Thursday, May 08, 2014

Annual census of herbivores begins in Gir forest

Annual census of herbivores begins in Gir forest
Business Standard

A two-day annual census of herbivores in Gir forest and national park began today to ascertain the exact population of these species.

Greater Gir, spread across Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts of Gujarat, is the only habitat of sub-species of Asiatic lions.

"A total of about 50 teams of officials have fanned out on 19 routes, imaginary divisions have been identified in the national park and protected forests of Gir to assess the exact number of herbivores," Gir's deputy conservator of forest Sandeep Kumar told PTI here today.

The members of each team travel in the area to get an idea of the total number of herbivores in the sanctuary. The counting happens two times a day, he said.

The exercise covers survey of ungulates like spotted deer, sambar, blue bulls or roj, four-horned antelope, Indian Gazelle (chinkara), wild boars and langurs. Peacocks too would be counted during the exercise.

"We undertake this exercise every year to monitor the population of these animals," Kumar said, adding that since peacock is the national bird, they have included it in the census every year.

Lions prey on ungulates and a healthy population of the latter in Gir forests is cited to be one of the reasons why the big cats have survived there.

Around 75,000 ungulates were recorded in Gir during the 2013 census.

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