The census of lions taken up last week registers a dramatic 130 percent more in numbers of the Asiatic lion population in Gujarat at 523, up from 411 in 2010 but environmentalists are up in arms that the Gir forest region is shrinking due to human encroachment.
The census undertaken in 22,000 square km found merely 4.4% or 14 lions, whereas 96 lions were found in the periphery region bordering human and commercial settlements. Nearly 14 lions were killed in accidents in the last one year due to overcrowding of the area, said reports. About 258 lions for various reasons since 2010.
The Supreme Court ruled that these lions be relocated but the move is stalled owing to finding an alternative location suitable for the king of forest and Gujarat’s reluctance to part with its prestigious animal. Moreover, the magnitude of such endeavour would be highly daunting on forest officials.
The man-animal conflict, however, continues in Gujarat’s Gir forest area due to high-speed railway trains along the tracks where lions are known to have been killed many times in the past. Besides, there 5 state highways which run through the forest region, relegating lion safety to toss, especially during the nights.