Gandhinagar, March 23 -The state’s wildlife map is all set to change, now that the state Forest Department is carving out a new wildlife circle for north Gujarat, expanding the Junagadh based Gir Wildlife circle in line with the Greater Gir Project.
Besides helping the department focus on lion conservation in Gir, the creation of the new circle would also create a dedicated staff for the upkeep of the wildlife in the Little Rann of Kutch, Nalsarovar, and the sanctuaries of Banaskantha and Sabarkantha, say officials.
For Greater Gir, some areas in Bhavnagar frequented by lion prides are likely to be declared conservation reserves, while the Girnar forest belt in the foothills of Girnar mountains in Junagadh could be declared a sanctuary.
“Things are being worked out and it may take some time,” says Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Pradeep Khanna.
The new move by the Forest Department comes in the wake of the setting up of a task force in the aftermath of lion poaching incidents in Gir last year. The department had felt that resources in the Gir sanctuary were getting overstretched over an unmanageably large area and that a focused approach, backed adequately with technology, was the need of the hour.
Now the department has carved out north Gujarat as a separate area for better forest management. Eleven new posts, including that of a Conservator of Forests, would be created for upgrading the national parks and sanctuaries in north Gujarat area. These include the Little Rann of Kutch (wild ass sanctuary), Nalsarovar and Thol (bird sanctuaries), and possibly the Jessore (sloth bear) and Balaram Parks.
The step also gains significance in the backdrop of the recent violence between the local tribal population and the police that left two dead and more than a dozen injured in the Sabarkantha area.
As per recommendations of the task force, a provision of Rs 4.61 crore has been made for the use of modern technology for the conservation of wildlife in the sanctuaries. It includes the cost of engaging a consultant for the development of specifications, system requirement study, development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) database, and control room applications along with hardware and software.
While the ground staff in the Gir sanctuary would be provided with geo-communications handheld field units, a Gir Management Cell would be set up for the implementation of special measures in the lion specific areas of Saurashtra.