- The forest department of Gujarat will be conducting a census of herbivores in Gir forest and other protected areas.This Census comes ahead of next year’s Asiatic Lion Census which is conducted once-in-five-year.
- The census is conducted during summer as foliage is reduced to its minimum levels in dry and deciduous tropical forests like Gir.Such a forest affords the best opportunity to spot maximum number of wild animals in the forest.
- The census covers wild ungulates like spotted deer, blue bulls (nilgais), sambars, Indian gazelles (chinkaras), four-horned antelopes (choshinga) and wild boars.Further,the forest department will also count Indian langurs as well as peafowl.
- Wild ungulates and langurs are the main prey of Asiatic lions.A count of ungulates gives the forest department an idea of the availability of prey-base for the top predator lions as well as other predators like leopards, hyenas, wolves.
- Such a count also helps the forest department to notice any changes in the food availability for lions and also indicates the health of the forest in general and of fauna in particular.
- Since 1974,the population of herbivorous in Gir forest has been on the rise.In 2013,the population of ungulates was estimated to be 1,26,893 or 76.49 animals per square kilometre.
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