The population of the Asiatic Lion – the pride of Gujarat, has grown from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020, a growth of about 29% as per the latest census.
The territory or the distribution area of the big cat has also increased by 36% from 22,000 sq km to 30,000 sq km during the same period. The Gujarat government on Wednesday credited the Forest Department's conservation efforts for the success.
The Forest Department conducted an exercise 'Poonam Avlokan' (jungle watching during full moon) on June 5 and 6. During the two-day census, the department counted a total of 674 lions. Among them are 161 males and 260 female adults and 45 male and 49 female along with 22 unidentified sub-adults. Plus, 137 cubs were also identified.
There has been a steady growth in lions' population from 284 in 1990 to 359 in 2005. But from there, it just climbed with 411 in 2010 to 524 in 2015 and 674 in 2020. The latest count shows a growth of 28.87% over 2015 figures.
The growth in population is directly related to the expanding distribution area or the territory of beasts. During 1990, the area was around 13,500 sq km. It expanded to around 16,500 in 2005. The distribution area grew to around 18,500 sq km in 2010 and in 2015 it spread across 22,000 sq km. Today, the 'Pride of Gujarat' is found in 30,000 sq km area in nine districts of Saurashtra.
For the population estimates, the Forest Department used the 'Direct Beat Verification' method, also known as Block Count Method. The exercise was carried out exclusively by the Forest Department's staff from 13 administrative divisions, involving around 1,400 personnel.
During the 2-day census, data was recorded using modern technology such as GPS for location, time, number of individuals, individual identification marks, radio collar numbers, images and forest data. The collected data was extracted and analysed using GIS and statistical software.
The lion census in Gujarat is conducted every five years. The last census had identified 524 big cats in 2015..