Thursday, April 05, 2012

Gujarat opposes shifting of Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh

Gujarat opposes shifting of Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh
The Hindu By J. Venkatesan

"Scientific facts do not support fears of threat to Asiatic lion population in Gir"
The Gujarat government on Monday strongly opposed any move to shift the Asiatic lions from the Gir forest to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh. It contended that the lions would not be safe there.

Appearing for the State, senior counsel Shyam Divan told a Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and C.K. Prasad the apprehension that an epidemic in the Gir forest might wipe out the entire species of the Asiatic lions was not borne out of correct facts. The Gir lions were not genetically weak, he said.

Counsel argued that the Centre's fear was not supported by scientific proof. The Kuno reserve forest was not suitable for lions because it was meant for tigers and its weather and environment were not conducive for the survival of the Asiatic lions.

Mr. Divan said there were 25 tigers in Kuno Palpur once, but the population was zero now due to poaching. How can the Asiatic lions be moved there when there was systemic failure and the Madhya Pradesh government had failed to put in place a system to protect tigers?

Initially, the Kuno region was meant to be used for a cheetah project and it was suggested that cheetahs should first be allowed to acclimatise themselves in the reserve forest and then steps taken for the translocation of the Asiatic lions, he noted.

Mr. Divan reasoned that if the lions were translocated first, they might not allow cheetahs to establish themselves.

The Gujarat government was taking adequate steps to protect and preserve the lions.

Arguments in the case will continue.

* Kuno Palpur's weather and environment not conducive for Asiatic lions

* Poaching has wiped out the entire population of 25 tigers in Kuno

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