Shifting of Gir lions hangs in balance
DNA E paper
Ahmedabad: The plan to shift Asiatic lions to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh continues to hang in balance. The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred the points of contention submitted by the Gujarat government to the Indian Board for Wildlife, seeking its recommendations on the issue. Experts associated with the case believe that Gujarat wants to buy time in the case so as to avoid any confrontation ahead of the elections next week.
Wildlife activist Faiyaz Khudsar had filed a PIL requesting the translocation of Asiatic lions from their only abode, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, to Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary. But, on several earlier occasions, the Gujarat government has refused to part with even a single lion.
Based on the recommendations of the wildlife board and environmentalists, the MP government has spent Rs18 crore in rehabilitating 24 villages surrounding Kuno sanctuary and developing it to receive the lions.
Sources claimed Gujarat accused the board of not taking into account some points presented by it. On Wednesday, the apex court referred the matter to the board to consider the points put forth by Gujarat and file a reply by August 11.
Khudsar contended in the PIL that a single epidemic can wipe out the entire population of around 400 lions. Moreover, the area in the Gir sanctuary is not enough for the animals and they are pouring out of the sanctuary area.
"That tigers and lions cannot co-habit in an area, MP is not prepared to take care of lions, and there is no previous success story of such translocation are some of the 12 points of contention that we have submitted to the Supreme Court," principle chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Pradip Khanna said.
"The wildlife board had earlier unanimously agreed that 2+2 pairs of lions must be moved to MP to protect them. The scientific rationale was the island biology theory that if an epidemic strikes, the entire population is wiped out. Moreover, the carrying capacity of Gir has been exhausted,'' said the source.
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