The Congress MP Rajani Patil on Tuesday said that the Asiatic lions are vulnerable and they are facing a “lot of challenges because the protected forest areas are shared by the human population”.
Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha, she said that the forest reserves for lions and tigers need to be human-free. The Gir forest has only 250 sq km of human-free area for lions while the other areas in Saurashtra are shared with humans, she added.
She also claimed that the Gujarat government is “reluctant” to the scientific implementation of the counting of lions in Gir.
Citing the deaths of over 1000 lions in the Serengeti forest reserve of Tanzania due to an epidemic, she said that “these lions are vulnerable to various diseases, epidemic etc and we need to avoid this short of incidents in India as distemper of virus is killing the Asiatic lions in Gir also and such an epidemic can extinct the Asiatic lions also.”
Patil stressed on ensuring human-free areas for lions and other arrangements needed to be made to protect the endangered species beforehand.