'Why only MP, lions need more homes in country'
Times of India
Project Tiger Official Supports Plan To Relocate Some Gir Lions
New Delhi: The controversial plan to shift some lions from Gir to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur sanctuary has got support from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) overseeing 'Project Tiger' in the country. At a high-level meeting, Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of NTCA, strongly supported the relocation plan saying it was not only necessary for ecological balance but also a crucial step to save the threatened species from extinction.
Presently, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has been asked to identify zoos from where lions can be released in Kuno Palpur sanctuary in Shivpur Kalan district. "Only trained zoo-bred animals having wild instincts will be released and not first generation lions," Gopal said.
"We need to take pro-active steps if we want
to save lions. Just
i m a g i n e what will happen in case lions in Gujarat are afflicted with some epidemic or there is a natural calamity. An alternative home is a must. In fact why only Madhya Pradesh? We can look for more homes," he added.
His comments assume significance in the wake of objections raised by some members, including wildlife expert M K Ranjitsinh, who said the relocation experiment might fail as the animals to be released will not be trained in handling conflict. Members were also doubtful of the genetic purity of zoo-bred lions.
However, Gopal contended that the programme will be scientifically planned. "What is the harm in introducing captive lions if we get pure lineage? They will be raised in-situ in Kuno Palpur and then released in the wild after they are radiocollared," he said.
He was of the view that when domestic animals like cows and buffaloes can adopt survival instincts of living in the wild, then why not lions. CZA has already identified Delhi and Hyderabad zoos where pure genes of lions are available. It has also allocated Rs 70 lakh to execute the plan. PTI