Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Move to shift Maldharis raises debate again

Move to shift Maldharis raises debate again
Times of India

The move to shift 100 Maldharis families outside the Gir sanctuary has again raised a debate on if the move was in the interest of the lion population.

Local experts feel that shifting the Maldharis would indirectly affect the feeding pattern the lion, forcing them to move out of the region. The forest officials say that the instances of lions preying on locals' cattle on the periphery were increasing and it was a clear indication that shifting the Maldharis was adversely affecting them.

The state government, in order to reduce the interference of Maldharis and their cattle in the G i r sanctuary in Ju n a - gadh, has d e c i d e d that about 100 families should be shifted out of the sanctuary area. Recently, a grant of Rs50 crore was approved by Union ministry of forests and environment for lion conservation in Gujarat. This is, however, only the first instalment of Rs236 crore sought by the state for several conservation projects.The presence of Maldharis is believed to have detrimental effect on the lions. The department estimates that the cost of rehabilitating one Maldhari family would be at least Rs10 lakh.

The foresters said that the department planned to relocate all the families and if they agreed some land outside the sanctuary would be given to them, while forest dep a r t m e n t would take control of the land within the sanctuary.

Revtubha Raizyada, former member of State Wildlife Board, said that the Lions found buffaloes easy prey. If the buffaloes were shifted out, then the lion would follow them. He further said that catching the chittal and sambhar had become difficult because of the dense forest.

However, former principal chief conservator of forests, GA Patel, said that buffalo was definitely a easy prey base for the lion but one has to shift them as the lions were getting lazy. He said that prey base in Gir was 60,000 and once the buffaloes are shifted out the animal would definitely develop back the habit of hunting. He said that the Maldharis were also playing mischief by releasing old and weak animal in the open for
   the animal to kill and then they would claim money for loss of a milching cow.

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