Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gir lion count to be declared on Gujarat Day

Gir lion count to be declared on Gujarat Day
Times of India

The much awaited counting of the Asiatic lion to begin on April 24, will cover another milestone — that of taking the shortest ever time to compute data and declare the numbers by May 1 when the state will celebrate 50 years of its foundation.

Within three days of the exercise, covering four major districts of Junagadh, Porbandar, Amreli and Bhavnagar, which concludes on April 27, the forest department will have the data ready. Preparations are on a warfooting after chief minister Narendra Modi's office desired the results on Gujarat Day when Modi will kick off the Swarnim Gujarat celebrations.

Besides, indications are that the lion count is expected to cross 400 mark. Officials said that use of modern technology, like Global Positioning System (GPS), would help estimate the number quickly. The last census in 2005 after a month of computation and collation of data declared the lion population at 359.

The photo records of each pride would help eliminate duplication and also tell the unique identification marks. Principal secretary, forests and environment SK Nanda said that as a part of the ninemonth old exercise, the forest department has identified around 450 locations where lions have been sighted. "The team would continuously keep monitoring these locations."

He said for the first time the forest department will be doing a digitised mapping of the lion using GPS.

He further said "nearly 130 odd GPS would be given to the zonal officers and above who would be taking the position of the lion spotted and would note down the details."  Nanda said that there are 100 sub zonal officials, 28 zonal and seven regional teams which would all have GPS. He said as soon as the team in the field sights a lion, it will inform the sub-zonal officials who will rush to the spot with GPS.

When asked about CM declaring the results on May 1, Nanda said that the department would be ready with the count on April 30."

Media kept out

Usually during census operations, mediapersons are allowed to be a part of the team for a day. But in 2010 census journalists have been kept out. A couple of media photographers had applied to be a part of the census, but were turned down. Even private photographers who participated in the exercise, would not be allowed to use the photographs they have taken, all these would be downloaded at the office of the forest department.

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