Headline : Vet institute, ambulances mooted in lion conservation plan
- In a bid to step up conservation and protection efforts of critically endangered ‘Asiatic Lions, the Centre and the Gujarat government have announced a 3-year dedicated ‘Asiatic Lion Conservation Project’.
About Asiatic Lions
- Asiatic Lions are critically endangered species, listed in the Schedule 1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Appendix I of CITES and endangered on IUCN Red List.
- Asiatic lions were once distributed in dry deciduous forests and scrublands from West Bengal in east to Rewa, MP in the west.
- Currently, the last surviving population of the Asiatic lions is confined to Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the only habitat of the Asiatic lion.
- According to 2015 census, there are currently 523 Asiatic lion in India compared to about 50 in 1980s.
Need for the conservation project
- In the recent years, there is a rise in number of deaths of Asian Lions due to various unnatural causes.
- According to estimates, the numbers of deaths of Asiatic Lions are 104 and 80 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
- The main reason for death of Asiatic lions:
- Construction of open wells in their habitat
- A viral disease known as Canine Distemper Disease. (a majority of deaths in 2018 are reported to be due to CDD)
- Further, Asiatic Lions are long-neglected with low allocation in conservation plans; Rs. 95000/ lion as compared to 15 Lakh/ individual in case of tigers.
About Asiatic Lion Conservation Project
- Asiatic Lion Conservation Project will be a 3-year centrally sponsored scheme funded from CSS-Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with centre-state contribution ratio of 60:40.
- It focuses both on protection and conservation of the lion species.
- It is mainly based on ‘species conservation over a large landscape” approach. Accordingly, Zone Plans and Theme Plans are developed.
- Zone Plans include expansion of habitat and developing a Greater Gir region including Girnar, Pania and Mitiyala.
- The Greater Gir region is then divided into Core Zone, the Sanctuary Zone, the buffer Zone for different levels of conservation.
- Theme Plans include habitat improvement, protection, wildlife health service, addressing to man-wild animal conflict issues, research and monitoring, awareness generation, and ecotourism.
Main features of the project
- Habitat improvement,
- Bringing together multi-sectoral agencies for disease control.
- Stepping up veterinary care by construction of veterinary hospitals
- back-up stocks of vaccines that may be required
- Increasing the number of lion ambulances.
- ICT-driven monitoring and surveillance systems including
- GPS Based Tracking
- Automated Sensor Grid with magnetic sensors, movement sensors, infra-red heat sensors
- Night vision capability enhancement
- GIS based real time monitoring and reporting
- A wildlife crime cell to step up protection
- Creating a task force for the Greater Gir region
- Establishment of additional water points
Section : Environment & Ecology