Ahmedabad - India has begun a five-yearly count of Asiatic lions in the western state of Gujarat's Gir sanctuary, the last habitat for the endangered big cats globally, an official said. The last census in 2010 revealed 411 lions were living in the 20 000km2 sanctuary up from 359 lions in 2005, with officials expecting to record a significant increase in the number of wild cats. An official said the census would continue until May 5 in five districts of the state. The lions which have migrated outside the sanctuary will also be counted.Officials said the experts conducting the census would use a combination of direct sightings, photographs and GPS tracking technology to document each lion and avoid double counting. Endangered speciesAround 2 500 people, including wildlife experts from India's top universities, are participating in the counting process, with the final results expected on May 10.India faces intense international scrutiny over its conservation efforts because it is home to many endangered species, including tigers.But in January its conservation efforts were hailed by experts after 2 226 tigers were spotted in a country wide census, a 30% increase in the population from 2010, when the figure was 1 706.