'Politics over shifting lions detrimental'
DNA – India By Jumana Shah
The concluding article in the book by well-known historian of ecological change Mahesh Rangarajan takes a harsh view of the state's politics over the translocation of the lions to MP.
Taking stock of developments in the past few years, Rangarajan writes that regionalism, one of the main reasons for the lions' survival in forests of Gir in Saurashtra, has now become a bane for it too.
"Regionalism, once a valued ally, can also be immune to reason. Curiously, the very regionalism that celebrates the lion is also undermining the ecology of its survival in the long run. Although it has been scenically demonstrated beyond argument that a second population of lions is needed to ensure the survival of the species, the forest department of Gujarat does not agree even in principle to discuss the modalities of shifting lions out of the state.
Lions are a marker of religious and regional difference. Their cause unifies but it also divides," Rangarajan notes. "If a second population were to be started elsewhere in India, it would give the lions a far better chance of survival, but in the process it would snuff out the one feature that makes Gir unique not just in India but all over Asia.
Gujarat would feel the absence of this singularity as a loss of face, the loss of something that sets the place, the people and state apart. The fate of the king of beasts hinges on the 'games men and women play'," he writes.