Lion sanctuary to come up at Jesar

GANDHINAGAR: In a major step, the state government has decided to set up a new lion sanctuary at Jesar hills in the Bhavnagar-Amreli forests to ensure better conservation of the Asiatic lions of Gir. The new location is on the eastern side of Gir sanctuary.

A team of senior forest officials are in the process of demarcating 100 sq km area in the forest range of Bhavnagar and Amreli bordering Mitiala area. A small wildlife sanctuary was created in Mitiala in 2004 following increasing congestion of wild animals in Gir.

At present, more than 50 lions have made Mitiala and its surrounding areas their home. Once the new sanctuary comes up, it could provide a natural habitat to at least 100 lions.

The Gir sanctuary area has over 359 lions and 999 panthers at present. The state government decided on creating a new sanctuary after the alarming number of lion deaths at least 100 in the last four years. Plus, continuous pressure from the Central government to shift the lion sanctuary to Madhya Pradesh for better conservation spurred the state authorities into action.

When contacted, state chief conservation of forest (wildlife) Pradeep Khanna admitted that the proposed new sanctuary would provide more space to the lions who have started coming out of the sanctuary area in search of new natural habitat. "We therefore decided to set up a new sanctuary for lions somewhere near Jesar," he said.

Source: The Times of India