Thursday, March 15, 2012

Adopt Gir lion as national animal, says Parimal Nathwani

Adopt Gir lion as national animal, says Parimal Nathwani
Thehindubusinessline By Virendra Pandit

The Rajya Sabha Member from Jharkhand, Mr Parimal Nathwani, has urged the Government of India to adopt the Asiatic lion of Gir forest in Gujarat as the country's national animal.

Mr Nathwani, who is also the Group President of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), raised the issue in the Upper House during the Question Hour, according to a press release here on Tuesday.

The Union Minister of Environment and Forest, Ms Jayanti Natarajan, replied that the Bengal tiger continued to be India's national animal and there was no proposal under consideration with the Government to replace it with the Asiatic lion.

The Bengal tiger was adopted as India's national animal in the place of lion at a meeting of the Indian Board for Wildlife in 1972. The main reasons were that tiger was important worldwide, it existed in 16 states in the country, and it needed to be protected strictly. On the other hand, lion was found only in one state, the Minister's reply said.

The Government, however, admitted that the Gir forest was the only abode of Asiatic lion, Panthera leo persica, in the world. The population of Asiatic lions in Gir National Park, sanctuary and other areas of Greater Gir was estimated at 411 by the Government of Gujarat in 2010.

The Planning Commission had approved, in principle, a project for the "Conservation of Asiatic lion in Greater Gir Region" to be implemented by the Gujarat Government over a period of five years at a cost of Rs 262.36 crore, including Central assistance of Rs 236.63 crore. The project also included creation of infrastructure for the promotion of eco-tourism in the Gir forest.

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