22 Jan 2023

Gujarat: Asiatic Lions Could Not Be Shifted To MP's Kuno, But Will They Naturally Migrate To Nearby Sanctuary


Porbandar (Gujarat): Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only home of Asiatic Lions in India and the world. According to the last wildlife census, there are 674 lions in Gujarat and most of them are in Gir. Being the only destination to spot the Asiatic Lions in India, it keeps on attracting a large number of tourists from several parts of the world.
The last and only population of Asiatic lions in the wild is now confined to the Gir Forest in Gujarat and its environs. For years experts have been urging the authorities to translocate some lions to a second home as insurance against calamities.
For this purpose, Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno Sanctuary was developed for years as a second home for lions. But the project did not materialize and now Cheetahs have arrived in Kuno and the focus of the authorities is on the success of Project Cheetah.
Authorities may have dilly dallied in shifting lions to a second home but natural migration of lions to their new home has begun.
The Gujarat Forest Department is now working to develop Barda Wildlife Sanctuary in Porbandar district, Gujarat as the new abode of lions.

Lion seen for first time in Barda after Independence

The efforts of the Forest Department of Gujarat to develop a new habitat for the Asiatic lions have started bearing fruit. Officials said recently that for the first time after independence, the Asiatic lion has been seen in Barda Wildlife Sanctuary.
Principal Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Nityanand Srivastava said the three-and-a-half-year-old male lion entered the sanctuary two days ago after spending some time hunting cattle near Porbandar town. The sighting of a lion inside the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time after independence is a good sign, he said. The Forest Department is trying to develop the sanctuary as a second home for the lions.
A breeding centre is also being operated to increase the number of herbivores for predators in the sanctuary. Srivastava said that the lion was roaming in the forests near the coastal town of Madhavpur and a few months ago it got separated from other male lions and reached near Porbandar town.

Radio collar fitted to lion to monitor its activities

Srivastava said that the Forest Department had fitted a radio collar to the lion a few months ago to keep an eye on the big cat. After hunting cattle, the lion reached Barda Wildlife Sanctuary. Its activities are being monitored. Barda can be a second home for lions as it has large number of herbivores which the lions can prey on. Also, mining has been banned since 2013 within one kilometer radius of the boundary of the sanctuary.


Natural migration of lion to another habitat is a historical phenomenon

Parimal Nathwani, Rajya Sabha member and member of the advisory committee of Gir National Park and Sanctuary, said the natural migration of lion to another habitat is a historical phenomenon. 

"Many experts are of the view that Barda Wildlife Sanctuary would be an ideal habitat for lions as it is similar to Gir forest in terms of climate, ecology and human habitation," Nathwani said. "I am ready to provide all possible help to make this sanctuary a second home for the Asiatic lions."
Significantly, the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 192 square kilometers and it is about 100 kilometers away from the Gir National Park.

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