The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, famed as the only abode of the Asiatic lions in the world has seen a steady increase in the lion population over the last few decades. Wildlife conservation officials and the local villagers deserve a pat on the back for their efforts. According to a report from the TOI, the number of lions in the reserved forests and even outside the national park in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts is estimated to be around 650.
Speaking to the TOI, a top official said: “Gir and its periphery have recorded a count of nearly 650 lions. This is record high number of big cats in the state since 1936 as per the available records. There are around 180-odd cubs between one and two years of age”.
The counting exercise is undertaken every full moon day using 100-odd CCTV cameras and direct sighting method for effective monitoring of the big cats. The monthly full moon counting is matched with the records of kills and daily reporting by beat guards.
The steady rise in the population of the lions is encouraging and indicative of the concrete measures undertaken by the officials in regards to their conservation. The villagers who live near the Gir forests also deserve credit as they treat the lions as one of their own. The acceptance of the lion as an honourable animal by the villagers is a trend that may continue into the future as well.