The Gujarat government has initiated a process to establish a new Shetrunji Wildlife Division outside the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, ensuring the endangered Asiatic lions a bigger safety cover as per a news report in News18.
The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary – the last abode of the Asiatic lions in the world - will see 104 new posts including Deputy Conservator of Forests, two Assistant Conservator of Forests and seven Range Forest Officers and other administrative staff, for the Shetrunji division.
According to a 2015 census, Gir was home to 523 lions. Out of the total 523 Lions, 200 lions were found outside the Sanctuary spread across more than 400 villages in the Amreli and Bhavnagar district.
In recent years, the lions roaming outside the protected areas have faced harassment by people and illegal lion-shows have become a headache for the forest department.
Since, there was no dedicated wildlife division for these areas in Amreli and Bhavnagar district, protection and rescue operations are looked after by the respective social forestry and territorial divisions in addition to their routine work.
The new wildlife division equipped with the needed manpower and infrastructure, the forest department will be able to protect and conserve lions effectively outside the wildlife Sanctuary. The new wildlife division will be headquartered at Palitana town of Bhavnagar district. Seven new wildlife Ranges will be established in this new division which includes Rajula, Jafarabad, Liliya, Mahuva, Jesar, Palitana and Talaja wildlife Range. 30 animal trackers will also be recruited for (on contractual) basis in this new division.