Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SC notice to Centre, Gujarat on lion deaths


The Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses of the Centre and Gujarat government on a petition seeking steps in Gir forest to contain large scale poaching and to fence open wells to save Asiatic lions from extinction.

Advocate E G Rajendran argued before a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran that poaching was rampant in the Gir forests, the last habitat of lions in Asia, as animal parts were in great demand in neighbouring China.

He said the lion population, which was estimated at several thousand a hundred years ago, had fallen to 359 in 2000. The number was still shrinking due to poaching and the presence of open wells in the Gir forest, he said.

"The reserve forest contains more than 300 wells without parapet walls and due to inadequate provision of water, the lions jump into these wells to quench their thirst only to meet a watery grave," he said.

He said around 8,000 people were living inside the sanctuary and sought a direction to the state government to immediately rehabilitate them outside the Gir forest.

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