Monday, February 15, 2010

Sasan Gir Forest National Park - GIS for Asiatic Lions

In a first, the state Sasan Gir Forest Department will be using Geographical Information System (GIS) for census of Asiatic lions in the Gir Forest National Park from April 25 to 30.

Unlike in earlier methods, the department will not be using baits for the census this time.

Nearly 450 beat guards have been identified as enumerators for the upcoming census.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Pradeep Khanna said, “We are opting for GIS mapping to prevent redundancy and bring in more accuracy in counting.”

According to Khanna, in the last census, a total of approximately 360 lions were reported at the Gir sanctuary.

“We will not use baits this year. We have not used the system for two consecutive terms. We have trained our staff to follow simply the sighting system,” he said.

The preliminary survey for probable locations of sighting lions has already begun at the sanctuary.

Forest officials said, “We will also identify lions by their scars, which is a specific method for some animals that are found close to human habitats and those away from the area.”

Khanna said: “The GIS system will help the Forest department to do away with the tabular form of saving the Asiatic lion census data. It will also facilitate the department to bookmark Asiatic lions habitat including changing trends and seasonal patterns.”

According to officials, new methods will be a combination of the earlier ones. “The census will be done in three parts. First, it will be counting, followed by rest for the staff and lastly the collation of sightings,” said forest officers.

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