Nearly 30 Asiatic lions, who went untraceable after June's heavy rains that claimed the lives of 10 felines, have been sighted in Gir forest area
of Gujarat's Amreli district, said a senior forest official.
"These lions were missing after the torrential rains on June 22 that killed at least 10 of them. They were recently sighted on the hills of Bhavadi and Hogoliya and surrounding area of Shetrunji river in Gir forest under Amreli district.
Three missing lions were traced this morning," said Deputy Conservator of Forest M R Gurjar.
"The teams of trackers started visiting these areas after the missing report of lions and located the big cats on hills and surrounding areas of Gir forest, the sole home of the Asiatic lions," he said.
About 40 lions were living near the banks of Shetrunji river in Liliya-Krakach area. "Since the water level in Shetrunji river near Liliya-Krakach was high on June 22, the lions might have migrated to nearby villages," Gurjar said. "Ten lions were swept away in the swelling Shetrunji river after the flood. Their carcasses were later recovered," he said.
"The staff of the state forest department, animal activists and villagers had launched a search for the missing lions and found them roaming safely in their territory, killing their preys in the surrounding areas," Gurjar said.
"The Gir National Park has lot of elevations and hills where the lions retreat when there is flood. Now we will be taking help of around 200 local people to drive away lions to hilly areas in case of warning of heavy rains, as a precautionary measure," he said.
The devastating flood had swept away a large number of domestic cattle, herbivorous wild animals like blue bulls, chittal, blackbucks and other prey base of lions.
Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani said Gir lions have a strong case to be the national animal.
"Our national emblem too contains the figures of lions, which itself makes a strong case for lion as the national animal," Nathwani said adding that would continue his drive for the the cause of Gir lions.
The MP had earlier requested the Railways to take steps for the safety of lions roaming on the 45-km rail tracks passing through the Gir forest area which is used for movement of goods trains from Palitana to Surendranagar.
At least seven cubs of lions were killed on this railway track this year.