The Gir National Park was home to 523 lions in 2015. And in a world where endangered species generally just get extinct, Gir’s 600 lions in 2018 is a major contradiction.
And the credit for such growth in their population could be given to the Maldhari tribe that lives on the forest grounds, in harmony with the lions.
According to the Times of India, a study by the Wildlife Institute of India, the lions and the Maldhari tribes live in a ‘win-win’ situation.
A major portion of the everyday diet of the lions comes from the livestock owned by the Maldharis.
As a result, the Maldharis are free to roam the forest to collect resources safely without any fear.
The study also states that the Gir Maldharis do not see the lions as a threat. There have been no lion attacks in over two decades.
And the cattle that the lions have killed have been useless to the tribesmen for all purposes, such as bulls, ailing calves, aged, and dying cattle.
The study also shows that the loss caused by lions far outweighs the benefits. The loss comes up to Rs 3.5 lakhs per 100 livestock. (with compensation). Without government support, the loss can go as high as Rs 6.19 lakhs.
However, the families that have 100 livestock earn about Rs 11.04 lakh per annum (with compensation). Even when the government doesn’t compensate for the losses, a family can make up to Rs 8.40 lakh per annum.
So here we are, the world literally looking to drown itself in shit puddles of its own making and there are these people who live and grow with the lions and are prospering for it.