Gir lions have maximum exchange value
THE TIMES OF INDIA
AHMEDABAD: Asiatic lions are in high demand in zoos across the globe, and Gujarat being the only abode of the endangered species is at a greater advantage. The exclusivity of the Asiatic lions has helped Sakkarbaug Zoological Park in Junagadh get more species and animals in exchange of a few lions.
In last two years, the zoo has got 104 animals in exchange of 24 lions. Being one of the oldest and largest zoos in the country, Sakkarbaug zoo houses 1,300 animals of 114 species. Spread over 81.81 hectares, the zoo is located near mountainous hills of Girnar.
Recently, Sakkarbaug zoo gave three lions (one male and two females) to Prague zoo in Czech Republic and will get 15 animals in exchange. These will include five wallabies, three caracals and three green peafowls among others.Sakkarbaug zoo will soon get seven animals including a pair of African cheetahs from London zoo in exchange of one pair of Asiatic lion.
In 2009, the zoo got four African cheetahs from Sing apore zoo under animal exchange programme. However, three of them died due to various reasons and only one female survived.
"Asiatic lions are in great demand from zoos across the world. Of late, zoos are emphasising on pure breed species and Sakkarbaug zoo is one place where one can find pure breed of Asi atic lions. This gives us an upp er hand while bargaining for more species and animals in exchange for a pair of Asiatic lion," said A P Singh, chief conservator of forests, (wildlife), Junagadh circle.
According to International Studbook of Asiatic lions (2013), there are 263 Asiatic lions in various zoos across the globe, especially those in European countries. According to International Studbook of Asia tic lions (2013), there are 263 Asiatic lions in various zoos across the globe, especially those in European countries.
The lions can be found in UK (22), France (18), Germany (11), Poland (5), and countries like Russia, Israel, Singapore, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy , Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Estonia, Denmark, Belgium and Finland among other countries.
Sakkarbaug Zoo, established in 1863 by the then Nawab of Junagadh state, is mandated by Central Zoo Authority to coordinate breeding of Asiatic lions. The zoo plays an important role in conservation of various species including Asiatic lions. "Sakkarbaug Zoo is nodal agency for Asiatic lions gene pool project," said S J Pandit, director, Sakkarbaug Zoo.
"We are providing founder animals (lions) to zoos across European countries to avoid inbreeding and maintain gene diversity ," he said.