Fire engulfs Gir forest

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Amreli (Gujarat)/Mudumalai (TN), Feb 19 (ANI): A fire engulfed the Gir forest in Gujarat's Junagarh district on Wednesday.

There have been no reports of any animal casualty in the fire, which spread across 70-80 acres of forest.

The Gir National Park is the world's only natural habitat for the rare Asiatic lion.

Conservationists say that keeping all the big cats in Gir poses a serious risk as a single epidemic or natural disaster can wipe out the entire population, estimated at around 359 in 2005.

Meanwhile, another fire engulfed large tracts of forest area around the Mudumalai Tiger Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

The Tamil Nadu Government declared Mudumalai a tiger reserve last year as part of the Central Government's "Project Tiger" initiative, to boost the country's dwindling big cat population.

There were about 40,000 tigers in India a century ago. The latest government census report says the tiger population has fallen to 1,411, down from 3,642 in 2002, largely due to dwindling habitat and poaching. (ANI)

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