Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Centre offers tigers for Guj’s lions
Centre offers tigers for Guj's lions
Times of India
The Centre has offered to re-introduce tigers in the forest of Dangs as an incentive to Gujarat to part with some Asiatic lions for Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat has been opposing the proposal to give lions to MP and the battle is at its peak in the Supreme Court.
Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh said at a function to release 'A Handbook on Wildlife Law Enforcement in India' on Tuesday that he had made an offer to re-introduce tigers in the Purna sanctuary in Dangs where the big cats ruled the jungles about 25 years back. "I told Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will work to re-introduce tigers in Dangs as an incentive for the state to part with its lions," he said.
Gujarat has been opposing the Centre's decade-old proposal to relocate Asiatic lions from Gir reserve to a 300 sq km forest at Kuno Palpur in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh. The last census showed 359 lions spread over 1,500 sq km, and this time there are indications of numbers having grown. Ramesh admitted that he has been unable to find a reasonable reply to Gujarat chief minister's contention of community protection of wildlife in the state. The Maldhari community is known to protect the lions even at the cost of their own lives, he noted.
The study for the relocation of some of the Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh was planned in the 1980s taking into account the disaster in Seringeti forest in Africa where a disease—canine distemper—wiped out 80 per cent of the lion population. However, officials said that Gujarat was not taken into confidence when the proposal was being finalised. Gujarat has been saying that it has already started building a second home for lions at a safe reserve forest in Girnar area and has three different gene pools.
Creating a Gir in Corbett
Amid the court battle, the Centre appears to have learnt a lesson or two on community protection of wildlife and has implemented a similar project in Corbett. A team of 50-60 'van gujjars' has been formed in Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand in a bid to protect the flora and fauna of the bioreserve. "We are trying to replicate the Gir model in Corbett," Ramesh said.
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