Porbandar has been added to the Asiatic lion: India, the population of Asiatic lions is on the rise, spreading their majestic presence across ten different districts. Previously limited to Junagadh, these royal cats have grown to a sizeable 674 within the state, making their home in places like Amreli, Jamnagar, and Ahmedabad. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, their numbers are increasing by about 5% each year, reaching an estimated 750 in 2022.
In a fantastic nod to the state’s conservation initiatives, a lioness and her cub were recently spotted in Kutiyana, marking Porbandar as the tenth district where Asiatic lions now roam.
Porbandar has been added to the Asiatic lion
Just over 50 years ago, Gujarat hosted a humble 177 lions, all in Junagadh district. Even a short thirteen years back, these top predators, numbering 411 in the 2010 census, stuck to just three districts. More info about Porbandar has been added to the Asiatic lion kingdom, making it span across 10 districts in Gujarat.
Today, the census reports an impressive 674 lions, and they’ve left their footprints in almost all districts of Saurashtra, except Morbi and Devbhumi Dwarka. With an annual population growth of 5%, these lions are expanding their kingdom across ten districts, including Junagadh, Amreli, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Gir-Somnath, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Botad, Ahmedabad, and Surendranagar—a reality that was hard to imagine for conservationists just a couple of decades ago.
These majestic felines are now navigating roads and bridges, weaving through their natural habitat, and coming closer to human settlements like never before. Confirming this trend, a senior forest official stated, “Porbandar is the tenth district to register the presence of lions.”
Back in 1968, the lion population was a mere 177, confined to Gir sanctuary. Until the 1990s, they stayed within Gir and nearby areas. However, a significant shift occurred in 2013 when a young lion explored Kalawad in Jamnagar, necessitating a rescue mission back to Gir. Fast forward to this month, a radio-collared lioness and her cub were seen in Porbandar’s Kutiyana—a first for the region. This lioness was rescued earlier from Pipavav and reintroduced into the wild near Tulsishyam.
More signs of the lions’ exploration include an isolated male lion spotted in Barda Dungar in January. Towards the eastern side of Gir sanctuary, Botad has become their new home. On one occasion, the lions even approached Dhandhuka in Ahmedabad district but returned to Velavadar, where they’ve now settled. More info about Porbandar has been added to the Asiatic lion kingdom, making it span across 10 districts in Gujarat.
While the unofficial lion count for 2022 is 750, experts believe the actual number could be higher. Between 2010 and 2020, the lion population grew by 263. With these incredible creatures venturing into new territories, conservationists suggest creating satellite habitats to accommodate their expanding domains.
Nityanand Srivastava, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), remarked, “The lions are spreading, crossing bridges, highways, and checkdams. We were surprised when a lion entered Porbandar’s Madhavpur Ghed and strolled onto the road dotted with shops and establishments.” According to the forest department, Gujarat’s lion population is expected to surpass 2,600 by 2047, maintaining a 5% annual growth rate. Ministry sources estimate that even with a conservative 3% annual growth, the lion population in Gujarat will exceed 2,500 in the next 25 years.
A senior officer highlighted, “Compared to the previous 1883.04 sq km network of Gir Protected Area, the Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL) now covers around 30,000 sq km in Saurashtra as per the 2020 census. The idea of ALL guides the creation of additional habitats for lions. By 2047, Ahmedabad is expected to become their home.”
Under Project Lion, proposals for satellite habitats include Umath Virdi in Bhavnagar, Gir, Girnar, Mitiyala, Jesor-Hipawadi, Hingolgadh, the coastal belt from Rajula to Jafrabad, and extending up to Mahuva, among others. Conservation zones for lions are also planned in Babra Virdi in Jamnagar-Porbandar and Alech in Devbhumi Dwarka.