Good healthcare facilities at Gir:Population of lions could reach 450

By Anil Pathak, Gandhinagar, 19 February 2013

Gujarat state Forest and Environment department has created all possible health care facilities for the lions in Asia`s biggest abode of lions at Sasangir in Junagadh district, and as a result the lions are being kept in best health in 2,500 square km area of the national park and other extended sanctuary areas bordering with Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.

A senior wildlife expert Pradeep Khanna who has just retired as principal chief conservator of forest ( wildlife) said that the sick or injured lions and other wild animals like panthers are being treated at three hospitals exclusively set up for the sanctuary as a part of the modernization of the Asia’s only habitat of lions at Sasan.

According to him these hospitals are equipped with all necessary gadgets and instruments required for providing medical treatment to lions, the number of which has reached to 411 in the last census conducted in 2010. These medical centres are situated at Sasan, Sakkarbaugh zoo in Junagadh and at Jasadhar near Tulsishyam.

The trained doctors are present round the clock at these centres. The wildlife department has made arrangements of electronic gadgets to monitor the movements of lions the vast stretch of the sanctuary areas. In case of any sickness or injury to the lions, the medical staff promptly detects the victim, and a team of the centre rush to the site and attend the injured lion and if need be they are brought to the hospitals where emergency surgeries are conducted.

Khanna said that during the year more than 50 such emergency cases are reported from the sanctuary and the sick or the injured lions are taken care of by the trained staff.

The state government he said has taken a series of measures to preserve and protect the big cats in the sanctuary.In a bid to check the incidences of poaching, the wildlife department has deployed 100 more guards in the sanctuary to see that the lions are not harassed or injured by such nefarious elements. The central government had provided a package of over Rs.40 crore for the protection of the wild animals in the sanctuary, while the state government has also doubled its budget amounting to Rs.20 crore for the sanctuary.

Following stringent measures and creation of more natural surroundings for the lions, the growth rate of the lions has reached 8 to 10 per cent and the population of the lions which was around 359 in 2005 has touched 411 in 2010, could be around 450 in the next census to be conducted in 2015.

While replying to queries Khanna said that the number of tourists to lion sanctuary is increasing leaps and bounds.The publicity campaign to popularize the lion sanctuary by super star Amitabh Bachhan has also yielded desired results. The latest figure of the tourists is staggering 1,00,000 which was 50,000 earlier.

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