Saturday, March 26, 2011

29 lions have died since April 2010 census: Govt

29 lions have died since April 2010 census: Govt
Times of India

At least 29 lions, including 10 cubs, have died in the past eight months since the census April last year. The state government said this replying to Porbandar MLA Arjun Modhwadia's query in the assembly on Wednesday.

The three-day lion census was held in the state from April 24, which found 411 lions in Gir and its surrounding areas. However, the government refused to say how many cubs were born after the census and simply said that, "The birth rate and survival rate of lions is more than the death rate. Hence it is estimated that there would be more number of lions, than those reported during the census," said the government reply.

Of the 411, 97 were lions, 162 lionesses and 152 cubs. Officials however played down the deaths and said this only meant that four animals had died on an average in a month in the last eight months. Past records show an average of 37 lion deaths every year. An official said that in 2007 there were 40 deaths including six by poaching, in 2008 it was 42 and in 2009 there were 30 lion deaths.

However, a senior forest official said that lions were spotted in about 10,500 sq km area right from Girnar hills, coastal area of Bhavnagar and even outside the sanctuary. Officials further said that the government has increased the security cover in the area, initiated new security measures and security staff. Forest officials have also been provided with sophisticated equipment for patrolling in the dense forest areas.

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