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Herbivore census in Gujarat’s Gir forest

Herbivore census in Gujarat’s Gir forest

Tag:  GS 3 ||Environment  || Biodiversity || Animal Diversity

Why In News?

  • Every summer, the Forest Department of Gujarat conducts a Herbivore Census in Gir forest.
  • This year’s exercise is of particular significance because it is the last Herbivore Census ahead of next year’s Lion Census, which is a once-in-five-years exercise.

Herbivore Census

The Herbivore Census covers ungulates such as spotted deer, blue bulls (nilgais), sambars, Indian gazelles (chinkaras), four-horned antelopes (choshinga) and wild boars, as well as Indian langurs and peafowl.

Importance

  • Wild ungulates and langurs are the main prey of Asiatic lions
  • A count provides a sense of the available of the prey base
  • A strong prey base.
  • In 2013-14, the last Herbivore Census herbivores were 1.32 lakh, higher than the about 1.25 lakh counted in 2012-13.

Why it’s done in summer?

  • During summer, foliage is reduced to a minimum
  • Also, wild animals concentrate around water points
  • The forest is divided into 19 routes and forest divisions for the census.

Population trend in recent years?

  • Since 1974, the population of herbivorous in Gir forest has been on the rise.
  • In 2013, the population of ungulates was estimated to be 1,26,893 or 76.49 animals per square kilometres.
  • That translates to 8000 kg of biomass available to carnivorous, very close to the levels in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
  • The population of ungulates was 1,07,172 in 2010.

 Asiatic Lion Conservation in India

  • Asiatic lions that once ranged from Persia (Iran) to Palamau in Eastern India were almost driven to extinction by indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss.
  • A single population of less than 50 lions persisted in the Gir forests of Gujarat by late 1890’s.
  • IUCN Red List Status: Endangered
  • With timely and stringent protection offered by the State Government and the Center Government, Asiatic lions have increased to the current population of over 500 numbers.
  • The last census in the year 2015 showed the population of 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir Protected Area Network of 79 sq. km. that includes Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary adjoining reserved forests, Protected Forests, and Unclassed Forests.

Additional Info -Gir National Park

  • Gir is the only natural habitat of world popular Asiatic Lions.
  • Gir Forest National Park is a wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat.
  • It was established to protect Asiatic lions, leopards and antelopes.
  • The seven major perennial rivers of the Gir region are Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari and Raval.
  • The four reservoirs of the area are at four dams, one each on Hiran, Machhundri, Raval and Shingoda rivers, including the biggest reservoir in the area, the Kamleshwar Dam, dubbed ‘the lifeline of Gir’.
  • More than 400 plant species were recorded in the survey of Gir forest by Samtapau & Raizada in 1955.
  • According to the 1964 forest type classification by Champion & Sheth, the Gir forest falls under “very dry teak forest” classification. Teak occurs mixed with dry deciduous species

Additional References

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/herbivore-census-gir-asiatic-lion-5726060/

Mains  Question

Explain Asiatic Lion Conservation Project.