Thursday, May 24, 2007

Corporates' help for conserving lions


Corporates' help for conserving lions

Times News Network


GANDHINAGAR: Corporate houses based in Gujarat offered the Gujarat government assistance in conserving the Asiatic Lion, even as the government tried to convey the message that the situation arising out of poaching and other threats to the lion, was not as grave as was made out to be in the media.


A meeting of government officials, NGOs and representatives of business houses was held here on Wednesday, to launch a society for conservation of lions. Corporate houses, willing to help out with finances or other logistics, will be given membership of the society which plans to raise about Rs 40 crores for lion conservation.


The meeting began with a presentation on the lions in Saurashtra where the government said that the growth in lion population in the state was showing a healthy trend. The presentation underplayed the recent death of eight lions in poaching incidents, which created a furore and has now forced the government to seek public-private partnership in this conservation effort.


Parimal Nathwani, president, corporate affairs of Reliance Industries Limited, immediately announced that the group was willing to take up work of covering 1,500 open wells which have become virtual death-traps for the lions and other animals. Besides, Nathwani said, Reliance was also willing to provide a modern ambulance, manned by a veterinary doctor, to rush to rescue of injured animals.


Not to be left behind, Harshad Brahmbhatt who represents the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) offered to set up communication facilities in the forest area for better coordination between forest personnel.


Sunil Parekh, adviser of Zydus Cadila, offered medicines and help in scientific research to the forest department. He emphasised on creating a gene pool for sustained growth in the lion population. He said Zydus could invite wildlife experts from other countries, if need be, to provide better technical inputs to the forest department on this matter.


Offers for covering of wells also came from Tata Chemicals and Shell Hazira with the former looking to get itself with community development in the sanctuary.


Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Pradeep Khanna said: "We were happy with the overwhelming response from corporate houses and we would like to build a long-term association with them for conservation of wildlife in Gujarat."

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