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Gandhinagar, Tuesday: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today called for taking up the mangrove protection drive along the seacoast in right earnest, along with consolidating the growth story of wildlife in the state.

Presiding over the meeting of Gujarat State Wildlife Board here, he reiterated the need to maintain the state's efforts to preserve the diversity and number of wildlife in the state. He welcomed the valuable suggestions of wildlife experts. He specially talked about two projects, namely the Biodiversity Wildlife Conservation and Integrated Coastal Area Mangrove Protection. While the Gujarat Government has undertaken the ‘Lio-Gen Pool' project, its efforts to preserve Asiatic lions has come in for praise by world wildlife experts.

The number of lions has increased from 177 in 1986 to 411 (including 162 lionesses) now, and that of wild ass up from 720 to 4,100 during the last 35 years. The meeting stressed on the need to ensure no harm is caused to the wildlife and sanctuaries.

The meeting was attended by Forest and Environment Minister Mangubhai Patel, Minister of State Kiritsinhji Rana, Principal Secretary S.K. Nanda, Chief Conservators of Forest S.K. Goyal and Pradeep Khanna, Director General of Police Chittaranjan Singh, wildlife experts and activists from NGOs.

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