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Friday, 22 January 2021

Threat to its survival despite the growing number of lions

Risk to Gujarat's Pride:What is the most important public interest application in the history of Gir? Why do experts believe that the existence of lions is endangered despite the increasing number of lions?

Not only is the number of lions increasing, but experts say lions are migrating because they do not get enough food and water in Gir.

We have to resort to the courts as the government is not keen on conserving the biodiversity of the Gir forest as much as it cares about developing tourism.

The Gir forest in Gujarat is considered to be the only habitat of Asiatic lions in the world. The lion's population has increased significantly in the last few years due to the relentless efforts of the government, the maintenance of the forest department and the love of the locals. But the forest area of ​​Gir is shrinking against the ever-growing population of lions. Due to which the lions have spread to other areas and have now reached as far as Rajkot. 

A public interest litigation has been filed in the Gujarat High Court by Save Lion, a voluntary organization of wildlife enthusiasts, arguing that the Gir Forest Management Plan implemented by the state government is incomplete, inadequate and requires several improvements. The government has been asked to respond by the High Court, but has not been answered by the government for two terms. Now the deadline has fallen again next February. 

Meanwhile, Mayank Bhatt of Save Lion has been placed under house arrest by Vadodara police for unknown reasons. Apart from Mayank Bhatt, Divya Bhaskar spoke to wildlife enthusiasts including Ramesh Rawal, a well-known Gir scholar, and got detailed information about the shortcomings of the existing management plan as well as the proposed improvements.

Gir Forest is divided into two zones and a total of 16 ranges

PIL maker Mayank Bhatt incarcerated
At present, the Forest Department and the government are adopting the procedure for Sih and Gir, not in accordance with the Gir management plan but with an ad hoc procedure. Due to which, the condition of the Asian lion has become dire. The number of lions is increasing and the area of ​​Gir is decreasing. The current management plan has several shortcomings and needs urgent improvement. We made a formal request to the Forest Minister and senior officials, including Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, in July 2019. 

Even after that, without any positive efforts in that direction, we have filed a public interest application in the Gujarat High Court in October, 2020. The High Court has two terms. Despite the court order, no reply has been received from the government and the hearing will now be held on February 4. Meanwhile, I have been incarcerated for the last few days. The government is probably afraid that I will agitate. The forest of Gir and the lions are the proud natural resources of the whole of Gujarat and India. It is our goal to maintain it properly.

Gir, famous for its lions, is actually home to many rare plants, trees and other organisms

Who did the PIL? Why?
A public interest litigation filed before the Gujarat High Court has pointed fingers at the loopholes in the Gir management plan. Among the applicants is DM Naik, a retired IFS officer. Has served in the field of wildlife and wildlife conservation for 35 years. 

Ramesh Rawal has been a wildlife warden and is known across the country as a student of Gir. Mayank Bhatt is a wildlife activist. Holds nationwide seminars every year on the conservation and maintenance of Gir forests. Along with these three experts, activists of voluntary organizations associated with Gir are also backing the public interest petition. As stated in the application before the High Court,

1.From the data collected by the government, the number of wildlife v. Information is needed, but there are no long-term plans to sustain the growing number and diversification of the Gir Forest.

2. According to the Wildlife Act, the state government has an advisory of various experts, but it is never disclosed what suggestions were given and what was implemented. There is an impression that these advisors are not being taken seriously by the Forest Department for various reasons.

3. The current Gir Management Plan is of a time when the lion population growth was the main issue. Now that the lion population is growing in significant numbers, the plan is inadequate.

4.Now we need to think in the direction of balancing the growing population of lions and the shrinking boundaries of Gir. How to preserve and enrich the biodiversity of the forest? The current management plan is inadequate on these and many other questions. It should be revised as per the advice of wildlife experts and a new plan should be implemented.

The number of lions has grown very well in the last 115 years

The number has increased, but what about breeding?
"The number of lions has increased in recent times and we are all proud of it, but we are completely unaware that lions are becoming homeless," said Ramesh Rawal, a well-known lion lover who has dedicated his life to the conservation of lions. Once seen in a total of four districts, Junagadh, Amreli and then Bhavnagar, the lions have now reached eight districts in Gujarat.

The government is busy promoting tourism. Shows increased income from tourism, but Gir forest, trees, soil are eroding, lions do not get food in their own homes. The main food of lions is dairy cattle, but for the last few times lions have stopped hunting nilgai.

 Because there is not enough antidote in the forest. In the name of lion show, the habit of an animal with a basic hunting instinct is being spoiled by killing a lion. These are all things that, no matter how much they increase today, could be a threat to the very existence of the lion if it is not rectified immediately.

As the number of dairy cattle is declining in Gir, the diet and behavior of lions are also changing.

There is
no need to send lions anywhere else . The area of ​​National Park and Sanctuary in Gir is 1412 sq. Km. Km. While the area of ​​Paniya and Mitiyala sanctuaries is 30 and 18 sq. Km. Is. These sanctuaries revolve around 227 sq. Km. Km of reserved forest and outside it is a buffer area of ​​protected and unclassified forest. According to Mayank Bhatt, there is a big difference between the figures on paper and the reality, as the regular travelers in Gir and the scholars of Gir know.

Ramesh Rawal also said that construction is prohibited in Gir but the forest department itself has done haphazard constructions. Maldharis are pushed out of Gir in the name of eco-sensitive zones. As a result, lions have not been able to get enough of their natural food from dairy cattle.

 According to Mayank Bhatt, the lion does not need to be moved anywhere else. The lion is not a lizard-like creature. It can coexist with humans. It is desirable that the lions be relocated in a natural order to the north of Gir for some time now.

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