Gujarat opposes shifting lion sanctuary to MP tiger reserve
Times of India
Amidst growing concern over depleting tiger population in the country, Gujarat stoutly opposed in the Supreme Court, the Centre's proposal to shift the Gir Asiatic lions sanctuary to Kuno tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
The Narendra Modi government warned that relocating the lions from the Gir sanctuary in Gujarat was fraught with "irreparable damage to the sociology of lions" and asserted that Madhya Pradesh cannot manage the relocation as it had failed to protect its own tiger sanctuary.
"Already, their (Madhya Pradesh's) tigers are dying. It would be highly improper to shift the lions to Kuno reserve," senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi appearing for Gujarat told a bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices B S Chauhan and Chandramouli Prasad.
The Modi government further argued that the people of the state take pride in the lions sanctuary and any attempt to translocate the animals to the Kuna reserve "against the will of people of Gujarat will cause irreparable damage to their conservation and cultural ethos."
The Union Ministry for Environment and the Wildlife Board had come out with the relocation proposal on the ground the lions population could diminish in the event of an epidemic outbreak as witnessed somewhere in 1994.
The Gujarat government's opposition to the translocation to the other BJP state comes in the backdrop of the growing concern in the country over the depleting tiger population, which is presently put at a dismal figure of less 1,500.
The Gujarat government, in its affidavit filed today, said the Centre was seeking to translocate the lion sanctuary despite the fact that the state had given adequate technical views and facts backed with sufficient evidence to the National Wildlife Board and the Environment Ministry against the proposal.
"Any artificial tinkering with the complex natural ecosystem and socio-cultural traditions that supports conservation of Asiatic lion in the Gir region, that too against the will and opinion of the local people, can never be a remedy unless and until the facts of its evolution and conservation in this region are fully understood.
"The present project proposal for translocation of lions from Gir to Kuno is one such proposal of artificial tinkering without fully understanding the conservation success at the Gir region," the affidavit said.
Terming the proposal as "ill-conceived and vague", Gujarat cited a variety of reasons to insist that Kuno tiger reserve was not suitable for translocation of lions for various reasons.
The reasons cited were: presence of tigers in the same reserve area would not be conducive to the habitat of lions, eco-climate being different from Gir, inadequate prey base, faulty projection in prey base growth; logistics and strain involved in transporting the lions to such a long distance.
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