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New postage stamps highlight Asian lions:

Times of India October 4th 1999

The Vice President of India, Shri Krishan Kant released a set of four postage stamps on the 'Asiatic Lion', here today. Issued by the Department of Posts to focus attention on the need to protect wildlife, in particular, the much diminished population of Asiatic Lions, three of the stamps are in the denomination of Rs.3/- and another in Rs.15/-.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Krishan Kant stressed the need for expeditiously redressing the problems related to man-and-animal conflict and said that we shall need to pool all our energies and efforts to find a solution to the vexing problem without losing time. He stated that we shall have to imaginatively plan for the future while doing what is in our hands, efficiently and well. The Minister of Environment and Forests, Shri Suresh P. Prabhu and the Secretary, Department of Posts was also present on the occasion. The set of stamps forms part of the worldwide Fund for Nature, Conservation Stamp Collection. Through the issue, the Department of Posts, draws attention to India's long tradition and abiding faith in conservation of nature, and the need to have conservation education at formal and non-formal levels, through teaching institutions, media, voluntary agencies and movements for public awareness. The Asiatic Lion once upon a time had wide distribution covering Mesopotamia, Arabia, Persia and major parts of northern and central India. However, over-hunting and disturbance in its habitat due to agriculture, the disappearance of open grass and scrub forest lands led to its wide ranging extinction from all areas except the Gir Forest in Saurashtra in Gujarat. At the turn of this century there were very few lions left, when the erstwhile ruler of the Junagadh state, imposed strict protection measures, including a ban on trophy hunting. Conservation of wildlife measures, after independence, steps taken by the Government for management, protection and improvement of habitat of the Gir Lion Sanctuary, have led the population of these Lions to stabilize around 280. The species of the Asiatic Lion has been saved, and its habitat, in fact the entire Eco-systems restored to health. The Gir forest is the last refuge of the Asiatic Lion in the world, other than those protected in various zoos.

The First Day Cover along with the information sheet is available on sale at all Philatelic Bureaus /Counters and at selected Post Offices.

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