Saturday, February 13, 2010

State opposes shifting of Gir lions to MP tiger reserve

State opposes shifting of Gir lions to MP tiger reserve
Indian Express

Amid the growing concern over the depleting tiger population in the country, Gujarat today opposed in the Supreme Court, the Centre's proposal to shift the Asiatic lions from the Gir forest to the Kuno tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh.

The Gujarat government warned that relocating lions from Gir was fraught with "irreparable damage to the sociology of lions" and asserted that MP cannot manage the relocation as it had failed to protect its own tiger sanctuary.

"MP's tigers are dying. It will be highly improper to shift the lions to Kuno reserve," Mukul Rohtagi, the counsel for Gujarat told a bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and justices B S Chauhan and Chandramouli Prasad.

The Modi government argued that the people of the state take pride in the lion sanctuary. Any attempt to translocate them to Kuno "against the will of the 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 that the lion population could diminish in the event of an epidemic outbreak as witnessed elsewhere in 1994.

"There were eight tigers at Kuno in 1992 and as stated by the July 21, 2009 affidavit by Madhya Pradesh, there is no significant population of tigers at Kuno," argued the Gujarat government.

The state governemnt said that shifting the lions to Kuno will cause health problems to them as they would be prone to immune deficiency disorders. According to the Gujarat, government, the proposal for the translocation of lions is based on a false alarm/fear of an epidemic calamity on the specious arguments of the Gir lion's genetic weakness.

The state said the lion reserve had sufficient space of 20,000 km for free movement of the animals and breeding outside its family and there was also no room for man-animal conflict in view of the general public and government support for conservation of the reserved area.

The bench, headed by the Chief Justice, briefly heard the state' submission and asked the Centre and the two states to sort out the issue through consultation and report back after four weeks.

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