Centre allocates Rs 59 cr for Asiatic Lion conservation in Gujarat

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New Delhi, Feb 9: With the aim to protect and conserve the worlds last ranging free population of Asiatic Lions, the Ministry of Environment on Friday launched a three-year Asiatic Lion Conservation Project in collaboration with the state of Gujarat.

The project, at an estimated cost of Rs 98 crore, for which the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has allocated Rs 59 crore to Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary, will span over three financial years — 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

It will focus on the scientific management of the lion habitat with the involvement of communities, disease control and veterinary care for the overall conservation of Asiatic Lions.

During the launch of the project, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan handed over an amount of Rs 17 crore to Ramanlal Nanubhai Patkar, Gujarat Minister of State for Forest and Tribal Development, for the implementation of activities in the state’s Gir sanctuary during the first year of the project. 

Expressing happiness about the collaboration, Patkar said presently there were about 700 lions in Gir National Park and that they are increasing in number. 

Vardhan assured the Gujarat minister that this project will be a “model scheme in the times to come and would not be like a routine affair.”

The Asiatic Lion in Gir is one of the 21 critically endangered species identified by the Ministry for taking up recovery programmes. It is being listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, to be accorded the highest degree of protection.

Speaking on the occasion, Additional Chief Secretary of Gujarat Rajiv Kumar Gupta said that the state government will spend an additional amount for a hospital and ambulances for the lions. 

The project, Vardhan’s office said, will use modern information and communication technology (ICT) for conservation, protection and development efforts of the Greater Gir region, including GPS based tracking, surveillance, animal and vehicle tracking, magnetic and movement sensors, infra-red heat sensors, night vision capability enhancement, GIS-based real-time monitoring, analysis and report generation.