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Gir lion census from May 15.

Times of India: April 28, 2002

Lion census at the Gir National Park in the western Indian state of Gujarat, the only abode of the Asiatic lion, will be conducted from May 15 to 17, according to Conservator (Wildlife), Junagadh circle, Bharat Pathak.

With the Indian Board for Wildlife turning down the state forest department's plea to use buffaloes as bait for the lions census, the department has decided to utilise the beat-wise counting method for it, Pathak told PTI on Friday over phone from Junagadh in Gujarat. The counting of lions would be carried out in about 180 beats dotting the Gir forests, with three beat guards assisted by "puggies" (experts in identifying lions' foot-prints) to be pressed into service in each of these beats, he said adding the foresters will supervise this exercise.

The first exercise of the millennium, the census is taking place after a gap of six years, as last year it could not take place due to unseasonal rains. In normal circumstances, the lions census is conducted every five years, Pathak added.

Gir lions kill leopard

Times of India: APRIL 26, 2002

According to reports here on Wednesday, an adult lion was found dead near the Paniya sanctuary in the western Gir region while a lion cub was found dead in the Jamwala range. Also, a leopard was reportedly killed by a pride of lions near the Sasan railway station.

The forest department sources told TNN that the adult lion in the Paniya sanctuary could have died due to old age. It was already 19 years of age. But the attack on the leopard perhaps might be due to lack of food for lions in the Gir sanctuary.

Experts in wildlife say that it is very unusual a pride of lions attacking a leopard, which is considered to be very agile and clever. A leopard could rarely fall into a trap laid by lions.

With the growing shortage of food for these wild animals, attacks on their own breeds have become a common site, say forest department officials. Due to the present heat wave in the Gir jungle, most of the wild animals prefer to take shelter in the shade and move out only during the dusk and dawn.

As a result, the frequency to 'kill' its preys is reduced thereby leading to shortage of food for these wild animals. These animals also have to move long distances in search of water in the jungle. However, the shortage of food for the wild animals was causing concern to the forest department.

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