Gandhinagar: The Gujarat government on Monday informed the state Assembly that a little less than 300 lions, lionesses and cubs have died in the last two years of natural and unnatural causes in and around the Gir sanctuary.
Replying to questions of various Congress MLAs, Minister of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Kiritsinh Rana, informed the House that a total of 283 lions in Gir, which is the only abode for Asiatic lions in the world, died till December 2021.
During the same period, more than 300 leopards have also died in the state, Rana said.
The minister further informed that 63 lions died of natural causes while five died unnaturally, 57 lionesses died natural deaths while 16 died unnaturally.
Out of the 142 lion cubs which died, 134 died naturally while eight died of unnatural causes.
Replying to a question on what steps have been taken by the government to curb the unnatural deaths of the big cats, the minister said that patrolling is being carried out day and night by the forest department officials.
Joint patrolling is also being carried out in collaboration with the Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited (PGVCL).
As per the 2020 Lion Census, with a 29 per cent rise in population from the previous Census conducted in 2015, there are 674 Asiatic lions in Gujarat.
The state has a total of 206 lions, 309 lionesses, 130 cubs and 29 other unidentified big cats.
Replying to a question by Congress MLA Virji Thummar, Rana informed the House that during the same period, Gujarat saw deaths of 333 leopards, including 242 adults and 91 cubs. Out of that, over 27 per cent or 90 deaths were due to unnatural causes, including that of 23 cubs.
The opposition Congress alleged that the Gir National Park has 376 open wells which have turned into death traps for the animals.