Indian state to open new sanctuary for Asiatic lions as numbers rise

Asiatic lion conservation efforts in Gujarat, India, have been so successful that a new sanctuary is due to open to house the big cats.

Today, Gir National Park is home to the world’s only population of Asiatic lions and the only place outside of Africa where you can see a lion in its natural habitat.

The number of endangered animals has soared, to about 400 in Gir and 300 in other parts of the state, that Gir has been overpopulated for years. Lack of space has forced lions to move into cities and coastal areas.

That’s why conservationists have been asking the government of Gujarat to relocate some lions to other parts of India to give the Gir enough room to breathe. Consequently, keeping so many of one species in the same location also makes the animal vulnerable to infectious diseases.

But the state government has resisted the lawsuit, prompting criticism that it is possessive of lions to the point of ignoring their best interests.

Supreme Court ruling for Asiatic lions

At first, authorities resisted a 2013 high court ruling ordering them to move some lions to a sanctuary in the neighboring state of Madhya Pradesh. The ruling said the measure was essential to prevent a disease from wiping out the entire population.

So Gujarat said some lions will be moved out of Gir, though only to another location within the state, the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary. The new home will have capacity for around 40 lions and is getting ready to receive its new residents.

Authorities told local media that the herbivore population was increasing and that some of the densely wooded areas, which lions dislike, will be pruned to make the vegetation more sparse.


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