EXPERTS AND forest officers discussed on challenges facing the lion conservation efforts over the next 50 years and identified a few important areas which will require special focus at the end of a two-day national workshop at Sasan in Junagadh on Tuesday. “At the end of the workshop, the broader consensus was that for efficient conservation of lions over the next 50 years, lion movement areas should be brought under legal regime to the extent possible, staffing should be augmented, there should be a policy on cattle and dogs entering the forest, community participation should be increased and landscape development approach should be adopted,” chief conservator of forests of Junagadh wildlife circle, Aniruddh Pratap Singh, said.
The two-day workshop started on Monday at Sasan, the headquarters of Gir National Park and Sanctuary (GNPS) and concluded on Tuesday as part of the culmination of year-long golden jubilee celebration of Gir sanctuary. Senior forest officers, retired Indian Forest Service Officers and researchers shared their views on the success story of lions conservation in the state over the past 50 years and suggested plans for the next 50 years to strengthen and sustain the conservation regime.
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Retired IFS officer A K Sharma advised forest officers not to consider lions their assets, but their kings and “serve” them as their subordinates and servants. Retired director of GEER Foundation, Bharat Pathak, said that there was no policy on cattle living inside Gir forest and those entering the sanctuary area from outside. He feared that this can sometimes lead to the spread of diseases among the endangered Asiatic lions. Retired additional chief secretary Suresh Pant shared his views on different approaches for future conservation of lions.
Additional principal chief conservator of forests (vigilance), R L Meena, stressed on better coordination among various stakeholders of lion conservation. Deepak Apte, director of Bombay Natural History Society, shed light on the 133-year-long history of nature and wildlife conservation in India. Deputy conservator of forests (DCF), Sandeep Kumar, who served for six years as superintendent of GNPS, stressed on sustainable development of stakeholders.