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Lioness Jessica blesses UP with four more cubs

twitter-logoPTI | June 27, 2019 | Updated 17:24 IST

Etawah (UP), Jun 27 (PTI) A lioness in Etawah Lion Safari here has given birth to four cubs, taking the number of the wild cat to 12 there. Lioness Jesicca was blessed with four cubs on Wednesday night, said an elated Sfari Director B K Singh Thursday, adding all necessary precautions and care are being taken to keep the cubs and their mother safe. Extra precaution is being taken in view of the severe heat wave condition, said Singh, adding the lioness had been shifted to an air conditioned chamber three months ago. Special arrangemets have been made for the lioness' diet as well, he said. Jessica is doing well and taking care of her cubs, said Singh, adding the gender of the newborn cubs is yet to be ascertained. It's for the third time that a lioness has given birth in the safari, he added. Lioness Jessica, brought here from Gir National Park in December 2015, soon after her arrival here had given birth to three cubs - Sultan, Shimba and Bahubali -- earlier also. The birth of four cubs have brought special cheers to the safari, which has witnessed deaths of 10 lions, including four cubs, since 2014. The Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat is the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world. As per the last 2015 census, there were around 523 lions in Gujarat, mainly in the forest areas of Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts. Asiatic lions which were once found in abundance from Persia (Iran) to Palamau in India's Jharkhand have almost been driven to extinction due to indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss. The Union Environment Ministry has launched 'Asiatic Lion Conservation Project' aimed at protecting the world's last free-ranging population of the species and its ecosystem. The project is aimed at strengthening ongoing measures for the conservation and recovery if endangered wild cats' species with the help of state-of-the-art techniques, instruments, regular scientific research and studies, disease management, modern surveillance and patrolling methods. Less than 50 lions had survived in the Gir forests of Gujarat by late 1890s, the ministry had said earlier, adding, "With timely and stringent protection offered by the state government and the Centre, Asiatic lions have increased to the current population of over 500." According to the 2015 census, there were 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir Protected Area Network spread over 1648.79 sq km, comprising Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary adjoining reserved forests, Protected Forests, and unclassed forests. The ministry has already included Asiatic Lion in Gujarat in the list of 21 critically endangered species for recovery programme and financial assistance under the species recovery component of Centrally Sponsored Scheme - Development of Wildlife Habitat. The project activities are envisaged for habitat improvement, scientific interventions, disease control and veterinary care supplemented with adequate eco-development works for the fringe population in order to ensure a stable and viable lion population in the country. PTI COR SAB SMI RAX RAX

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