AHMEDABAD: An endangered lion that survives only in the Gir Forest of western India has increased in number to more than 400 due to decades of conservation work, local officials said.
The Asiatic Lion once roamed across southwest Asia but is now restricted to the 1,410 square kilometre Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding jungle. In the late 1960s only about 180 were thought to survive due to hunting. A growth rate increase from up to seven per cent in 2005 to almost 13 per cent in 2010 was “remarkable,” Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi told reporters on Sunday. “According to the census at present there are 411 lions in the Gir forest,” he added.
The IUCN international register of endangered species rates the Asiatic Lion as a unique sub-species that was critically endangered in 2000. In 2008 it improved its assessment, describing the lion as endangered.