Sunday, July 03, 2011

Coalition governments work in Gir

Coalition governments work in Gir
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

Politicians swear that running a coalition government can be a tough task. But in Gir, the lion kings have been running 'coalition governments' since a long time.

Gir, the last adobe of Asiatic lions, thrives on numerous prides being run on coalition governments.

In the Kamleshwar Dam site area, two lions have established their supremacy over a huge pride and an even bigger territory. "Usually one lion would rule the group and the other would just play a supporting role, but here the two lions rule a group of 28 members including females, sub-adults and adults," said the officer.

Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest head quarter says, "This group of 28 lions is being dominated by two males. This coalition is only to safeguard their territory against outside attack."

The bonding between these two lions is so strong that they mate with the same lioness.

"When one lion is mating, the other would be constantly on the move, guarding the territory and after four- five days, the second lion takes over and the first guards the territory. We are studying the unique mating behaviour of these two lions," Kumar said.

Gir forest officials said that apart from this group, there are several prides in Gir sanctuary that have two rulers. Additional principal conservator of forest, H S Singh, said in Africa too one can find instances where there are two lions ruling the group. There have been instances where there are three-five males in the group. But in all these cases, one of the lions is always supreme and the others play supporting roles.

"These lions pair up to save their own territory against invasion of nomads or other sub-adults. Usually the outside attack is by lions only and hence as protection, these lions team up. Usually after capturing the territory the strong one would become the king of the area, while the other would be supporting him," said G A Patel, former principal chief conservator of forest. He said that the lion population in Gir was increasing because of the conservation efforts and this practice of grouping.

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