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Population of Asiatic lions has increased outside protected area of Gir National Park and Sanctuary

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

 

A recently conducted census revealed that the population of Asiatic lions has increased outside the protected area of Gir National Park and Sanctuary. Therefore, the Gujarat government has decided to form a high-level task force to study their growing habitat. 

The forest department will form the task force to analyze the census data in the wake of growing lion population outside Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the sole home of the Asiatic lions, officials said. 

“The aim of the task force will be to prepare a report about growing habitat of lions outside the sanctuary and suggest measures to reduce man-animal conflicts,” they added.

P K Taneja, Additional Chief Secretary in State Forest and Environment Department said, “We will chalk out a plan based on the census data, which suggests increase in habitat area of lions. I have asked the officials to form a task force comprising 4-5 senior officials to suggest corrective measures on how to reduce threat on lions and decrease man-animal conflicts.”

The lion population has gone up to 523, which was 411 in the 2010 census, as per the 14th lion census.

Gir forest is spread over 1,412 sq kms, and the census report of 2015 suggests that the habitat area of the lions has increased to around 22,000 sq kms, which is almost double than 2010. 

Out of the total number of spotted lions i.e 523, 268 were registered in Junagadh district, 44 in adjoining Gir-Somnath district, 174 in Amreli and 37 in Bhavnagar. 

On being asked about the extension of the sanctuary limits or form a new sanctuary where lion habitat is found, Taneja said the committee will also look into these aspects. He also pointed out the need for re-deployment of forest staff to keep a check on lion movement outside the sanctuary.

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Monitoring Method May Help To Conserve Lions in India

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions

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Lions
Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Pixabay

An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions.

New conservation practices have helped increase the number of Asiatic lions from 50 to 500 in the Gir Forests of Gujarat.

Accurate estimates are needed for better conservation efforts, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The existing methods, particularly a technique known as total counts, can miss some and double-count others. Also, they provide limited information on the spatial density.

Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions.

“Our research addresses this priority by developing a robust approach to their population assessment and monitoring, which can be used for all lion populations across the world,” said an author.

Gogoi and colleagues used whisker patterns and permanent body marks to identify lions using a computer programme, and analysed the data with a mathematical modelling method known as ‘spatially explicit capture recapture’ to estimate the lion density.

They also assessed the prey density and other factors that could influence the lion density.

Lion, Predator, Dangerous, Mane, Big Cat, Male, Zoo
An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions. Pixabay

The researchers identified 67 lions of the 368 sightings within the 725 sq km study area in the Gir Forests, estimating an overall density of 8.53 lions per 100 sq km. They found the prey density didn’t appear to influence the lion density variations in the study area.

The lion density was higher in the flat valley habitats (as opposed to rugged or elevated areas) and near sites where food had been placed to attract lions for tourists to see them.

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The study suggests that baiting lions for tourism affects their natural density patterns, in line with other researches that baiting disrupts lion behaviour and social dynamics.

The authors said the alternative monitoring method could be used to assess lions across their range (in India and Africa) and better conservation efforts. (IANS)