Source: The post is based on the article “Why the famous Gir lion is hanging out by the beach” published in TOI on 28th September 2022
What is the News?
The coastal population of Asiatic lions in Gir, Gujarat has increased by 395% in 10 years.
Asiatic Lion Population in Gujarat
According to the 2020 census, Gujarat has 674 Asiatic lions against 523 in 2015. Of these, 104 live on the Saurashtra coast; these include 17 lions along the Bhavnagar coast which has been developed as a satellite habitat for the Gir lion.
In just 10 years, the coastal population has grown from 21 to 104, an increase of 395%.
An internal count of the department shows that in 2022, the number would be close to 130.
Why has the lion population increased along the coast?
Since the lion population in the state is increasing, they are now spreading across Saurashtra’s landscape.
Lions also seem to have adapted to the coastal climate. A study has revealed that casuarina equisetifolia plant (Saru plant) was found in abundance in coastal areas. These plants reduce the temperature by 3-4 degrees making the place conducive for lions.
The other reason for lions moving to new territories is infighting. For instance, once a subadult lion reaches the age of four, it is kicked out of the group. Along with other subadults, it carves out its own territory and pushes older lions out of the area. So, the big cats then venture out to search for new territories.