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Ten percent of the endangered asiatic lions are lost to open wells...

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asiatic-lion.jpgOur friend Kishore Kotecha from the Wildlife Conservation Trust has contributed a post about the horrible circumstances facing the endangered Asiatic Lions. At the rate these beautiful animals are dying, we may not be able to see them in their natural habitat in the not so distant future.

CALL OF THE KING: The Importance of Asiatic Lions

The Gir forest, located in Gujarat (India), is the last home of rarest species of Asiatic Lion. It is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. In the beginning of 19th century when there were about 20 lions in the wild, efforts made by the Nawab (King) of Gir saved them from extinction. Today, in spite of vigorous conservation efforts of the Gujarat Forest Department, the lion population is only at 359. Do we want our children to see these beautiful cats only in a Museum or Zoo?

Asiatic Lion face many threats like congestion, roads & religious places inside the forest, loss of habitat, man-animal conflict, genetic bottle-neck and poaching. But man made open-wells is the most severe threat that the species faces today. It is unbelievable but true that from 2001 until May 2008, 53 Open Well incidences were recorded in which 28 lions died! That number represents almost 10% of total population!

Open wells are deep pits; 60 to 100 feet deep, without parapets or boundary walls. They are dug by farmers as a source of water for irrigation and livestock. Most of the farmers in Gir are poor with very small land holdings. Hence most of them cannot afford to barricade their wells.asiatic_lion_open_well.jpg

Why do the Animals fall into Open Wells? Lions and other wild animals regularly stray outside the forest due to over-crowding and are in regular search of food. There are more than 9000 open-wells in 6km periphery surrounding the Gir Forest. Most of these wells are hidden in the thick vegetation. These wells also become slippery on the edge because of soil erosion. Wild animals like Lions, Leopards, Crocodiles, Pythons and Deer accidentally fall into such open-wells and die due to drowning. Apart from wild animals even domestic cattle and sometimes small children of the poor laborers fall into Open Wells.

Rescue Operations

The Gir Forest is a big area with poor internal roads. Thus, it is not always possible to reach the incidence spot and successfully rescue the animal. Rescued animals are seriously injured and sometimes permanently disabled. In some cases, they are not fit to be released back into the wild. One such rescued lion lost its vision and spent the rest of its natural life in a zoo in blindness.

What needs to be done?

The time has come to act fast. We need to barricade all the Open Wells as soon as possible. With a small donation of money per well, you can prevent the needless death and injury of these highly endangered animals.

An Appeal

asiatic_lion_open_well2.jpgThe time has come for us to help these precious animals. Let us leave no stone unturned in our commitment to save the last surviving Asiatic Lions in the world. I heartily appeal to everyone to generously help us in our endeavour.

Please download full presentation from www.asiaticlion.org/openwell.pps. For further information and help please contact: Kishore Kotecha, Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mob: +91 98240 62062 info@asiaticlion.org

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