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| Last Updated:09/12/2019

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Lion territory doubles in three years

AHMEDABAD: The king of the jungle has conquered new territories. About one-third of theSaurashtra region has been marked as Asiatic lion-inhabited areas by the state forest department. A recent study based on frequent lion kills and compensation given to farmers says the big cats rule over a huge 20,000 sq km of area — almost double the 10,500 sq km recorded in the May 2010 census. 

A detailed analysis reveals that there are about 1,500 villages in Saurashtra where lions regularly venture out to kill domestic as well as herbivorous animals. Most of these villages are located in Junagadh, Amreli and some even in Bhavnagar. 

Experts say this is a result of good conversation efforts put in by the state government. The 
Gir national park and sanctuary is unable to contain the growing population of the lions — the numbers have consistently grown from 284 in 1990 to 304 (1995), 327 (2000), 359 (2005) and 411 according to the last census held in 2010. The first census of independent Gujarat state conducted in 1968 had put the lion population at 177. 

The next census, due in 2015, will be carried out over an area of 20,000 sq km. 

Forest department officials believe that out of 411 lions recorded in the last census, 114 have strayed into newer areas. Since the big cat can live close to friendly human habitations, it has even moved out of forest corridors where it feeds on domestic cattle. 

Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests, who conducted the study, says, "The study does not take into account stray kills. We have identified areas where the lion presence has been continuous over longer periods." 

The Times of India (26-12-2013)