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Gujarat’s Barda WLS Proposed as 2nd Home for Asiatic Lions; 40 Lions Will Be Relocated from Gir National Park

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Second home for Gujarat lions

According to a report entitled “Lion at 2047: A Vision for Amrutkal” prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for the Gujarat government, the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) has been identified as a suitable location for relocating a population of 40 adult and sub-adult Asiatic lions from Gir National Park (NP).

  • Project Proposed: The Gujarat government has recommended the Barda WLS as a second home for Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) in Gujarat, approximately 100 kilometres from their current home at Gir NP.
  • The project has received in-principle approval from the Union government.

WII is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

Barda Wildlife Sanctuary

i.Barda, which was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1979, has since been proposed as an alternative second habitat for lions in Gujarat.

ii.A radio-collared male lion, about three and a half years old, was introduced to the Barda WLS on January 18, 2023.

iii.The last time an Asiatic lion was seen in Barda was over 144 years ago, in 1879.

Gir National Park: Gir NP region is home to the world’s only Asian lion population (700) and the only place outside of the African subcontinent where lions are found in their natural habitat.

Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)

i.Asiatic lions (big cats) can currently be found in 9 districts of Gujarat, including: Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Botad, Porbandar, Jamnagar, and Surendranagar, which are part of the Saurashtra region.

ii.They are spread over a 30,000 square kilometre area known as the Asiatic Lion Landscape.

iii.According to the 2020 census, Gujarat had 674 lions (206 lions, 309 lionesses, 130 cubs, and 29 unidentified big cats), a 29% increase from the 2015 census.


i.Experts have recommended the translocation of lions, in order to prevent the lion population from going extinct in the event of diseases like the Canine Distemper Virus.

ii.The Supreme Court ordered in 2013 that Gujarat needs to relocate some of its lions to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh (MP) to prevent disease or other catastrophes from wiping out the entire population.

iii.The Gujarat government refused to relocate the lions to Kuno National Park in MP, citing issues about their coexistence with the tiger and the climate differences between Gujarat and MP.

Note: It should be noted that 8 cheetahs from Namibia were brought to Kuno National Park in August 2022, and the park welcomed 12 more from South Africa in February 2023.

Project Lion

i.Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Project Lion’ for the long-term conservation of Asiatic lions in India in his Independence Day speech on August 15, 2020.

ii.Project Lion aims to safeguard the Asiatic lion through landscape ecology in Gujarat by integrating conservation and eco-development.

iii.The project is being undertaken in Gir landscape of Gujarat, which is the last habitat of Asiatic lions.

Note: Project Tiger is being implemented in tiger landscapes across India in 53 tiger reserves.

Expected Consequences

i.The Project Lion document also offers voluntary relocation of Maldharis or pastoral groups to establish “inviolate space” for lion habitat of roughly “1000 square kilometres” in Gir and Barda.

  • Maldharis are pastoral communities who live in the Gir Protected Areas and the Barda WLS.

ii.The report also includes offering “an appropriate rehabilitation package for incentivized relocation” to the communities.

Recent Related News:

i.In February 2023, Wildlife enthusiasts and forest officials sighted 145 different bird species during the first-ever Sundarban Bird Festival, organised by the Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR) and South 24 Parganas division of West Bengal Forest Department.

ii.Sundarbans National Park, a National Park, Tiger Reserve and Biosphere Reserve in West Bengal, India, houses the largest population of Bengal Tigers (endangered species).

About Gujarat:

Chief Minister (CM) – Bhupendra Rajnikant Patel
Governor – Acharya Devvrat
Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) – Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary; Rampara WLS
Zoological Park – Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden; Rajkot Municipal Zoo (Pradyuman Zoological Park)