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13 ‘unnatural’ lion deaths within a year in Gujarat, says govt

13 ‘unnatural’ lion deaths within a year in Gujarat, says govt
The Gujarat government on Friday admitted that 13 Asiatic lions died due to unnatural causes within last one year in and around the famous Gir Wildlife sanctuary in the state. During the question-answer session on the fourth day of budget session in the Gujarat Assembly, Congress MLA Jasu Barad asked the government to provide details about unnatural deaths of lions in the districts of Junagadh, Amreli and Gir-Somnath within one year. Barad also asked the government to provide causes of their deaths and action taken to prevent such cases in future.

In his written reply, State Forest and Environment minister Ganpat Vasava said that a total of 13 Asiatic lions died within last one year in these three districts. Among these, nine deaths were registered in Amreli, three in Junagadh and one in Gir-Somnath. Out of nine deaths registered in Amreli region, four lions died after being run over by trains, two died after they fell in an open well and three lions died in road accidents. In Junagadh, one lion died after falling in an open well and two died of electric shock. Similarly, one lion in Gir- Somnath region died of electrocution.

Vasava also listed some preventive measures taken by the government to stop such incidents. These measures include constructing fence on both sides of railway track where these lions are usually seen; constructing underpasses to allow movements on both sides of track; training for Loco pilots and guards, putting signboards on such railway routes etc. As per the 2011 census, there are total 411 lions in the Gir forest, said Vasava while answering another question raised by Dhari MLA Nalin Kotadia.

The next census will be carried out in 2015, he said. Around 114 lions are also found in surrounding areas of Gir forest due to increase in their population, said Vasava in his written answer while replying to a query raised by Vejalpur MLA Kishorsinh Chauhan. Chauhan wanted to know about lion habitats found outside Gir forest in Junagadh. In his answer, Vasava said lions are also found in Girnar, Matiyala and Paniya sanctuaries.

Apart from these sanctuaries, lions are also found in several parts of Gir-Somnath, Bhavnagar and Amreli districts, such as Una, Kodinar, Sutrapada, Savarkundla, Liliya and sea shore near Chhara. According to the minister, 114 lions were found to be living in these areas when last census was conducted.
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