Skip to main content

Gujarat's "fully protected" Gir National Park has just 22 Asiatic lions: A detail state Chief Minister refused to divulge

By Rajiv Shah
Well-informed sources in Gujarat government have told Counterview that the latest lion census enumerators could find just 22 lions in Gir National Park, the no-man’s “fully protected” territory within the Gir forest area to “preserve” the rare species. Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, while making an announcement of 523 lions in Gujarat, up from 411 in 2010, refused to give any breakup of the number of lions found in the National Park.
When contacted, former Gujarat’s chief wildlife warden GA Patel confirmed the existence of so few lions in the Gujarat National Park, saying, this is a matter of “serious concern” for India’s conservationists. “I have repeatedly drawn the attention of the state forest officials about the need to something urgently to stop dwindling of the number of lions in the Gir National Park”, he said, adding, “The result is now there for all to see.”
According to Patel, “The forests have gone very thick in the Gir National Park, which is of 258 sq km area out of a total of 1,412 sq km of the Gir forests. The forests are so thick here that even grass doesn’t grow here, as a result of which the herbivorous, which are the main prey of the lions, do not breed.” In his estimate, the territory of 258 sq km of the “fully protected” Gir National Park should ideally have between 60 and 70 lions.
Rest of the 1,153 sq km area is Gir sanctuary, which is not a no-man’s land. Here, mainly the local cattle breeders, maldharis, are still allowed to live in several villages, called neses. There have been frantic efforts in the recent past to unsettle the maldharis, who breed buffaloes, from the forests in the name of further “protect” the Gir forests for the lions.
The lion census, whose results were announced on Sunday, found that there was a very little rise in the number of Gir lions in the forest area (Sanctuary plus National Park) – from 297 in 2010 to 302 in 2015. The census found that 221 lions of a total of 523 lived outside the Gir forest, in a 22,000 sq km wide span – and of these, in the coastal areas of southern Saurashtra alone accounted for 167 lions as against 71 in 2010.
Patel, who is former member, National Wildlife Board, and has been a strong advocate of not allowing Asiatic lions to be shifted to Madhya Pradesh, further said, “A management plan on a pilot basis has been prepared for creating special territories of 50 hectares each in the Gir National Park and the Gir Sanctuary, where thickness of the forests would be reduced to allow grass to grow, attracting herbivorous, so that lions are attracted here.”
Submitted to the Supreme Court, Patel admitted the plan cannot be implemented “so easily” as the apex court wants the wood removed from the 50 hectare area each of the Gir National Park and the Sanctuary should not be put to commercial use, and handed over to the local people. “One has only to see how African lions survive: There are huge open spaces between forests, which is what the plan seeks to implement”, Patel adds.

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Coal blocks for tycoons: Rinchi village tribals may be declared forest land encroachers

By Gladson Dungdung*
On June 18, 2020, the Government of India initiated the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercialisation. These coal blocks are located in different states within India and most of them fall under Fifth Schedule areas. The Indian government claims that their decision to auction these coal areas is a big step towards making the country Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) in the energy sector.