Gujarat: Lion pride ventures on coastal highway
THE TIMES OF INDIA
RAJKOT: A pride of at least seven Asiatic lions attracted several eyeballs as they leisurely crossed the coastal highway between Bhavnagar and Una in Amrelidistrict on Monday. Sources said that the pride was first seen by some locals resting on a hillock near Balani Vav village close to the coastal town of Rajula.
However, as it started raining, the lions gradually began shifting from the hillock towards the highway. The pride then crossed the highway and stayed put in an open ground for a long time. Forest department sources said during monsoon, lions often keep changing places to avoid mosquitoes and other insects.
However, this is not the first time that Asiatic lions have been spotted straying on the state highways, national highways or even the internal roads. Such spotting was rare few years ago.
With the lion population steadily rising, large numbers have ventured out of the Gir Sanctuary and reached up to the coastal areas of adjoining Amreli, Gir-Somnathand Bhavnagar districts. Satellite populations of these critically endangered species are seen sauntering around in the revenue areas, sometimes even venturing into the villages and preying on the domestic cattle.
According to the latest census, there are 523 lions spread over four districts. However, a recent internal lion count by the forest department in July revealed the the presence of nearly 650 lions in the reserved forests and even outside the national park in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts.