Asiatic lion spotted in Gujarat’s Barda for 1st time since 1879
Barda Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1979 and has long been projected as a second home for lions in Gujarat
An Asiatic lion has been spotted in Gujarat’s Barda for the first time since 1879, forest officials said and added the wildlife sanctuary developed there in the 1970s is now conducive for carnivores as its vegetation, the population of herbivorous and availability of water has improved.
The sanctuary has long been projected as a second home for the lions in Gujarat, about 100 kilometers from Gir National Park. Around half of Gujarat’s 674 Asiatic lions— about 325 to 350—lived in Gir spread over 1,412 square kilometres, according to a 2019 census.
Principal chief forest conservator Nityanand Shrivastava on Thursday confirmed that the lion has been spotted in Barda after around 144 years. “The vegetation has improved in the area and so has the population of herbivorous. With the availability of water, Barda is a conducive place for carnivores.”
Shrivastava said it was, however, too early to call Barda a second or alternative home for lions in Gujarat.
The lion was first spotted in October in the Madhavpur Range of the Porbandar wildlife division. It crossed over to Barda after spending nearly three months in coastal forests and wastelands. The lion was radio-collared on October 29 to monitor its movements.
Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani, who is a part of Gir National Park’s advisory committee, said the male lion aged over three entered Barda on January 18. “The lion was sighted in Mota Jungle Beat in Ranavav Range of Porbandar Wildlife division,” he said in a statement. “A radio-collared male lion spotted...shows that the pride of Gujarat and India has found a new and a second home...”
The population of Asiatic lions has more or less stabilised in Gir National Park.
Nathwani said Barda has been identified and assessed as a potential site for 40 adult and sub-adult lions in the larger landscape of hills and coastal forests.