Saturday, March 15, 2008

15 lions killed in Gir in last 2 years


15 lions killed in Gir in last 2 years

Indian Express

Ahmedabad, March 14 The Gujarat government on Friday admitted that 15 lions had been killed in the last two years in the Gir forests.

In 2007 alone, 18 wild animals, including lions, had been killed in the Gir forests, forcing the government to intensify measures to stop incidents of poaching. As many as 49 persons have been arrested for poaching related activities so far, the government said.

The 2005 census had showed an increase of 32 lions in Gir. The government stated that the estimated count as on date was 359.

A plan is on the anvil to expand the area of the Gir Sanctuary by about 17,887 hectares. The government said its efforts at conservation and protection of the big cat had given the animal more space.

Listing measures taken to protect the wild animals in the state's forests, the government said, additional staff had been recruited besides appointment of Vanya Prani Mitra (friends of wild animals) officials. New walkie-talkie sets and revolvers for foresters have also been sanctioned.

Installation of advanced cameras, periodical meeting of sarpanchs and villagers, keeping a watch on suspicious elements around railway and bus stations, and prizes to villagers for giving information about poachers were among other steps the forest department had initiated to protect the lions, the government said.

The state government has also set up a Gujarat State Lion Conservation Society. Besides, the government has also implemented a scheme to expand the boundaries of the forests while appointing foresters for its proper management.

A monthly meeting to monitor the steps taken to protect the lion is also held under the chairmanship of senior police officers.

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