Gujarat is home to 674 lions, with a majority of them living inside Gir Sanctuary. (Representational)
The Gujarat forest department’s efforts to develop new habitats for the Asiatic lion got a boost as a big cat has been spotted in Barda Wildlife Sanctuary in the state’s Porbandar district for the first time since Independence, officials said on Friday.
The three-and-half-year-old male lion entered the sanctuary some two days ago after spending considerable time near Porbandar town and preying on cattle, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Nityanand Srivastava said.
“It is a good sign a lion has been spotted inside Barda Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time after Independence. The Forest Department has been trying to develop this sanctuary as a second home for lions. We also run a breeding centre for herbivores in the sanctuary to increase the prey base,” Nityanand Srivastava informed.
The lion was part of a pride currently straying into a forest patch near the coastal town of Madhavpur and had reached close to Porbandar town after being driven away by other males a few months ago, he said.
The lion was radio-collared near Porbandar town a few months ago by the forest department to track its movement, Nityanand Srivastav said.
“It preyed on cattle and moved into Barda Sanctuary. Its movement is being monitored. Barda can become a second home for lions because it has ample supply of herbivores like antelopes, wild boar. Moreover, mining activity in a one-kilometre periphery of the sanctuary has been banned since 2013,” the senior forest official added.
In a statement, Rajya Sabha MP Pariman Nathwani, who is a also a member of the advisory committee for Gir National Park and Sanctuary, said this “natural migration” of lions towards their second home is a “historical event”.
“Many experts believe Barda Wildlife Sanctuary makes for an ideal home for lions because it resembles Gir forest in terms of eco-climatic features and human population. I am ready to extend all possible help to turn this sanctuary into the Asiatic lions’ second home,” he said.
The Barda Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across 192 square kilometres and is around 100 kilometres away from Gir National Park and Sanctuary, which is the last abode of the Asiatic lions.
As per the last wildlife census, Gujarat is home to 674 lions, with a majority of them living inside Gir Sanctuary.
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