Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jairam urges Gujarat Govt to provide lions for Kuno-Palpur

Jairam urges Gujarat Govt to provide lions for Kuno-Palpur
The pionerr By Vivek Trivedi

Giving a boost to the proposed second home for Asiatic Lions, being developed at Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Sheopur district Madhya Pradesh, Union Minister of State for Forest and Environment, Jairam Ramesh on Thursday once again pressed Gujarat to part with some of its lions with Madhya Pradesh.

Ramesh on Thursday visited the Sasangir sanctuary in Gujarat's Junagadh district, the only abode of Asiatic lions. The Union Minister said that he was hopeful that the Narendra Modi Government would accept the proposal for shifting few lions to Madhya Pradesh.

The Union Minister of Forests and Environment said that specialists believe that there should be a second habitat for Asiatic lions and from past so many years we are in talks with Madhya Pradesh.

However, the original plan of relocating Asiatic lions of Gir to any other place in the country was devised in 1980 by Wildlife Research Institute Dehradun. The idea was based on the assumption that the 1,400-sq km Gir forest, with its population of over 350 big cats, was too small for keeping such a large number of the carnivore species. The other reasons for devising a second home for this species were based on fear of the entire lion population being wiped out by a disease or natural calamity as had earlier happened in some parts of Africa.

The Kuno-Palpur sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh was selected following extensive surveys and Asiatic Lions Reproduction Project was started with Central assistance of Rs 64 crore, spread over a period of 20 years, to shift the lions. The project, however, has failed to move due to Gujarat's reluctance to hand over the lions by presenting a variety of reasons.

The States of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are bickering over various aspects of the relocation, over the last two-and-a-half years, since the volunteer organisation, Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India, New Delhi, moved the Apex Court seeking relocation of lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur. Both the States are still awaiting the final verdict in the matter.

Under this Central Government's ambitious project, Rs 34 crore has already been spent on relocation of 1,543 families for establishing this sanctuary.

However, Gujarat is adamant on not handing any of the unique pure breed Asiatic lions to any location outside the state.

It is learnt that apprehension of losing the tourists to Madhya Pradesh was said to be the basic reason behind the stubborn attitude of Gujarat.

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