Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Asiatic Lion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Poonam Awalokan

Mains level : Man-Animal conflict

Asiatic lions have now significantly risen in number at an estimated population of 674 in the Gir forest region of Gujarat. Unlike in previous years, this count was estimated not from a Census, but from a population “observation” exercise called Poonam Avlokan.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q. The term ‘M-STrIPES’ is sometimes seen in the news in the context of

(a) Captive breeding of Wild Fauna

(b) Maintenance of Tiger Reserves

(c) Indigenous Satellite Navigation System

(d) Security of National Highways

Asiatic Lion

  • Indian Lion (Panthera Leo Persica) is listed as Endangered and exists as a single population in Gujarat.
  • It is one of five big cat species found in India and Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only habitat for Asiatic lions.
  • Historically, it inhabited much of Western Asia and the Middle East up to northern India.
  • On the IUCN Red List, it is listed under its former scientific name Panthera leo persica as Endangered because of its small population size and area of occupancy.
  • More than two dozen lions died last year in an outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV) and Babesiosis.

What is Poonam Avlokan?

It includes two methods:

  • Block counting method — in which census enumerators remain stationed at water points in a given block and estimate abundance of lions in that block, based on the direct sighting of lions who need to drink water at least once in 24 hours during the summer.
  • Other teams keep moving in their respective territories and make their estimates based on inputs provided by lion trackers and on chance sightings.

Back2Basics: Lion Census in India

  • The first Lion Census was conducted by the Nawab of Junagadh in 1936; since 1965, the Forest Department has been regularly conducting the Lion Census every five years.
  • The 6th, 8th and 11th Censuses were each delayed by a year, for various reasons.
  • This year it was postponed after the lockdown was announced.

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