If you follow the news or just the Prime Minister on twitter you might be aware of the 29% rise in the number of Asiatic Lions in India. The Asiatic lion which has its habitat limited to the Gir sanctuary in Gujarat is an endangered species. It was not long ago that concern related to the extinction of the endangered species surfaced on the internet. For the same reason, the sudden surge in the number of Lions from 523 to 674 came as a relief.
But the question remains on how this major change happened in the first place. We are going to explore the possibilities and let you decide for yourself.
A study that surfaced the internet on 20th May suggested that the Indian lions are at the risk of extinction due to genetic diversity. Prior to that, there were numerous incidents of lion deaths being reported. Could it be possible that the numbers were forged to avoid such negative media? We don’t know for sure, but that is certainly a possibility considering that census wasn’t held this time. Unlike the traditional approach of physically counting the number of lions which was transparent, due to the involvement of 2,000 experts, officers, and volunteers. This time ‘lion observation’ was conducted by 1,200 forest staff and some experts. The cancellation of census and introduction of observation was a preventive method for COVID-19, but has this given a free pass to authorities to overestimate the population?
We are not suggesting that population growth of 161 is an unattainable goal, it could be achieved. Considering the news to be true, let us examine what could have been the favourable factors for this good news. One reason could be the increase in area GIR forest from 22,000 sq km in 2015 to 30,000 sq km in 2020 and the measures taken by the Government and the forest department to ensure the health of the animals. Also, community participation and measures to minimise human-lion conflict is an important factor. Another major reason behind this sudden surge of lion numbers could be COVID-19.
The lockdown put into place due to the pandemic resulted in improvement in the climate and animal life. Due to limited human disruption, the pollution levels are decreasing every day, this favourable climate could have been a factor behind the welfare and reproduction of the wild species. COVID also ensured that not only human-lion conflict is minimised, but abolished.
So, COVID-19 the “BAD NEWS” played an important part in this “Good News”. Maybe by helping to establish the entire premise of this news or just act as a supporting factor.