February 18, 2024
Stable Mortality Rate: 555 Asiatic Lions Died in Last 5 Years, Says Government
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Stable Mortality Rate: 555 Asiatic Lions Died in Last 5 Years, Says Government

Stable Mortality Rate: 555 Asiatic Lions Died in Last 5 Years, Says Government

Stable Mortality Rate: 555 Asiatic Lions Died in Last 5 Years, Says Government

The Lok Sabha was informed on Monday that 555 Asiatic lions have died in the last five years, but there has been no increase in their mortality rate. The Gir forest in Gujarat remains the sole natural habitat for Asiatic lions. Government data revealed that the number of these big cats in Gir increased from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020. Responding to queries, Union Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated that 113 lions died in 2019, 124 in 2020, 105 in 2021, 110 in 2022, and 103 in 2023.

No Surge in Lion Mortality: Government’s Rebuttal to Concerns

When questioned about a potential rise in lion deaths, the minister negated any increasing trend. Over the years, experts have advocated for lion translocation in India to prevent geographical isolation. A second habitat could safeguard lion populations from extinction due to epidemics, unexpected prey decline, or natural disasters.

Translocation Plans: Addressing Conservation Risks

A 2023 report by the Wildlife Institute of India revealed plans to translocate 40 lions to the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary, approximately 100 kilometers from the Gir National Park. In 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered lion translocation from Gir to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. However, the government released cheetahs into Kuno in 2022-23 as part of a project to reintroduce the spotted feline in India. Wildlife expert Ravi Chellam emphasized the need for geographic separation, stating that Barda, being close to Gir, cannot be a replacement for Kuno.

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