The endangered Asiatic lions in India who were once close to extinction are reviving, according to an Indian ministry report.
The species who once spread from across Asia to North Africa, mostly found in the south-west Indian wildlife reserve, Gir Forest National Park, was declared in critical danger in 2000, owing to hunting and human encroachment on its habitat.
"Our efforts for lion conservation with the support of local people have yielded good results. The number of lions now in Gujarat has reached the 600 mark," Rupani said.
An unofficial count saw a steady rise in the number of lions in the region. Their population is growing at about two percent a year, AP Singh, a state forest and wildlife conservationist, said, according to Channel News Asia.
A 2015 Lion Census indicates a 27 percent rise in lion numbers since 2010. The lion population has steadily increased from 177 in 1968 to 411 in 2010 and 523 in 2015.
Now there are over 600 lions in the area, Gujarat's chief minister Vijay Rupani said, according to Channel News Asia. "Our efforts for lion conservation with support of local people have yielded good results. The number of lions now in Gujarat has reached the 600 mark," Rupani said.
Priyavrat Gadhvi, a member of Gujarat's wildlife board, told the AFP. "There is tremendous support from the local population in Gujarat who are tolerant despite lions attacking their cattle. This is coupled with effective conservation management and skilled staff at ground level."