Saturday, July 14, 2012

Does Madhya Pradesh have enough prey base for lions?

Does Madhya Pradesh have enough prey base for lions?

The conundrum of Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur sanctuary for accepting Asiatic Lions continued in the Supreme Court in a hearing on Friday. The amicus curie in the case has suggested that an expert committee be formed to ascertain whether MP has the requisite prey base or not.

According to sources, there are differing opinions on Kuno's prey base readiness to accept a big cat like the Asiatic Lions. While the Gujarat government has asserted that the prey base is bad, Madhya Pradesh government says it is good. Meanwhile, an expert of Wildlife Institute of India has opined that the prey base is 'satisfactory'.

The amicus curiae said the committee should be formed by the National Board for Wildlife in India constituting wildlife experts who can determine the status. He argued that the National Wildlife Action Plan 2003 already makes a mention of the fact that in case of single isolated species there needs to be a provision to relocate them to other habitat.

Sources said that wildlife expert Ravi Chellam, when called for his opinion by the court, reportedly said that the area of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary was not sufficient for the lions, and the surrounding area was not 'protected'. He also said that there was no adequate staff and the figures of prey base released assessed by the forest department were highly suspect as the study was a short term one done on the basis of a few months' observation while ideally it should be of around a year. He also seemed to favour the formation of the committee to look into the feasibility of the relocation. The issue of shifting Asiatic Lions to an additional habitat in Madhya Pradesh is being debated in the Supreme Court with wildlife experts arguing that such a mass concentration of an endangered species in one habitat (Gir) can wipe it out in case of a calamity.

The Gujarat government has refused to part with any lions and has vociferously argued against the relocation. The issue has taken strong political hues with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi personally being involved in it.

No comments:

Previous Posts