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Task force to study growing habitat of Asiatic lions in Gujrat

Lions at Tata Steel Zoological Society

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

The forest department will form the task force to analyse 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 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,” Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) in state forest and environment department P K Taneja said.

As per the 14th lion census, the results of which were revealed on May 10 this year, the lion population has gone up to 523, which was 411 in the 2010 census.

While the Gir sanctuary is spread across 1,412 sq kms, 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 total 523 lions spotted during this census, 268 were registered in Junagadh district, 44 in adjoining Gir-Somnath district, 174 in Amreli and 37 in Bhavnagar.

When asked if the state government was considering to extend 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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