Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gir Lion King may soon get another home: Hipawadi

Lion King may soon get another home: Hipawadi


Express News Service


Vadodara, May 30: CRAMPED habitant, a shrinking prey base and a steadily rising population of Asiatic lions in the Gir sanctuary has been worrying foresters since long. Friday’s “one-off” incident of a lion preying upon a Lati village woman has only underlined the need to expand the majestic animal’s abode or give it a new protected area.


And many in the State Forest Department agree that the incident has forced them to take a serious look at the problem and expedite plans stretch the sanctuary’s boundaries to newer areas in the Kathiawar peninsula.


The Forest Department is working on a proposal to declare 300 sqkm in Hipavadi region of Bhavnagar and Amreli districts as another lion sanctuary. The region, already home to about 30 lions, can accommodate around 70, say senior foresters.


“Providing the lions with one more planned, protected area will help dispersing the population. The first proposal was sent to the State Government sometime ago, and is now being amended after some discussions,” said Gir Conservator Bharat Pathak.


With a Savannah-type vegetation best suited for the lions, Hipavadi was home to a large number of big cats up to 1950s. The new proposal to declare it a sanctuary will mean bringing more lions to the region, taking off the pressure from Sasan and its protected satellite areas.


Officials say the expansion is part of a strategy to increase protected areas in the Kathiawar peninsula to accommodate the rising number of lions. Mitiyala was declared a sanctuary in 2003 as part of this plan.


“We are working on the proposal. Changes are being worked out. Hipavadi can become a sanctuary in a year or so,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Pradeep Khanna. After Hipavadi, the Forest Department will focus on Jamnagar’s Barda region that has favourable habitat conditions in an area of about 400 sqkm. Over 150km from Gir, Barda could also be termed as an alternate home for Asiatic lions in the State, when it is developed in next five years, said a senior forest official.


On the lion’s trail


MORE than 50 foresters from all ranks are on the trail of the lion which killed a woman in the Lati village on Friday night. The lion needs to be trapped before it attacks and preys on other human beings, say officials adding, the animal is either old having lost its tearing teeth or is injured. Officials do not rule out the case of mistaken identity as well where the woman was taken for a buffalo.


For the cats,


Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 100 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

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