Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pride hurt: Murmurs of protest fill Gir air against lion translocation

Pride hurt: Murmurs of protest fill Gir air against lion translocation
Daily Bhaskar

 Even as the Gujarat government mulls its next plan of action regarding translocation of lions to Madhya Pradesh, a few groups in Gir are gearing up to protest Monday's verdict of the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, a small group of residents protested the presence of wildlife expert Ravi Chellam in the area.

"There had been murmurs of protest, but the biggest outburst came later in the day when Sasan residents realised that one of the scientists – Ravi Chellam – who was a member of the committee that advised translocation of lions, was in the village," said a resident. Some residents and a few forest guards began a protest as the scientist tried to enter the sanctuary, he said, adding, "They even carried placards that read 'Chellam Go Back' and prevented his entry to the sanctuary. He had to return to the the forest department guest house."
When contacted, deputy conservator of forests (DCF) of Sasan, Sandeep Kumar, admitted that a protest was carried out. "It was taken out by the local guides and not the forest guards," said Kumar. He refused to comment further. Meanwhile, activist Bharat Sojitra claimed that the people want the forest department to ensure that herbivores, too, were reduced, if lions were taken.

"It is because of the large lion population that the herbivores are in control. Once they go, it will be difficult to control them," said Sojitra. Pointing out that the lions often come to farms, too, he said that it was a blessing in disguise as it helped keep the wild herbivores away and farmers did not have to protect their fields.

There is already a rise in herbivore population and moving a large number of lions would only worsen the situation, he added.
Another activist, Dinesh Goswami of Prakruti Nature Club, said that 50 NGOs had submitted a joint memorandum to the collector to help prevent translocation of lions.

"We are also spreading awareness about the issue. There will be regular programmes on an everyday basis and we plan to involve school and college kids as well," said Goswami.

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