Our special correspondent and PTI
Sasan Gir, May 10: The Asiatic lion population has gone up by 112 to 523 - a piece of good news that has prompted the Gujarat government to show the claws to neighbour Madhya Pradesh.
Quoting the five-year lion census figures, Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel said: "The neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh also carried out a tiger census according to which the number of tigers declined. I am sure that our Prime Minister will look into it."
The state governments of MP and Gujarat, both run by the BJP, have been fighting a legal battle on translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat's Gir sanctuary to the Kuno Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh
Narendra Modi, then Gujarat chief minister and the current Prime Minister, had filed a curative petition challenging the Supreme Court order, but it was rejected in June last year.
The issue is pending before the Supreme Court after a Rajkot-based non-governmental organisation called the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WTC) challenged the translocation order.
Chief minister Patel said the male lion population was estimated to be 109, almost half of the 201 lionesses. The number of cubs is estimated to be 213. The 2010 census had counted 97 male lions, 162 lionesses and 152 cubs, totalling 411.
The lions' habitat area has increased to 22,000 square kilometres, which has almost doubled in five years, Gir Sanctuary superintendent Sandeep Kumar said.
The census, which began in May 1 and ended on May 5, is said to the largest in terms of area covered and personnel involved. More than 2,500 forest officials and volunteers, including 11 wildlife experts, were appointed as observers this time.