Gujarat’s pride: Lion count officially crosses 700-mark

The lion number in Gujarat has officially crossed 700 this year, registering a 6-8% rise in the population, top sources in the state forest department said. The increase was noted in the ‘Poonam Avlokan’ (population observation exercise during full moon). The exercise was first held last year in June in place of Lion Census 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gujarat forest department officials said that the lion population could be between 710 and 730. The officials said that the counting exercise will be made an annual affair so that the lion numbers are published every year instead of every five years.

The 2020 Poonam Avlokan in the lion landscape had recorded 674 royal beasts with an increase rate of 28.9% over the 2019 figure. The previous high in the growth rate was 27% in 2015 over the 2010 figures. The 2015 count was 523 lions.

The officials said that the 2020 count had revealed the adult male to adult female ratio to be 1:1.61 and the adult female to cub ratio to be 1:0.53. These ratios have not drastically changed.

The officials said that a count of lactating lionesses (adult females with cubs less than one year of age) was also undertaken. This data is being studied. Of the 260 adult females, 23% were recorded to be lactating in June 2020.

The officials said that the count in 2021 has revealed that the lions’ range spanned 30,000 sq km and they annexed no new territory over the past year.

The distribution of the lions had increased from an area of about 22,000 sq km in 2015 to about 30,000 sq km in 2020, representing a 36% expansion in the range.

The officials in Gandhinagar said that the lion population remains the same in Gir, Mitiyala, Girnar, and Pania sanctuaries. The population growth has been mainly in zones outside the sanctuaries.

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