Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gir lions are nation’s property, concedes Gujarat govt

Gir lions are nation's property, concedes Gujarat govt
DNA By JUmana Shah

The six-year-long battle in the Supreme Court over shifting of the Asiatic Lions from Gir sanctuary to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur Sanctuary saw an interesting twist on Monday. During the hearing on a plea related to the relocation of Asiatic Lions to Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh from Gir National Park, the Gujarat government agreed that wildlife is not the 'property' of any state but belongs to the country.

Senior counsel for the petitioner in the case, Raj Panjwani says, "This, in effect means that the state has agreed for the translocation of the lions out of Gujarat, if wildlife experts confirm that Kuno is prepared to receive the big cats. The state's counsel said that if the security and prey base measures are fulfilled, we have not objection."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior forest officer from Gujarat informed DNA, "The lions should be relocated scientifically. We can move them if it is affirmed that Kuno has sufficient prey base, it is secure; there shouldn't be other pathogens, etc. We believe that the materials presented before the courts are not enough to take an informed decision on the subject."

Panjwani adds that the whole issue was 'whether' the lions can be translocated or not.That has been resolved today, as the government's counsel conceded that lions are not the property of the state of Gujarat. "So the question whether Gujarat can say 'no' to relocation is settled. It cannot. So the issue is now about when and how the lions should be moved. That is an administrative issue that can be dealt with by wildlife experts," he said.

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