Wednesday, April 17, 2013

MP all set to welcome lions

MP all set to welcome lions

Government's nearly 15-year-long battle to procure Gir lions for its Kuno Palpur sanctuary in Sheopur district got a major fillip on Monday with Supreme Court paving way for translocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat.

"We are prepared to translocate lions from Gir sanctuary to Kuno Palpur sanctuary as per the direction of the honorable court," said forest minister, Sartaj Singh.

He told DNA that the state already has completed the ground work and only needs to put its acts together to execute the court order. The state government had relocated 24 villages falling within and the periphery of the sanctuary to translocate lions almost a decade ago.

The efforts, however, did not yield any result after Gujarat Government refused to share its lions with MP. The project did not take off. The state government also tried to explore possibilities of translocating lions from overseas.

"We have complete facilities for upbringing of lions in the Kuno Palpur sanctuary," said Dharmendra Shukla, additional principal conservator of forests. "A final decision of translocation would be taken only after going through the SC order as it is not clear exactly what its content is. The court has constituted a committee to look into it," he told DNA.

Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, however, is skeptical about the MP government's capability to look after the lions. He suggested that the MP government should be more sensitive, accountable and serious about protection of the endangered species of lions before their translocation.

"We sincerely want to see the state with lions," he said, adding that unless proper mechanism for their protection was put in place, the lions may also face the threat of poaching as was in the cases of tigers. The state lost many tigers from its sanctuaries on account of poaching. The Panna tiger reserve had lost all its tigers in 2007.

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