Gir lions’ den gets bigger by 180 sq km
DNA, By Anil Pathak
GANDHINAGAR: The Asiatic lions at the Sasan Gir lion sanctuary will soon be able to romp through a larger roaming ground, an expansion that is expected to enhance their chances of survival.
The state government has decided to extend the sanctuary up to Girnar, Junagadh, merging an additional 180 sq km, raising the sanctuary's total area to 1640 square km.
The state forest and environment department has been compelled to expand the limits because more than 100 big cats have strayed into the forests and nearby villages, threatening milch animals and humans.
The state forest and environment secretary, S K Nanda, said that the proposed extension of the sanctuary would provide a better habitat to the lions, which had started moving to the nearby plains bordering Amreli and
"The initiative is the need of the hour and the state government is committed to preserving and protecting the lions at Gir, the lone abode of the Asiatic lions in world," Nanda said.
He said that the move was a part of several other measures the government has envisaged as part of a Rs40 crore plan announced by chief minister Narendra Modi to save the lions.
Responding to increasing congestion in the sanctuary, the state government had extended the sanctuary area twice in the recent past.
Earlier, authorities had incorporated Puniya into the limits of the sanctuary in 1989.
But again, the lions had started moving towards the forest range of Amreli and again the sanctuary area was expanded by merging the Mitiala stretch of the forest into the sanctuary in 2004.