SHIFTING OF LIONS
Times of India
Prey base main argument between Guj, MP
Does Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh have enough preys for the last breed of Asiatic Lions? No, says Gujarat government. Yes, says Madhya Pradesh government. This is the latest bone of contention between the two governments that are involved in a legal battle in Supreme Court over translocation of lions.
The counter affidavit filed by Madhya Pradesh government in Supreme Court has based its major arguments on the prey-base report prepared by Wildlife Institute of India.
Acting on the affidavit filed by Gujarat government, Madhya Pradesh government has reiterated that it has adequate prey base. The affidavit was filed in the Supreme Court which was acting on a petition praying that the lions should be shifted to Kuno Palpur. Further hearing in the case is scheduled for July 30.
Gujarat government's main contention in their affidavit filed in May this year was that lion and tigers cannot stay together and that the prey base is inadequate in Kuno Palpur. Among the other contentions, Gujarat Government had pointed out that earlier efforts to shift lions outside the state had also failed.
It was in 1980 that Dehradun-based Wildlife Research Institute had felt that the 1,400-sq. km Gir forest in Gujarat, with its population of over 350 big cats, was too small for housing such a large number of animals.
It also felt that concentrating the entire lion population in one place exposed it to the danger of being wiped out by a disease or natural calamity. The institute then zeroed in on the 345-sq. km Kuno-Palpur sanctuary and launched the Asiatic Lions Reproduction Project, a Rs 64-crore Centrally funded scheme, spread over a period of 20 years, to shift the lions. The census conducted this year showed that there were over 411 lions in the state.
In reply to this, Madhya Pradesh Government has filed the counter affidavit in the Supreme Court. The MP affidavit has contended that the prey base is adequate and to support their claims they have quoted report of the Wildlife Institute Of India.
13 ANIMALS PER SQ KM IN MP
Wildlife Institute Of India (WII) had in its report stated that 'the density of catchable wild prey (chital, sambhar, nilgai and pig) is 13 animals per sq km in Kuno Palpur. This will grow to 20 animals/sq km'. The report further stated there are about 2,500 cattle, left behind by translocating people which are considered to be buffer prey for lions over the likely problem of drought. MP government has once again relied on the fact that many lions die after falling into a well, due to poaching and electrocution. They have relied on figures recently acquired by them.
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