Saturday, March 17, 2012

‘Lions are the property of Sorath’

'Lions are the property of Sorath'

Members of the state wildlife board have yet again affirmed their opinion and belief, that the Asiatic Lions should not be moved out of Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur Sanctuary.

In a specially convened meeting on Friday evening in Gandhinagar, all members of the board have unanimously supported the Gujarat government's stand, refusing to part with the lions despite recommendations of several researchers and national board for wildlife in India (NBWLI).

The ongoing case in Supreme Court is being heard every Monday on a petition by a wildlife conservationist. He is seeking the relocation of a few lions from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary to MP's Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, as he fears that a single epidemic could wipe out the entire species.

The State government has been asked to present the arguments of the SWLB coming Monday. Sources who attended the meeting on Friday said CM Narendra Modi, who chaired the meeting, listened to the members.

One member said the concept of Greater Gir should be explained to the court, which effectively deals with the problem of lack of space in the incumbent sanctuary. It will also facilitate diversity of gene pool since the lions will be spread out over a larger area.

Lavkumar Khachar, a member of the board and a veteran wildlife conservationist, emphasised that the lions were neither the property of the government of Gujarat, nor of the nation. "If they are a property of anyone, they are the 'property' of the people of Sorath (Junagadh). That is where they have lived and flourished all these decades. GoG is only the caretaker.

The biodiversity of any region is the 'property' of the people of that area. If lions have to be parted, it should only be with the permission of the people of Sorath," he said.

He said, "If not of government or nation, they are property of universe. It is in their good interest that they should be relocated to a place like MP, where conservation is not an issue."

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