A total of 313 lions, including 152 cubs, have died in 2019 and 2020 in Gujarat, with 23 of the fatalities being from unnatural causes, State Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava said in the Assembly on Friday.
Replying to a query by Congress MLA Virji Thummar, the minister said 154 deaths took place in 2019 and 159 in 2020, and these comprise 90 lionesses, 71 lions and 152 cubs.
“Of the 313 deaths, 23 were due to unnatural causes like falling in open wells or getting hit by vehicles,” he said.
The minister promised action after Mr Thummar claimed some lions were getting infected with viruses from the meat fed to them by the forest department.
Mr Vasava said parapet walls had been built around 43,000 wells near Gir Sanctuary to ensure big cats don’t fall into them, adding that several such conservation efforts had led to the lion population rising 29 per cent from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020.
He informed the House that the Centre had given Rs 108 crore in the last two years for conservation and development activities in the Gir forest region.