Friday, January 22, 2010

Lion census in April, to cover 4 districts

Lion census in April, to cover 4 districts
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

The first lion census after the poaching incidents of 2007, will be held in the peak of summer in April this year and for the first time will cover at least four districts, the area estimated as the lion spread since the last census of 2005.

The forest department will use the direct sighting method and cover the entire coastal stretch from Porbandar to Palitana in Bhavnagar district.

Official sources said the four-day census would have over 1,000 people involved in the counting and its findings would be very significant especially in the context of the recent Supreme Court query on giving some lions to Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier, census was held only in Amreli and Junagadh districts, which have the Gir forest. This year the census will cover 8,000-10,000 sq km area against the reserved sanctuary of around 1500 sq km.

Pradeep Khanna, principal chief conservator of forest, said the census would be covering all the area where the lions have been sighted. He confirmed that the direct sighting method will be used this year also. The 2005 census showed 359 lions.

Officials said in this method, on sighting of the beast, the height, weight and length would be recorded along with some special marks for distinction. These markings, made for each group, would help eliminate duplication in case a group moved to another territory

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