Gujarat lion population roars to record 650

In the forest near Liliya-Krakach, noisy little cubs are seen sauntering around a small pond. Some of them are playfully pouncing on their mother who sits relaxed but watchful. These scenes in Asiatic lion's abode are not limited to Amreli district. Several forest areas outside the Gir National Park are brimming with lions, mostly in the age group of one to two years.

In fact, a recent internal lion count in July this year by the forest department has revealed there are nearly 650-odd lions, a record high, in the reserved forests and even outside the national park in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts. This is a record high number of big cats in the state since 1936 as per records available to us. There are around 180-odd cubs between one and two years of age. The roaring rise of 125-odd lions in two years -the lion population was pegged at 523 in 2015 lion census -was revealed in the lion population counting exercise now undertaken on every full moon day. The counting is done using 100-odd CCTVs and direct sighting method for effective monitoring of Big Cats.

The monthly full moon counting is matched with the records of kills and daily reporting by beat guards. In 2010 census, there were 411 lions. In fact, lions were categorized as `critically endangered' in year 2000 after only 304 lions were recorded in Gir in Gujarat in 1995 census.

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