Monday, March 25, 2013

For people of Saurashtra, lions are like kin: Gujarat govt

For people of Saurashtra, lions are like kin: Gujarat govt
Times of India

The people of Saurashtra take care of lions as they would of their own family members. If they spot a lion in the vicinity of their village, they take pride in the fact and protect it. These statements were made by the government in the assembly for the first time.

Minister of state for forests and environment Govind Patel - in response to a question from Nikol MLA Jagdish Panchal - informed the house that lions were found in many places of India, but they survive only in Gujarat owing to people's conservation efforts. "They are the pride of Gujarat and it was only because of the people of Saurashtra that the lion population grew," Patel said. "Even if lions attack cattle in villages, the villagers are tolerant of lions."

Patel told the house that government had also created post of 'van mitras' who take care of the animal and keep a watch on the movement inside the sanctuary. He said 898 eco-clubs had been formed in the Saurashtra region

Responding to a question Patel said that there were 411 lions - 97 males and 162 females - in the sanctuary. He further said that the state had created gene-pool centres. Five new cubs have been born in the last one year at the Rampara Virdi centre. These cubs have been born to two pairs of lions captured from completely different areas and brought to Rampara to ensure that the genes different. These centres provide a shield against weakening genes of Gir lions.

For example if the lioness was from Sasan, the lion would be from a far off area of Tulsishyam or even Bhavnagar.

The minister informed the house that there have been no instances of villagers offering baits to lions in order to show the animals to visitors. However, he admitted that his department had penalized people caught on the spot to the tune of Rs 93,500 to Rs 31,400.

The minister said that "illegal shows were not possible in the state as the sadhu and saints were also complaining that they were denied access to various temples inside the sanctuary". The MLA, however, said that the local people were offering buffalos as baits to organize such shows.

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