Girnar mountain now sanctuary
Times of India
Junagadh : Finally, after over two decades, the authorities have acknowledge the presence of great Asiatic lions in the forest area of Girnar or Datar mountain near Junagadh and declared it a sanctuary.
With 18,000 hectares of land now coming under wildlife protection area, life for 35 lions and about 80 leopards may become a little safer, along with a host of other animals like spotted deer,horned deer, various types of cats, hyena, porcupines, among other animals, who have made this place their home.
According to an estimate, this area has 550 different species of flora and fauna. Available statistics show 378 herbs found in the forest area have medicinal value and there are more than 300 species of birds, ranging from peacocks to Indian pita and finger-sized sparrows to a large variety of ducks.
The first lion was spotted in this area in 1985 and now it is home to over 35 big cats.
"With 10 cubs, about 15 females and rest male lions, this area has truly become a new lion country now," says a forest official from Junagadh range territorial circle. Till now only the Gir forest area was protected area and a declared wildlife sanctuary but now forests near Junagadh and Girnar mountain have also become lion habitats. Roars of lions are regularly heard from as near as Bhavnath, just on the out-skirts of Junagadh.
It is also very interesting to note that in this area lion prides do not form their territory but are found moving around leading a nomadic life.
This area has immense natural water resources and thick foliage. For its density, it has received Vrikshamitra award of the central government and Teri award for its planning of water resources. And now with it being declared a protected area, forest officials would be able to deal strongly with poachers.
"Now we would be able to deal with poachers under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which entails 3 to 7 years imprisonment for those killing an animal protected under schedule 1 and 2. Section 50B gives us punitive powers," says an official.