Wednesday, January 06, 2010

50 Gir lions to get GPS collars Wild Cats Between 5-9 Years Will Be Tracked

50 Gir lions to get GPS collars Wild Cats Between 5-9 Years Will Be Tracked
Times of India

It is official now. About 50 lions, out of the 359 lions, in Gir forest will be fitted with the Global Positioning System (GPS) collars. These lions will be mainly males in the age group of 5-9 years and at least one from every group will be collared. The task force appointed by the state government to combat man-animal conflicts in Gir forest, in its list of recommendations, has suggested that 10 per cent of the lions be fitted with GPS collars.

Senior officials from the forest department said that all the recommendations of the task force have been accepted and the process to implement the same has begun. The tenders for GPS collars will be floated shortly, said officials. The task force, headed by principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Pradeep Khanna, was set up in 2007 after eight lions were killed by poachers in Junagadh and Bhavnagar districts. It has recommended that technological solutions be implemented in three phases. The first phase will be devoted to Gir, which is the last abode of the Asiatic lion, the second to rest of the lion habitat in Brihad Gir and the third, to upgrade communication network technology.

Officials said 10 per cent of the animals outside Gir and within the sanctuary will be fitted with GPS collars. Genetic studies will also begin and be integrated with Geographic Information System (GIS) application and database. Apart from keeping a tab on the movement of lions, it will also enable the officials to have a database of the lions, keep a track of their movements and behaviour pattern. Officials said this will also help in several studies which are going on at the level of the conservator of forest.

Tenders for the same will be invited, including 500 GPS enabled hand-held communication devices to be supplied to protection staff. The VHF network should be augmented with additional towers and repeaters to provide coverage in entire Gir, long range night vision equipment should be supplied to mobile patrolling squads. Breeding and exchange protocols for gene pool should also be developed.

Officials said a decision has also been taken to replace the VHF network by a 3G-compliant broad bandwidth wireless network to enable image transmission.

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