The Gujarat government declared that people who harassing the Asiatic Lions will now attract the serious penal action under section 9 of the wildlife protection Act 1972.
Harassment covers a wide range of actions including the Chasing lions in vehicles, shooting lions video, organizing illegal lions shows. The government warned all those who caught disturbing the lions can be imprisoned for up to 7 years.
The government also announced the formation of a single authority to manage the 22,000 sq km spread of lion habitat which is currently under the control of four different authorities.
State forest minister Ganpat Vasava said that ” we have directed forest officials to invoke hunting charges against those who trouble the animals Haunting according to the act does not mean killing alone.
It applies to harassment schedule I animals such as lions and tigers. Schedule I animals are given the highest protection Act until now we were imposing only the section pertaining to trespassing against offenders”.
The lion population is 523 according to census 2015. Lion Habitat is spread across 1500 villages in Gir Sanctuary in Junagadh and adjacent districts of amreli Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath, and Porbandar.
To secure the long term conversation of lions the state government has decided to declare a 109 sq km lion conservation reserve in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.
The Gujarat Government faced severe criticism recently after a series of videos showing people pestering lions went viral a few days ago. In this viral video, a lioness is shown being made to beg for chicken which is dangled in front of it during an illegal show.
Earlier videos of youths chasing lions on speeding bikes and cars went viral. Facing censure from various stakeholders chief minister Vijay Rupani Held a meeting on this matter and on Tuesday Vasava declared 13 point conservation plan against people who harassing the lions.