As food chain breaks, lions move out of Gir
Times of India
JUNAGADH: Fifteen years ago, if a lion accidentally reached within 10 km of the Gir forest fringes, it made headlines. Today, cases of lion sighting
show that over 40 per cent of Asiatic lions have not only reached border villages, but have travelled 50 km away from Gir in search of food.
The reason, as many experts believe, is because Maldharis are moving out of Gir forest with their cows and buffaloes easy preys of the lions. A retired forest department officer, who worked in Gir, said, "Gir is a place that is identified by Asiatic lions and Maldharis. They co-existed naturally in the forest. This chain of natural co-existence chain has been broken."
"In the past, in a 1,400-sq km area of Gir, there were 150 to 200 Nes (a Maldhari dwelling), with thousands of Maldharis living there. One lakh cattle of these Nes provided 4 lakh litres of milk daily," the official explained, adding, "Whereas today, only 54 of these dwellings exist, with a mere 25,000 cattle. In a 30-km stretch, between Dhari and Kodinar, only eight Charan families, 7 Koli Maldharis and some Ahir and Rabari families live, that comprise only 20 families.
The ex-official said, "It's a fact that all those places from where Maldharis have moved out, the lions, too, have left. The diminishing cattle has definitely had an impact on habitation pattern."
Kana Gadhvi, president of Maldhari Sangh, living in Biliyad Nes of Gir, said, " When lion kills our cattle, we don't like it, but we know we exist due to the lions. We protect each other." Karsan Gadhvi, another Maldhari living in deep forest at Sap Nes, said, "Without sufficient cattle, the Gir lion has become restless. Lion, Maldharis, cattle and the forest make a natural cycle, which is breaking."
Experts believe, like in countries of Tanzania and Kenya, where gypsies are resettling, the time has come to relocate the Maldharis to their old habitats.
Another interesting fact that comes out is that of the Ahir, Charan, Bharwad, Rabari, Makrani, Saiyad and some other caste Maldharis, mostly Rabari, Charan and Ahir have stayed back.
Kishore Kotecha's Comment :-
I do not content of this article. It is true that Maldharis are a part of Gir ecosystem. Some 20-25 years back number of Maldharis and cattle in 150-200 nesses was less than that in 45 nesses today. Before they were more tolerant and did not needed luxuries. But today they need electricity, motorable roads, more land, water facility and much more. Before hardly any one had motor-bike or vehicle. Today they need cars and 'Chhakdo' Rikshaws. Before they were not too much urbanized. But now they have many many city dwellers as their friend, as their these so-called friends want to lodge in nesses to see lions and enjoy forest! Many experts say that Maldharis are making Gir ecosystem more fragile by fragmenting the forest land. Experts say that "Today's Maldhari" is not "Maldhari of 20 years Before." They do help a bit in lion's food chain but in turn they do more harm to forest ecosystem.
I strongly say that left-out 45-50 nesses should also be moved outside the forest by giving them good land & compensation package. Most of the nesses are in the nation park i.e. core area of Gir forest which is not allowed even by Forest Rights Act 2006.
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