Enumerators fan out in Gir to count lions
The GPS system will be used in the census, and every lion spotted will be photographed.
The Gujarat Forest Department started the five-day enumeration of lions in the Gir sanctuary here on Friday.
The census will continue till May 5 in five districts in and around the sanctuary, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest C.N. Pandey said.
This time, only direct sighting or direct contact will be used for the count. Indirect evidence such as pugmarks and scat will not be taken into account, thus giving 100 per cent results, Mr. Pandey said.
The department conducts the head count in this last abode of Asiatic lions in the first week of May every five years. The last census in 2010 counted 411, up from 359 of 2005.
The GPS system will be used in the census, and every lion spotted will be photographed. Rather than preparing manual notes of the location, a geo-reference system would be used to tag it, Mr. Pandey said.
As many as 2,500 people, including 600 units of enumerators, will participate. The enumerators include wildlife experts, officials, trackers who keep note of the behavioural pattern of lions and those of non-governmental organisations.
Enumerators will record unique identification marks such as scars on face, colour, shape of ears and tuft of hair on tail of every lion, he said.
"The census will take note of the pride and individual animals. This will reduce chances of overlapping, because if the adjoining group [of enumerators] spots the same lion, then it would be easy to differentiate the animal on the basis of its pride," he said.
"The teams have reached there and are engaged in a pre-survey exercise. The first team will conduct the 24-hour counting on May 2 and return on May 3. While on May 4, another team will conduct the census exercise up to May 5. The final figure is likely to be announced on May 10," he said.
Inside the Devalia forests in the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode of Asiatic lions