Monday, May 03, 2010


Times of India

Chief Minister Narendra Modi made out emotion pitch against giving some Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh lions in his first ever official statement on the issue.

While announcing the latest lion census figures on Sunday he said, "After the 2007 poaching incident in Gir, I had visited lion territory and wanted to talk to the people in and around the sanctuary. But they refused to talk to me until I promised them that not a single lion would be given to Madhya Pradesh. When I told them that the lion was killing their cattle, they said they were ready to suffer the loss as the wild cat had become part of their family."

Modi added that even the Maldharis were ready to sacrifice their cattle to ensure that the lions stay in Gujarat. The Gujarat government has even opposed a PIL in the Supreme Court asking for some wild lions to be shifted to Madhya Pradesh. The court is slated to hear the issue later this week.

Madhya Pradesh government's argument has been that three to four per cent per cent of the Gir lions die of unnatural death every year. Given these circumstances, there was no harm in shifting five lions to the Kuno-Palpur forest. The counter affidavit filed by Madhya Pradesh has stated that many lions were dying by falling into open wells, poaching and were even getting electrocuted.

However, Modi made it clear that only one unnatural death was reported in the last year and that too a cub had died after falling in a well.

The Gujarat government has been opposing the move on technical grounds as well, stating that tiger and lions cannot stay together. Gujarat has stated in the Supreme Court that relocating lions from the Gir sanctuary could cause irreparable damage to the sociology of lions and asserted that Madhya Pradesh could not manage the relocation as it had failed to protect its own tigers.
Graphic: Ayaz Daruwala

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