The geographical distribution area of these lions has also gone up substantially.

The population of Asiatic Lions in Gujarat’s Gir Forest has gone up to 674, a substantial jump of 151 from the 2015 census number of 523. This is an increase of nearly 29%.

At the same time, the distribution area of these lions geographically has gone up by 36% compared to the last census.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took to Twitter on Wednesday to share the development, credited community participation as one of the key factors for this growth.

In a post, Prime Narendra Modi said:

“Two very good news:

Population of the majestic Asiatic Lion, living in Gujarat’s Gir Forest, is up by almost 29%.

Geographically, distribution area is up by 36%.

Kudos to the people of Gujarat and all those whose efforts have led to this excellent feat.”

“Over the last several years, the Lion population in Gujarat has been steadily rising. This is powered by community participation, emphasis on technology, wildlife healthcare, proper habitat management and steps to minimise human-lion conflict. Hope this positive trend continues!” the Prime Minister said in a subsequent tweet.

An official statement issued by the Gujarat government’s Forest and Environment Department said that the population of Asiatic Lions had shown a steady increase with a population of 674 individuals with an increase rate of 28.87%. This is one of the highest growth rates so far, up from the previous growth of 27% during 2015 (523 lions).

The distribution of the lions had increased from an area of 22000 sq. km in 2015 to 30000 sq. km in 2020 thus increasing the distribution area by 36%.

“There has been a consistent increase in the population and distribution area of Asiatic Lions mainly owing to the effective conservation and management by the Gujarat Forest Department,” the statement pointed out.

According to the department, the conservation success of the Asiatic Lions was the result of multiple strategies and interventions, including:

People’s participation

Use of modern technology

Wildlife healthcare

Habitat management

Increase in the prey base

According to figures released by the department, the number of Asiatic Lions has steadily increased from 284 in 1990 to 674 in 2020. The corresponding increase in lion distribution area is from 6,600 sq km to 30,000 sq km.

Once faced with imminent extinction, the Asiatic lion has shown a population recovery which has been acclaimed as a global conservation success story.

According to the government, this has been due to the timely intervention by the erstwhile Nawab of Junagadh and protection regimes of the Gujarat Forest Department in the post-Independence era.