Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Once again, Gujarat Govt gets ready to fight relocation of lions


Once again, Gujarat Govt gets ready to fight relocation of lions

Ahmedabad Newsline By Bashir Pathan

Gandhinagar, September 11: EMBATTLED in the recent Gir lion poaching incidents, the Gujarat Government is preparing for another salvo of Madhya Pradesh to relocate some Asiatic lions to Kuno Palpur sanctuary in the neighbouring State. According to Sachivalaya sources, the MP Government has once again started mounting pressure on the Centre to include the controversial proposal of translocation of Gir lions in the agenda of National Board for Wildlife meeting, to be held in New Delhi on October 8.

The meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is also the chairman of the NBWL. Among others, the chief wildlife wardens of all the States are members of the Board.

“We are aware that the recent unfortunate poaching incidents may prompt Madhya Pradesh to reiterate its demand to translocate some Gir lions to Kuno Palpur sanctuary, and representatives of the neighbouring State may even rake up this issue at NBWL’s meet. But, we will stick to our earlier stand. We will not shift Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh,” asserts Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel.

Patel told Express Newsline on Tuesday that the State Government had already informed the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest that the MP proposal for relocation of Asiatic lions was not acceptable, and that “our government has already intensified measures to protect the wild cats in and around the Gir sanctuary”.

Gujarat PCCF (Wildlife) Pradeep Khanna, who will attend the NBWL’s meeting in Delhi, said he would hold the government brief and resist any move by his MP counterpart to raise the Gir lion issue during the deliberations at the October 8 meeting.

He said that even at the June 2006 NBWL’s meeting, Madhya Pradesh had raked up this issue which he and another NBWL member from Gujarat G A Patel had vociferously resisted the MP’s move.

Asked, Khanna said there was no denying the fact that three poaching incidents, two in Gir and one in Bhavnagar district, had been reported over two months ago in which as many as eight Gir lions were killed. But, the State Forest Department had then swung into action and booked the culprits involved in the incidents. Not only this, the department has taken quick steps to check such incidents and protect the Asiatic lions.

Among the protective measures initiated by his department, Khanna said that of the total 300 posts of “vanya prani mitras” (wildlife friends) sanctioned by the Government, 180 were already recruited, besides 100 new posts of forest guards have been filled up. Moreover, as many as 100 motorcycles, 10 jeeps equipped with wireless sets and 75 walkie-talkie handsets have been purchased, while the department is in the process of purchasing 25 .12 bore guns and 10 revolvers for its staff protecting the Gir sanctuary, he said.

When contacted, former NBWL member and chief wildlife warden G A Patel said there was no question of the State conceding to the demand of shifting Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh because similar experiments had miserable failed in the past. “Since Kuno Palpur sanctuary has had some tigers, it’s not advisable to shift Gir lions there, as there are bound to be frequent clashes between the two carnivores over territories. It has been observed that tigers and lions can never co-exist”, he contends.

No comments:

Previous Posts