Friday, April 20, 2007

Gujarat Forest department involves villagers to save Gir lions

Gujarat Global News Network, Bhavnagar Dated: 16-04-2007


In a desperate attempt to save Asiatic lions from the clutches of poachers the forest department has launched a massive programme in the Gir forest area. The two pronged strategy involves villagers for the protection of the lions.


Divisional Forest Officer, Bhavnagar, K S Randhawa said that on one hand the department has stepped up patrolling and on the other hand it has taken up a programme to make villagers aware about the seriousness of the problem. He said that the problem was more in the areas adjoining the sanctuary.


The forest department has pooled all its manpower resources for the patrolling and awareness programme. Teams of officials of Forest and Police have been formed for the task. They are holding meetings with villagers and soliciting their support to check any poaching activity.



The headcount of the lions is going on. The idea of the headcount is to map the location of lions so that effective security and protection measures can be taken up. Generally the census through elaborate counting system is done once in five years.


Killing of about ten lions in the last months and natural deaths of some other has posed a serious threat to the existence of the endangered species. Police have arrested number of persons in the last one week in connection with the poaching of lions.


Two days ago, the department had found remains of lion from three pits in a village in the Palitana taluka of the Bhavnagar district. However, FSL report showed that the remained belonged to two lions.


Dr A K Varshaney , Conservator of Forest, Rajkot, who is also camping in Bhavnagar said that Bhavnagar division had 14 lions as per the last census two years ago. The department has been able to locate six lions in its headcount operations so far and the operation will take two three more days to be completed.


He said that the problem is more serious in the outer areas and the teams involved in awareness programme are also tracking unnatural deaths of cattle. Explaining this he said that poachers use cattle as bait to kill lions. They pay to farmers for their cattle. Payment of compensation amount in a village is indicative of activities of poaching, he added.

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