Wednesday, November 18, 2009

After Guj denial, MP gets zoo-bred lions

After Guj denial, MP gets zoo-bred lions
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik |

It is official now. After Gujarat snubbed Madhya Pradesh's efforts to acquire Asiatic lions from Gir sanctuary, Kuno Palpur in MP, which is being developed as an alternative habitat for the Asiatic lion, will get two pairs of zoo-bred lions. The four lions will be acquired from zoos in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhopal and given to MP for a breeding centre.

"We have got the nod from Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI) to receive the lions," said conservator of forest Gwalior, Murli Krishna. Kuno Palpur is being readied for the lions at an expense of Rs 26 crore jointly funded by the Centre and state.

This would come as a jolt to Gujarat's efforts to have an exclusive sanctuary for Asiatic lions. Officials said that in a recent meeting CZAI approved moving zoo lions to Kuno Palpur. The 345 sq km area of Kuno Palpur can be home to around 60 lions. A wildlife circle has also been created. The MP government and other agencies had been pressurising Gujarat forest department to part with three or four pairs of lions. However, the state government refused. The MP government had written to all zoos in the country to spare original Asiatic lions for Kuno Palpur.

Murli said that Hyderabad zoo would give MP a pair of zoobred Asiatic lions, and
one male lion from Bhopal and a female from Delhi. They would be moved to a breeding centre and would not be open for public. However, senior officials said that once MP has the third generation of lions, they would be set free in the jungle. In the next eight years the Palpur sanctuary would be open for tourists," said officials.

Officials from the MP forest department also confirmed that talks were on more lions from other zoo. MP wanted to start with at least five pairs so that in the next eight years it can release 10 lions in the forest and keep the rest for breeding.

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