19th April 2009.
The Times of India
Mr. Himanshu Kaushik
Ref: The Gir lion news published on Page no. 5 of The Times of India dated
16th April 2009.
I have been closely observing Gir lions since more than two decades documenting their behavior in Gir and in some other areas as well. The news of "food chain" seem to be misleading because –
1. Present Asiatic lion population (as per 2005 census) at 350 plus is the highest ever in the history of Gir. Obviously they need larger area. Also, increased population of herbivores spread outside Gir and some of the lions living on periphery do follow them. Also, lion is a strong territorial animal which tries to drive away younger or weaker lions. Females with young cubs also try to protect her young ones from other males. Such females, if living on periphery, often find areas like sugarcane fields a safe habitat. Some lions find this new home and have been increasing there, while some use various corridors to roam in both - protected as well as surrounding areas.
Lions in fact are in a process of regaining their lost territories of old Gir which was three times larger than the present 1412 sq. km. area and their population was much less.
2. Another independent lion census done by scientists and researchers around the same period of last census also shows almost the same number of lions of 350. It also showed that central Gir is also occupied by lions. This supports the fact that the lions have not moved after maldharies.
3. It is a simple fact that inducing domestic livestock in lion food chain is certainly not a correct conservation method. Wild animals should live on wild prey and they have not to be "fed" by domestic livestock.
4. Humans and domestic livestock share the same natural resources that of the wild animals. Moreover, it is observes that most of the cattle grazing areas have degraded irrevocably. In the long-term conservation, it is necessary that wild habitats be remain free from human inhabitation. Accordingly, protection is being provided in Girnar, Pania, Mitiyala, Barda, etc. new sanctuaries.
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