Forest department augmenting prey base with translocation so sanctuary can sustain lions | Ahmedabad News – Times of India

Forest department augmenting prey base with translocation so sanctuary can sustain lions
Barda wildlife sanctuary (Gujarat Tourism X handle)

AHMEDABAD: The Barda wildlife sanctuary, which has recently seen the presence of lions, has a lion prey density of about 15 animals per sq km. The greatest density is that of wild pig, with 10.77 animals per sq km, followed by nilgai (3.5) and spotted deer (0.62).
These figures are from a recent study on prey availability for lions at Barda wildlife sanctuary.The study recommends translocating certain key prey species – spotted deer and sambar- into the sanctuary, to make it more hospitable for lions. The state government recently translocated 23 spotted deer into Barda.
One of the researchers said, “The density of 15 prey animals per sq km is fairly good. With the introduction of more prey animals, this can be increased and make Barda the best possible second home for lions.”
The study, “Assessment of wild prey of mammalian carnivores in Barda wildlife sanctuary, Gujarat, India” by Mohan Ram, Aradhana Sahu, Nityanand Srivastava, Rohit Chaudhary, Lahar Jhala, and Yashpal Zala, reported a total of 556 encounters with six wild prey species in Barda Sanctuary, in a sample strip of area.
The species with most encounters were the Indian peafowl (411), followed by nilgai (48), hare (44), wild pig (28), spotted deer (22) and sambar (3). The figures from the sample strip were extrapolated for the rest of the sanctuary.
The paper estimates the absolute animal numbers at Barda to be 673 nilgais, 2,057 wild pigs, 119 spotted deer, 9,925 Indian peafowl and 582 hares.
The paper states that among the nilgai, there were 71.42% adult females, 20.71% adult males, 3.57% subadults and 4.28% were fawns. In wild pig, adult males made up 24.31%, females 46.23%, subadults 6.84% and piglets 22.60%.
The paper noted that the density of nilgais in Barda was lower than that of wild pigs. Barda wildlife sanctuary covers 192.31 sq km and has undulating terrain and woodland habitat with sparse open forest only on its edges. “These ecological conditions may have contributed to the comparatively low density of nilgai in Barda,” the paper noted.
The paper suggested that an increase in the population of nilgai and wild pigs may support the sustenance of Asiatic lions in the future. “However, it is also important to assess factors governing the populations of spotted deer and sambar, which are crucial prey species for large carnivores such as lions, leopards and striped hyenas in Barda.”
The forest department has undertaken measures to augment the wild prey base at Barda by translocating spotted deer and sambar from the Gir Protected Area. The department is using the Boma technique to capture these herbivores, which significantly reduces anxiety during the capture process. This method has been successfully used to translocate various wild animals. “These measures will help in long-term conservation of Asiatic lions and other large predators at Barda,” a forest official said.

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