The Asiatic lion population has seen a steady increase in Gir sanctuary, as stated by Mr Vijay Rupani, chief minister of Gujarat. An unofficial count conducted recently showed the total count of the felines to have reached 600, which is an approximate ten percent increase from the 523 lions of the 2015 census. The Asiatic lions are found present in only one forest area in India – the Gir sanctuary and are fighting on the brink of extinction since the 1960s when there was a total of 180 of the species the world over. This led to conservation efforts which paid off and resulted in a raise of numbers, prompting surveyors and conservationists to change their assessment of the Asiatic lion’s status to endangered in 2008. The next official census is scheduled in 2020. Priyavrat Gadhvi, member of the wildlife board in Gujarat gave credit to conservation schemes, well-trained staff and vets as well as help from the tolerant villagers and farmers for the recovery in numbers. While there is fresh hope for the fate of the big cats, conservationists recommend the relocation of some of the current population to another sanctuary to avoid total extinction due to human-animal conflict, disease or natural disaster.

— As reported by The Economic Times

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