Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Indian states roar in court over a pride of lions

Indian states roar in court over a pride of lions

The close to extinction Asiatic lion may be struggling to survive, but provincial governments of the two Indian States of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have launched a no-holds-barred battle for their custody in the country's highest court.

The Madhya Pradesh government which is seeking custody of at least one pride of the Asiatic Lion from the forests of neighboring Gujarat, told India's Supreme Court that the latter's accusation about its incapability to handle the lions was misplaced.

The atmosphere in the Apex Court got a shade charged with the solicitor representing Madhya Pradesh countering the allegations of Gujarat's officials, including that it had no prey base, rampant poaching and of its forest officials' incapability to conserve the lions.

Lion conservationists are unanimous that isolating some Asiatic lions is crucial to achieve the wider the goal of preserving diversity of their gene. To achieve this, the provincial government in Madhya Pradesh set aside the Palpur Kuno sanctuary for the purpose and a pride of Asiatic lions was to be relocated there. But Gujarat refused to part with them when it came to physically implementing the process of the lion relocation.

The matter reached the Supreme Court of India and has been dragging there for some years after an environmentalist petitioned it to settle the matter for the sake of conserving the breed of lions. But recently the Supreme Court decided to hear the case every Monday and the final judgment is expected by August this year.

Interestingly, the provincial governments of these two states at war for custody of the Asiatic lions are of the same political hue – the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.


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