A census of Asiatic lions will be carried out in May to find out the exact number of the big cats in Gujarat, where their population stood just over 400 five years ago, the Assembly was informed today.
As per the last census, carried out in 2010, there were 411 lions, 1,160 leopards, 293 bears and 48 Great Indian Bustards in Gujarat. Now, the state government would carry out a fresh census of lions in May, Forest and Environment Minister Mangubhai Patel told the House.
He was speaking on the allocations made in the state Budget of 2015-16 for his Department. Patel said due to the Government's continuous conservation efforts, Gujarat has seen a significant increase in the population of wild animals.
For the conservation of lions, Patel said his Department has alloted Rs 11 crore, which will be spent mainly on putting fences on both sides of rail tracks passing through Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode of Asiatic lions.
Fencing will keep lions away from the railway tracks as several cases of the big cats being run over by trains had been reported in the past, the Minister said.
As per a census carried out two months back, wild ass population in Gujarat has registered a jump of 413, taking their total number to 4,451, stated Patel.
A sum of Rs 1.60 crore has been earmarked for the conservation of bears and development of corridors used by wild animals to search food and water in the forests, he said.
Similarly, Patel said Rs 1 crore has been allocated for development of habitat for Great Indian Bustards, which is considered a highly endangered species.
The bird is found in Abdasa taluka of Kutch, where there is a sanctuary for them. However, these birds usually prefer to breed in the grasslands outside the sanctuary. Thus, to develop that area as their habitat and also to make it more suitable for their breeding, the government will spend Rs 1 crore, added Patel.