Ninety-two Asiatic lions have died, including 83 of natural death, in the past two years in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region while there has been no case of poaching.

In a written reply to a question asked by Congress MLA from Lathi, Bavku Unghad, Minister of State for Forest and Environment, Govind Patel, told the State Assembly recently that nine lions died of accidents, including by falling in open wells.

As per the Government data, 46 lions died in 2011 and 2012 each. Out of the total, 43 were cubs, 29 female and 20 male felines.

“There was no incident of poaching in any part of the State,” Patel said.

Drinking water shortage

On the same issue, Amreli Congress MLA Paresh Dhanani raised concerns of scarcity of drinking water in Saurashtra region and pointed out that because of it, lions were found moving away from the sanctuary area in and around Sasan Gir.

He wanted to know from the Government if it has any plans to stop ‘outward migration’ of lions from this area.

“At present, there is no such situation which forces the lions to leave the forest areas,” Patel replied.

In another written reply to a question asked by Talala Congress MLA Jasu Barad, the Minister said that as per the Census conducted in 2010, there were 411 lions in the State.

During the question hour last Friday, Patel said: “Though Asiatic lions are only found in Gujarat and the State has been considered a home for it, the Central Government has never included lions in any of the promotional materials for tourism in India.’’

“While the Gujarat Government has been making its own efforts to promote tourism in the State, including a film called ‘Khushbu Gujarat Ki’ showing Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan promoting the State, Congress leaders here are criticising it as a waste of money,” he said.