Friday, March 19, 2010

Asiatic Lions Conservation - at Wankaner Rajkot District News Gujarat India

Gujarat State Government has identified an area near Wankaner City in Rajkot district for relocation of lions from the Gir National Park.

The area near Wankaner is the second area identified by the state government after Bardo Dungar in Porbandar district for the Asiatic Lions gene pool project which aims to guard against the threat of an epidemic that can wipe out the entire population of lions in Gir.

Gir is the last abode of Asiatic lions where there are an estimated number of 360 lions. The Gujarat forest department would conduct a fresh census later this month.

"We have identified vast area of land near Wankaner for conservation of lions," Gujatat State forest minister Mangubhai Patel told the state Assembly recently.

The state government said they have identified this land for long-term conservation of lions. They have also planned to make drinking water available in the area and construct check dams, the minister informed the House.

“Land identified in Wankaner will be used for gene pool project to maintain gene diversity of lions," Chief wildlife conservator Pradeep Khanna said.

However, the officials of state forest department said long-term plan is to relocate some lions in the area which has been prepared as an exclusive zone for them.

A recently released report of task force for lion conservation said lion population has been brought back from the brink of extinction after almost a century of conservation effort.

"The issues of genetic bottlenecking, genetic depression and catastrophic extinction have been discussed in general terms for a long time among the conservationists from the point of view of single population of any endangered species," it said.

A few studies have shown that the present lion population in Gir does not suffer from any inbreeding related genetic depression. A population viability health analysis carried out some time ago showed that the probability of catastrophic extinction was extremely low, the report said.

This does not brook complacency on the conservation front. On the contrary, the government has stepped up its vigilance regarding conservation of germ-plasm, the report said.
The area identified in Wankaner will be used as a part of this project in the intitial state and some lions will be relocated as a part of project, officials said.

The state government is fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court against translocation of Gir lions in Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh.

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