Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gir lions can breathe easy for now

Gir lions can breathe easy for now
Times of India

The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife which met in New Delhi on Wednesday has asked experts to review and give their opinions on the scientific and social aspects of translocation of Asiatic Lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh (MP).

Union minister of environment and forest and chairman of the standing committee Jairam Ramesh accepted Gujarat government's point of view and asked the panel if there were any other options available.

Principal chief conservator of forest, Gujarat, Pradeep Khanna and principal secretary SK Nanda raised the point that earlier attempts to translocate lions to Chandraprabha in Uttar Pradesh had failed. Also, it was pointed out that conservation efforts of Gujarat were much better than any other state which had led to the increase in lion population.

The duo also said that lions need peaceful co-existence with the people in their surroundings. "People of Gujarat take pride in living in harmony with lions which would not be the case in MP," they added.

Official sources said that it was also proposed that MP can get lions from the various zoos in the country and they can then release the second generation of the big cats in the wild. Officials said during the meeting, the experts also raised doubts over conservation aspect of zoo-bred lions.

Nanda said the minister has asked experts to give their opinions and papers on doubts raised over translocation by the Gujarat government. The Union ministry would then, based on these, file their reply in the Supreme Court to a petition by Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India, a Delhi-based NGO seeking transfer of lions from Gujarat to MP.

He said that it was a victory for the state as Gujarat's viewpoint was accepted in principle by the minister. Meanwhile, the mail and fax campaigns against shifting of lions continued through Wednesday. Officials said that over 1,500 mails and 500 faxes were sent to Ramesh and the Wildlife Trust of India.

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