Monday, May 14, 2012

Has MP hijacked Gujarat's tourism mascot ?

Has MP hijacked Gujarat's tourism mascot ?
Times of India

A lioness staring into the lens with a stately gaze. This photograph on the Madhya Pradesh tourism department's website to sell the Kuno Palpur Sanctuary has upset officials in Gujarat — the only home of the Asiatic lion in the world.

MP tourism has started selling the Kuno Palpur as an alternative site for the wild cats even as the two neighbouring states fight a legal battle in the Supreme Court over shifting lions from the Gir sanctuary. While MP is seeking lions, Gujart is holding on to them, not ready to share the 'Khusboo Gujarat Ki' mascot with anyone. 

Is conserving the lion MP's aim as it has claimed in the SC, or does it simply want to bring in more tourists by adding another juicy attraction? This is a question many in Gujarat are asking. 

Talk of some lions being shifted began again last week when the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the cheetah reintroduction programme by Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) in Kuno Palpur. 

The text on the MP website is carefully worded. "Kuno has been selected as an alternate home for the endangered Asiatic lion, which is now confined only to the Gir National Park and Sanctuary of Gujarat," the site says. "The area (Kuno Palpur) is a historical range of Asiatic lions."

A senior Gujarat government official alleged that MP's lion reintroduction plan had a clear commercial angle — attract more tourists. He alleged that tourism within Kuno Palpur already existed and once the lions were shifted, the number of tourists would only go up.

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