A dedicated“Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” with a budgetary contribution of Rs 97.85 Cr from Central Government was launched. With a view to strengthen the conservation initiatives, theUnion Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change(MoEFCC) approved the project for three financial yearsFY 2018-19, FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21. The Asiatic Lion. endemic to Gir landscape of Gujarat, is one of the 21 critically endangered species identified by the Ministry for taking up recovery programmes. Asiatic Lion, being listed in Schedule-I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, to be accorded the highest degree of protection.
Speaking at launch event in New Delhi on , Union Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the project envisages a scientific management with involvement of communities in coordination with multi-sectoral agencies for disease control and veterinary care for overall conservation of Lion. He said the visit to the Gir Forest and witnessing of lions in their natural habitat had been an extraordinary experience for him. Dr. Harsh Vardhan handed over the sanction for an amount of Rs. 17.03 Crores to the Gujarat Minister of State for Forest and Tribal Development Shri Ramanlal Nanubhai Patkar for implementation of activities during first year of the project. Expressing happiness on the collaboration, the Gujarat minister said that there are about 700 lions presently in the Gir Forest and they are increasing in number.
Speaking on the occasion, the Additional Chief Secretary of Gujarat Shri Rajiv Kumar Gupta said that in all with the contribution of the State Govt, about 300 crore rupees will be spent including 80 crore rupees for a hospital and ambulances for lions.
This project has “Species Conservation over a large landscape” approach. Besides this approach, the Greater Gir Region(GGR) is being divided into various zones and management approach of “Zone Plans and Theme Plans” for the conservation of the Asiatic Lion. “Zone Plans” include the Core Zone, the Sanctuary Zone, the buffer Zone i.e. proposed for notification as the Eco-fragile/eco-sensitive Zone and the Greater Gir Region outside the Gir PA system for people’s participation and eco-development. Theme Plans include Habitat improvement, protection, wildlife health service, addressing to man-wild animal conflict issues, eco-development and voluntary relocation of PA resident people, research and monitoring, awareness generation, and ecotourism.This project would, therefore, be beneficial in further strengthening the conservation and protection of Asiatic Lion in the country.
Modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is proposed in the conservation, protection and development efforts of the Greater Gir Region. Additional ICT will include the following:
- GPS Based Tracking
- Surveillance Tracking
- Animal Tracking
- Vehicle Tracking
- Automated Sensor Grid
- Magnetic Sensors
- Movement Sensors
- Infra-red heat sensors
- Night vision capability enhancement
- GIS based real time monitoring, analysis and report generation.
In the recent past also, many initiatives for consolidating the conservation of Asiatic Lions have been taken. These include:
- The concept of Greater Gir has been adopted through which additional suitable habitat for lion is being developed for the habitation of lion.
- Besides Gir National Park & Sanctuary, Girnar, Pania and Mitiyala have been notified as sanctuaries to widen the protected area network and home of lion
- Habitat improvement measures have been undertaken.
- Additional water points are being established and the existing water points are being maintained.
- Protection mechanism has been strengthened with creation of Wildlife Crime Cell at state level and Task Force for the GGR(Greater Gir region).
- Open wells are being covered with parapet walls to prevent death of wild animals due to fall in the well.
- Intelligence gathering system has been strengthened.