The population of the majestic Asiatic Lion, once faced with imminent extinction, has increased by 29 percent to 674 in Gujarat's Gir forest region. The department carried out a "population estimation exercise" on the night of June 5 and June 6 when there was a full moon. The exercise was undertaken as the five-yearly census could not be carried out in May due to the coronavirus outbreak. If we talk about the May 2015 census, there were 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir, an increase of 27 percent from 2010.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praises on Gujarat for the "excellent feat." He said the lion population in Gujarat has been steadily rising, powered by community participation, emphasis on technology, wildlife healthcare, proper habitat management, and steps to minimize human-lion conflict. "Hope this positive trend continues," the prime minister further said.
As per the latest data available, the population of Asiatic Lions has shown a steady increase with a population of 674 individuals with an increased rate of 28.87 percent, one of the highest growth rate so far from the previous growth of 27 percent during 2015 (523 lions). The distribution of the lions has increased from an area of 22,000 sq. km in 2015 to 30,000 sq. km in 2020, thus increasing the distribution area by 36 percent.
The data revealed that there has been a consistent increase in the population and distribution area of Asiatic Lions mainly owing to the effective conservation and management by the Gujarat Forest Department. Chief wildlife warden said that multiple strategies and interventions have been implemented in the Asiatic Lion Landscape that have majorly contributed to the current conservation success of the Asiatic Lions viz. people's participation, use of modern technology, wildlife healthcare including as import of CDV vaccine, habitat management, increase in prey base, human-lion conflict mitigation, etc.