New Delhi, September 3 (G’nY News Service): On July 12, 2015, forest officials recovered carcasses of four lions and lionesses each and a female cub from the banks of the Shetrunji river. The perished lions are believed to be among the 40 odd big cats that forest officials said were “missing” from the Krakach range of the Gir forest following the heavy rains ofJune 30. Nevertheless, the news caused furore among wildlife enthusiasts and reinforced their claims that restricting the lions to just one area puts the endangered species at risk of extinction. Now, found only within the custodial Protective Area (PA) of the Junagadh, Gir Somnath and Amreli districts of Gujrat.
Experts argue that the population has almost reached the saturation point in the core area of the Gir national park, which might subsequently expose them to the vulnerabilities of inbreeding, disease and extinction. They also revealed that the proliferating population of these lions has chiefly been observed outside the protected zone – thus bringing them close enough to human habitations which might result in man-animal conflicts.
Hence, environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts have been urging the government to take the pressure off the Gir National Park and relocate a part of the populace so as to establish at least one more free-ranging population of lions.
In 2013, even the Supreme Court directed the Gujrat Government to relocate apart of the population to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. The government of Gujrat refused, citing that lions are the “pride of the entire state” and that even the locals do not grudge the predation of their cattle by lions. Clearly, the Government of Gujrat is more focused towards tourism than conservation. It goes without saying that these endangered beasts are high revenue generators, and the government of government is reluctant to share it with its neighboring states.