Palaj, Gandhinagar: Human animal conflict has become a critical issue at the Gir National Park and Sanctuary of Gujarat which constitutes the only landscape where the endangered Asiatic lions are now surviving and are conserved in the world. With an idea to contribute to the conservation of the endangered species, a student of Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) has taken up this challenge of minimizing the conflict.
Final year BTech student of IITGN, Rushabh Desadla plans to cool off this issue by giving a technological intervention to improve the water supply arrangement at the watering holes in the forests to benefit maximum number of animals and species in the ecosystem of Gir.
Desadla said, “One of the major reasons of man-animal conflict during the dry season is the source of water. As water becomes scarce, man and wild animals start depending on the common water sources which have not dried. This puts them in a situation of mutual conflict.”
The study will involve change in the design of the water points and changes in the material used. It will also look at the system of water supply to these water points and suggest improvements for more efficiently utilization of water.
Desadla said, “It is important to design these water sources in such a way that they are user-friendly for maximum number of species of animals, birds and reptiles. The water supply system should be such that the process doesn’t disturb the animals as well as water is properly utilised. The use of solar pumps and wind mills for using local ground water will be examined.”
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and the Chief Wildlife Warden of Gujarat Shri Kuldeep Goel said, “As the habitat of these majestic animals lie in the dry and drought prone regions of the state, it is a huge effort for the Forest Department to arrange for drinking water for the wild animals. In Gir and its surrounding areas, the Forest Department has made around 5oo artificial water points which have to be regularly filled. The efficient design and management of these water points is a key requirement for animals and birds during the dry season.”
Gir National Park and Sanctuary in Gujarat constitute a landscape which is the only place in the world where Asiatic lions are found in their natural habitat. While these lions were once found all over West Asia, today, they are conserved only in the Gir forest where successful conservation efforts have tremendously helped the lion population to grow. According to a census carried out in 2015, the population of Asiatic lions in the wild had grown from 177 in 1968 to 523 in 2015. The study by IITGN will help the forest to conserve water for better animal habitat.