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100 cubs turn Gir into roaring success (Oct)


                                                                              The Times of India, Ahmedabad, 10th October, 2013
The Cute quotient of Gir is soaring with some 100 lion cubs being sighted in the sanctuary and surrounding areas in the last few days. The number of new arrivals touching the three figures mark has elated forest officials, who see it as a stamp of approval on conservation efforts.

Gir, the world`s only remaining home of wild Asiatic lions, is used to 80-85 cubs every year. Studies, however, show that only 56% live to see the third year of their lives.

Their first year is the most crucial. This is the first time foresters have seen a substantial jump in cub count, which means more lion are likely to cross that 12-month thresh old.

The last census in 2010 had put the number of lions at 411 into he state which included 97 males, 162 females and 152 cubs. The adult population of the pride stood of 62%, up from 48% in 2005. Forest officials said more lionesses meant more cubs.

" We have seen an increase in the number of cubs with each passing year. It is possible only because of the cooperation the forest department gets from villages and patrolling staff.

People immediately inform us if they see an injured cub in the area. This helps reduce mortality, said Gujarat principal chief conservator of forests C N Pandey.

Added deputy conservator of forests Sandeep Kumar, The chances of visitors sighting the cubs have increased as many of the little ones are in the tourist zone of the forest."

In 2008, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had removed Gir lions from the critically endangered list and put them in the comparatively healthier endangered list. Foresters are expecting more good news with the latest IUCN report likely to come out soon.

The Supreme Court has ordered Gujarat much against its wishes to part with a few of its lions for their relocation to Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, In the long term interests of the lions survival.