Thursday, September 01, 2011

'Don't move Maldharis from Gir'

'Don't move Maldharis from Gir'
Times of India

The state government may be planning to move Maldharis out of Gir sanctuary, but a study has revealed that livestock contributed as a major food source for the lions.

The study on "The Relevance of Maldhari Livestock to Lion Conservation" was conducted by Kaushi Banerjee as a part of the main study, "Social Organization and Dispersal of Asiatic Lions."

The study of Banerjee was taken up in the eastern part of the sanctuary. Banerjee monitored six Maldhari nesses to determine significance of Maldhari livestock to the conservation of lion.

He concluded that if livestock was removed from the sanctuary area, lion density, pride size and structure are likely to be altered significantly.

The study revealed density of the livestock is estimated to be 30 livestock per sq km during summer season which increases to 42 livestock per sq km during monsoon.

The main study was undertaken by Yadvendradev V Jhala, head of the department of animal ecology and conservation biology of the Wildlife Institute of India, Ravi Chellam former director Wildlife Conservation Society-India and Bharat Pathak, director of Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation.

It was found that on an average about eight livestock were hunted or scavenged per 100 livestock.

The study further revealed that the hunting of livestock is highest in summer, followed by monsoon. The livestock hunting is lowest in winter.

The data of livestock consumption compared with the lion density revealed that livestock contributes approximately 50 per cent to the lions' diet. The average financial loss per hundred livestock was estimated to be Rs 20,800.

The lions hunted predominantly on sub-adult cows followed by the adult cows. The study further revealed that inclusion of cattle in grazing herds by the Maldhari community suggests that Maldharis of Gir use the cattle as a strategy to minimize predation on more valuable buffaloes. The average financial loss per hundred livestock was estimated to be Rs 20,800.

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