Lion census starts, king is doing fine
Times of India
The first round of the lion census, which began at 2 pm on Saturday, has fetched good initial reports. By 7 pm several teams had already spotted groups of lion with newborn cubs.
A team that was moving in the coastal areas, however, said that they could not spot any group from Veraval to Mangrol. There were earlier reports of sighting in these areas but according to the team members, there were no sightings for five hours beginning from 2 pm.
The team members said that the villagers had also told them there was no sighting in the past couple of months.
However, the reports from the Gir sanctuary, Babra Virdi, Bhavnagar and Palitana suggested encouraging results. A team in Bhavnagar said that the area had seen good populations. The team member said that earlier the count was 17 only in Mahuva and this was expected to go up 21.
A team member said that the arrangements were good and there was proper coordination so far between the officials and the ground staff. The officials said that those in the Gir jungle were moving on bikes and those in the interior were moving on foot.
He said that in the night they would be sitting at one spots for some time and would be constantly in touch with the villagers and would be moving, keeping ears focused to catch roar of the animal.
The team member said that this was the official census, but the department already has the numbers with them. The exercise was on for the last eight months. However, with experts from the Union forests ministry and researchers getting involved, this exercise was important and essential too. The team members said that they had been instructed to take the count of other animals which are spotted in their respective beats. However, officials who were involved in the exercise said the reports from the forest were good and there were several sighting of a group of six to eight lions and that too with small cubs.
The member, however, said that the officials were in dilemma over giving out the number of the cubs as the survival rate was just 50 per cent.
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