The Gir Forest National Park in Gujarat rejoiced with the news of the hike in the population of its Asiatic Lions. Yes, the critically endangered species that was on the verge of extinction some years ago now seem to be fighting back to maintain its entity in the country as per an unofficial count conducted in the national park. In a report in the 1960s, there remained only 180 Asiatic Lions in India and that instantly hit the alarm for Forest Department and the wildlife conservationists, who in return are believed to have worked tirelessly to save this one of the big cat species which only inhabits in a 1400 sq km Gir Forest area in India. Gir is said to have been home to 523 Lions in 2015 but in 2018, the count has gone up to 600 with an average 2% population growth per annum.
Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Vijay Rupani credited the efforts of the Government, effective conservation management, skilled staff at ground level and support of local people who showed tremendous tolerance towards these big cats even when the lions killed their cattle. Since 1968, the population of this endangered species has been gradually increasing from 177 to 411 in 2010, and it was in the year 2015 that the lion census indicated a gleeful 27% rise in the population. The next official lion census will take place in the year 2020, however, the unofficial census did elicit a sigh of relief from the state government, forest officials and wildlife enthusiasts.
Asiatic Lion is the subspecies of African Lions and is said to have migrated to Asia some 100,000 years ago. Earlier, spread in Asia and in North Africa, this species is unfortunately confined to a small area in the state of Gujarat in India. In the year 2000, Asiatic Lions were declared critically endangered but thanks to the conservative measures of the state and the forest department, the population seems to be growing steadily. This surge in the number of lions is one of the finest examples of why conservation measures are important and how significantly it can change the situation for the endangered species. The local’s support also is an inspiration for others to realize the importance of wildlife and to do their bit to save it.