Thursday, May 23, 2013

Herbivore count shoots up in Gir

Herbivore count shoots up in Gir
Times of India

The Gir lions and the leopards have more animals to feast on. The recent herbivorous count revealed that the prey base for the big cats has increased. The herbivorous count in Gir, the prey base for the big cats in Gir forest, has increased by over 18.40% in the last three years.

Data revealed barring Langur and peafowl, the density was 76.48 animals per sq km, while the same in 2010 was 66.86 animal per sq km. Officials said a two-day census was conducted on May 7 and May 8 this year. The count was organized as per set parameters, method and routes to cover all possible habitat and management units of Gir. Census was conducted and sample data were obtained from all the 19 routes.

The count revealed a number of over 1, 26,893 Chital, Sambar, horned antelope, chinkara, wild bore, langur and peafowl. Officials said going by the 1000 sq km area of the Gir Sanctuary where these animals were found, there were 76.49 animals per sq km. This was 1,07,172 animals in 2010. The officials said that the maximum increase in terms of percentage was in Chausingha which was only 290 in 2010 and this increased to 650 in 2013. Sandeep Kumar, the deputy Conservator of Forest headquarters, said around 18.40% growth is recorded in last three years with an average rate of 6.13% per year in total number of herbivore population in Gir National Park and Sanctuary from 2010 to 2013.

Officials said that in 1974 census has shown the herbivorous count was less than 10,000. This has increased constantly ever since then. The biomass density in Gir was around 8000 kilogram per sq km. This was the best in any of the protected sanctuary within the country. "The biomass density was around 10,000 per sq km in Serengeti in Africa, we are fast catching with Serengeti," said a senior officer. He said that around 85 per cent of the lion kill is herbivorous animal, while 15 per cent depends on live stock this was the reverse in the late 1970 and 1980's. "Between 1970 and 1980, the 85 per cent of the kill was live stock," said the officer.

G A Patel former Principal chief conservator of forest said that the density of 76 animal is very good. "One pride of lion has his territory spread in an area of 40 sq km. Going by the figures there are over 3040 animals in one territory which is a good number," Patel said. He said that with the lion population increasing the herbivorous is also increasing which is a good sign.

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