Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lion as a National Animal

Lion as a National Animal

As per the latest Country level assessment undertaken during 2010, the wild population of tigers in the country has been estimated to be 1,707 (1,520 being the lower limit and 1,909 being the upper limit of the estimated range). Further, the population of Asiatic lions in Gir National Park, Sanctuary and other areas of Greater Gir (Brihad Gir) was estimated at 411 by the Government of Gujarat in 2010. This was revealed in Rajya Sabha today by the Minister of State (I/C) for Environment & Forest Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan.

She stated that it is a fact that the Gir forest has the only wild population of Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) in the world. The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a subspecies of tiger native to Indian subcontinent and its geographical range includes most of the States in India. Other than India, the Bengal tiger also occurs in Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Tiger was adopted as our National Animal in place of the Lion in a meeting of the Indian Board for Wildlife held in 1972 in view of the following considerations:

(i)     Worldwide importance of Tiger and its existence over the entire Country;
(ii)    Need for its strict protection all over the Country;
(iii)    Tiger is found in as many as 16 States whereas Lion only in one State.
The Minister added that presently, Bengal tiger continues to be our National Animal, and there is no proposal under consideration with the Government to replace it with the Asiatic lion.

Smt. Natarajan further stated that the Planning Commission has approved, in principle, a project for "Conservation of Asiatic lion in Greater Gir Region" to be implemented by the Government of Gujarat over a period of five years at the cost of Rs.262.36 crores including central assistance of Rs.236.63 crores. The project, inter alia, includes creation of infrastructure for promotion of eco-tourism in the Gir forest.

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