Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Gujarat declines to shift its Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh

Gujarat declines to shift its Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh

Gujarat Monday told the Supreme Court that it could not consent to the shifting of its Asiatic lions from Gir forests to Kunopal sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh as there was no proper study on shifting of the big cats.

A forest bench of Justice K.S.Radhakrishnan and Justice C.K.Prasad was told that the central government was already seeking to introduce cheetah from Namabia in the Kunopal, located in Madhya Pradesh's Sheopur district.

The court was told that Gir forest was an ideal for the Asiatic lions and there was no report suggesting of any disease inflicting them thereby posing a danger of their extension.

Concluding his arguments, senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for the state government, referred to various communications between the then Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan pointing to the plans for introducing cheetahs in Kunopal, and argued that two wild beasts could not co-exist in the same sanctuary.

He told the court that no translocation of lions could take place without proper study on whether they can be shifted or not.

The court then asked the central environment and forest ministry to appraise it of its latest position. The court also asked Madhya Pradesh government to spell its position on the issue.

Since the apex court was moved in 2009 for the shifting of the lions from Gir Forest to Kunopal, Gujarat has consistently opposed the move on the grounds that Madhya Pradesh's track record securing wild animals was dismal.

It had maintained that the villages around the Kunopal sanctuary were full of poachers and as the state government had failed in protecting its own tigers it could not be counted for protecting the lions.

Besides this Gujarat has told the apex court that Kunopal sanctuary had inadequate pray base for the Gir lion and there was a conflict of opinion amongst the experts on the question of shifting the lions from their original habitat.

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