Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gir lions: Gujarat govt fails to relent


NDTV By: Swati Thiyagarajan


The most endangered big cat in the world, the Asiatic lion found only in Gir in Gujarat, now finds itself in an ego tussle between the Centre and the state of Gujarat.

With less than 350 lions, Gir is in a very vulnerable position. On the one hand that is not a viable population of the big cat. There needs to be at least 1500 animals for a population to be viable.

But in Gir, 350 is proving to be too great a number as every ecosystem has only a certain carrying capacity. With all the lions concentrated in just one area, anything from a disease to a natural disaster could spell the end.

And now if all negotiations fail, the only hope of appeal lies with the Prime Minister.

There is no denying that the lions are a major part of Gujarat's heritage and conservation history, but they belong to the world, not just India or even Gujarat.

They have a right to life and protection and all avenues to save them must be explored. One cannot allow the lions to become a mere memory that exists on India's Ashoka Pillar.

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