Wild lovers across the nation look forward to getting the Gir Safari booking done at least once in a lifetime. The dense forest of Gir, situated in Junagadh district of Gujarat, is currently the only abode for the Royal Asiatic lions. Every year, many travelers visit this place from different corners of the world to enjoy the Gir Lion Safari. They get a chance of witnessing the royal beast roaming in their natural habitat.
For the past few years, Asiatic Lions in Gir Lion Safari have to encounter severe illness or infection, which are, in most cases taking their lives. The Gujarat High Court had appointed officials to investigate the reason behind these alarming ailments of the lions. The report stated that some of the poor big cats died of CDV (Canine Distemper Virus, a range of wild animals get infected by this virus), while some were tested with a protozoan infection, transmitted by ticks. Infighting has also been detected as a vital cause of deaths of the lions.
The deaths have again brought the matter to the fore, which was a demand of the wildlife activists for years, to move at least some of the lions from the Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary to the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. Applying this process has become as essential, as this will probably help the forest authority avoid the kinds of deaths taking place around several zones of the Gir Forest map.
In April 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the Union Government to translocate some of the Lions of Gir Forest to Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary. The report said that the Asiatic Lions were vulnerable to extinction because of existing in a single sub-population if any unpredictable event such as a big forest-fire or epidemic would have taken place. “An outbreak of a possible epidemic or natural calamity might wipe off the entire species. A smaller population with limited genetic strength is more vulnerable to diseases and other catastrophes in comparison to large and widespread population,” the Supreme Court stated.
But the Gujarat Government had shown one after another reason to restrict any of the lions being taken away from the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. According to the state government, the royal beasts were “Gujarat’s Pride”. Bhikhu Batawala (lion conservation activist) considered the matter to be ‘purely political’, while a conservation biologist named Ravi Chellam revealed that “some translocation projects are discussed a lot”. “But translocation happens almost daily as part of our wildlife management for a vast range of species in India, which is not well known”, he added. Despite all the debates and discussions, Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had declared that the lions were “completely safe” in the Gir Forest, and they need not be relocated.