an annual common of 92, in comparison with the yearly common of 62 deaths between 2010 and 2015. Round one-third of those deaths have been “unnatural” — being run over by trains alongside tracks operating via the forest, drowning in wells left uncovered, and getting electrocuted by electrical fences, the minister mentioned.

Unfold over 1,882 sq. km, Gir has the capability to accommodate round 300 lions.

The inhabitants spurt has compelled the lions emigrate to newer areas via the corridors which, based on a forest official who didn’t need to be recognized, present a pure balancing act.

“However bother happens when there are obstructions within the free motion of lions via these corridors,” mentioned Ram Ratan Nala, deputy chief conservator of forest, accountable for two Gir areas.

These obstacles are 5 state highways and railway strains slicing via the lions’ land. These aside, there are ports, cement factories and limestone mines alongside the coastal hall abutting the sanctuary. Round 23 shrines alongside highways via the jungle carry the lions in direct battle with the individuals.

A 30km fence alongside the Rajula -Pipava railway tracks, inbuilt 2016, has claimed 14 lions up to now two years.

“The fencing has put a further obstruction to wild cats in shifting alongside the coastal hall,” mentioned Jethva of the Lion Nature Basis.

Uncovered wells are one other reason for fear. The forest division says 25,000 wells in and across the sanctuary have been lined with parapets. “However lions are venturing into newer areas and open wells will proceed to stay dying traps,” Nala mentioned.

One other killer are the electrical fences farmers have put in to guard crops from animals such blue bulls. Lions get electrocuted chasing their prey.

The talk over Gir’s rising lion inhabitants and shrinking habitat has touched the park’s tour guides and drivers of open Gypsies carrying vacationers and wildlife fanatics.

“Lions have been venturing into villages for a very long time. However now we’re in a position to see them extra typically,” mentioned 22-year-old driver Appu Bloch, who just lately noticed a pair of lions at a railway station.

Many households have rigged their houses, crop fields and cattle pens with excessive barbed wire and electrical fences. Based on Jumma Katiya, a resident of Sasan village, the fencing and security measures are a “small sacrifice” they’ve made for the lions, understanding little that these have prompted extra hurt than good.

The Gujarat State Save Surroundings Committee (GSSEC), a Saurashtra-based conservation group, desires the lions returned to the sanctuary, however the forest division calls it an “not possible” demand.

Wildlife specialists say translocation of Gir lions to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh is a attainable resolution. However critics of this transfer argue that the most effective wildlife practices of Gir can’t be replicated elsewhere. The Supreme Court docket in 2013 accredited the relocation to Kuno.

Kishor Kotecha of Wildlife Conservation Belief, Rajkot, filed a petition within the prime courtroom difficult the relocation plan. The highest courtroom will hear the plea this April. “Pure deaths have elevated because of rise in inhabitants. We should attempt to prohibit the variety of unnatural deaths,” he mentioned.

Folks like safari driver Bloch don’t need the relocation to occur. They are saying they don’t thoughts lions lurking close to their houses as they’re a part of the household.

“Nobody offers away a member of the family,” he mentioned, responding to the courtroom order to shift a few of Gir’s lions to Kuno Palpur to ease strain on the Gujarat park.

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