UP plans to get lions from zoos for safari project in Etawah
The Asian Age
The Asian Age
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is not happy with UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's plans to start an Asian Lion Safari (ALS) in Etawah.
Mr Modi had been approached several times by former environment minister Jairam Ramesh to allow some Gir lions to be relocated to the Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh but the Gujarat chief minister had turned down his proposal.
Mr Yadav, taking a cue, has decided to side-step Mr Modi entirely. Rather than translocate lions from the Gir forest, the UP department of wildlife plans to initiate talks with zoos across the country so that they can get lions directly from them. These relocated lions will be kept in Lucknow, Kanpur and other zoos in the state and then shifted to the safari area which will be made ready on a war-footing.
The forest department has allocated 50 acres of forest in the Chambal forest region of Etawah district. The main tree available in this region is the exotic babool but forest officials pointed out that some of these will be removed to allow more mixed deciduous forest to grow in this area as is found in the Gir sanctuary.
Mr Yadav has sanctioned Rs35 crores for this project. UP chief wildlife warden Rupak De has clarified that the lions will be first kept in zoos from where they will be shifted to breeding centres inside the ALS.
Each of these breeding centres will have one male and three to four females. It is only when the numbers of animals increase up to 10 and more that the park will be opened for public viewing.
The project has still to receive final clearance from the Central Zoo Authority. Several wildlife enthusiasts have raised eyebrows at the speed with which this project is being rushed through. Given the clout that the Samajwadi Party enjoys at the Centre, they question whether wildlife experts will get a chance to study the project thoroughly.
The 2010 census highlighted that India had 411 Asiatic lions from which 297 were to be found at the Gir National Park.