Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lion's share goes up in Gir


Lion’s share goes up in Gir

DNA India By Jumana Shah

AHMEDABAD: Now, here's one more reason for the last breed of Asiatic lions in Gir to cheer. Acknowledging the need to expand the habitat area of lions, the state government has accepted the Greater Gir proposal.

According to the proposal, the current sanctuary area has to be increased threefold and the entire corridor declared eco-fragile.

Through the Rs40 crore allocated to the Gujarat Lion Conservation Society in the state budget this year, the government has already initiated expansion of the habitat as the population of lions is expanding rapidly. The entire corridor up to Palitana in Bhavnagar and Mahuva in South Savarkundla and Jesar will be declared protected.

This expansion is in addition to the recent addition of a 180 sq km area of Girnar hills to the 1,460 sq km of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and Puniya and Mitiyala forest areas to the sanctuary in the past.

"The idea of Brihad (Greater) Gir has been accepted by the government. Nearly 200 sq km area will be given protected status sometime in the future and maybe even sanctuary status eventually," said principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Pradeep Khanna. He said efforts were on to identify and acquire land which used to be the traditional corridor of lions as they were straying there in huge numbers anyway.

Most of this land which was once habited by lions is now farmland, cattle grazing land (guachar) or villages. This is making the task of giving the area the requisite protected status rather difficult. "Identifying the ownership of the land is a lengthy process as the area is very large. But since the government has agreed in principle to expand the habitat of lions, it should not be very difficult," Khanna added.

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