Thursday, July 12, 2012

New 109 sq km conservation reserve earmarked for lions in Ahmedabad

New 109 sq km conservation reserve earmarked for lions in Ahmedabad
The Times of India

The swiftly-multiplying Asiatic lions of Gir have got the forest department to consider expanding the lion's kingdom. Now that these big cats have spread to parts of Amreli and Bhavnagar, the forest department has decided to mark a 109 sq km-area between Bhavnagar and Amreli as a conservation zone.

The new conservation reserve will be in the Jesar-Hipavadli zone. The area is spread across 109 sq km and is about 70 km from Gir forest. Officials said the state government will create breeding and water facilities for the Asiatic lion in the proposed reserve on the lines of those existing in Gir.

The only difference will be that this area will not be a national park, where movement of the people is restricted without valid permission. Here, all new activity in the area will be banned but the movement of people in the area will not be restricted.

The May 2010 lion census revealed that population of Asiatic lions has reached 411.

The census had also revealed that like Savarkundla, Liliya and adjacent areas of Amreli and Bhavnagar districts have a stable population of 53 lions.

Officials said that apart from being home to 53 lions, the area also acts as a corridor for big cats to travel along the banks of the Shatrunjay river. The area is a corridor to the newer territories near Bhavnagar and Amreli. In the conservation zone, humans will not be shifted out as is done in Gir National Park. Officials said that conservation zone status would pave way for the area to be declared a sanctuary.

"Once the proposal for a conservation reserve is cleared by the state, there will be restrictions on new industries in the area. There will also be no further mining here along with greater legal protection for the lion. A conservation reserve allows the human populace to co-exist in the area," said a senior officer.

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