Iron fences put up by owners of private farms on the periphery of Gir forest in India’s Gujarat state are cutting off passage for Asiatic lions and choking their natural corridor.
With their natural corridors blocked, the lions tend to stray into areas of human habitation and even on to the main roads, Times of India reported, citing wildlife experts who discussed the issue during a two-day national workshop on `Conservation of Asiatic lions in Gujarat and initiatives for future management’ held at Sasan Gir.
“Large number of farm houses are being constructed and most of them have an average eight feet high fencing around Gir forest and in greater Gir where lions are moving. Lions have been using these space as their natural corridors to move from one area to another. Many farms are spread in hundreds of acres land and are fenced. This is a serious issue in lion conservation,” said Rohit Vyas, member Gujarat State Wildlife Advisory Board.
AK Sharma, former IFS officer, endorsed the idea and said that the fencing should be for demarcation purpose only . The fencing can be built as a stone wall too. “Ironically , forest depart ment provides subsidy to far mers to protect their crops from wild animals,” Sharma said.
Giving an ex ample of one such big fencing area, a senior forest officer told TOI that a senior political lea der of Saurashtra has acquired 1,200 bigha land near Jesar in Bhavnagar, which is a major lion corridor towards Ranigala area. The entire area is fenced. “Naturally , lions will have to choose other routes which could be through human habitat or roads,” he said.
The Ambardi interpretation zone is an example where 400 reserved forest land is fenced.