Guj: Asiatic lions census deferred due to lockdown By Parag Dave

Guj: Asiatic lions census deferred due to lockdown By Parag Dave
Ahmedabad, Apr 23 () The census of Asiatic lions inGujarat's Gir Wildlife Sanctuary has been deferred due to thelockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, a seniorforest official said on Thursday.

The extensive counting exercise, which is taken upevery five years, was to begin next month and preparations forit were on in full swing, but it has now been postponedbecause of the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, he said.


Gujarat has so far reported 2,407 coronavirus casesand 103 deaths due to the disease.

"In view of the lockdown, the lion census will nottake place in May. A decision on the census will be taken onlyafter things become clear on the coronavirus situation and thelockdown, Chief Conservator of Forest, Junagadh division, D TVasavda told .

Initially, it was decided to conduct the census in Mayand then it was postponed to June, but now it all depends onthe situation, he said.

The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the only abode ofAsiatic lions, remains closed during the monsoon season fromJune-end to October, which is also the mating period of bigcats, another official said, adding that the census is mostunlikely at that time.


During the last census conducted in May 2015, 523lions were found in the Gir forest.

The state has succeeded in conserving lions in the Girforest, where their numbers dwindled to just over a dozen inthe early 20th century.

The erstwhile Nawab of Junagadh, Mahabat Khan, hadthen banned shooting of lions.

Due to conservation efforts of the state authoritiesafter Independence, the number of wild cats has steadily goneup in Gir.

At present, lions are found in seven districts -Junagadh, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath, Botad, Porbandar andRajkot - surrounding the Gir forest area.


At times, they stray into farms in these districts andsometimes enter cities and towns located on the periphery ofthe sanctuary.

Two years backs, lions in Gir faced a threat ofinfectious diseases.

The state government in February last year said asmany as 34 lions died in 2018 due to various diseases,including the canine distemper virus. PDGK GK

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