Saturday, August 03, 2013

Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat set for slugfest

Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat set for slugfest
The Times of India

Madhya Pradesh forest department is all set for a fresh slugfest over translocation of lions from Gujarat after the former deciding to shoot a letter to the Centre for expediting procedural formalities for shifting of big cats.

Multiple study reports are being compiled by State forest department to suppress review petition filed by their Gujarat counterpart challenging the April 15 order which directed the Gujarat to translocate lions to Palpur-Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Sheoupur district of the state.

The Gujarat government raised a dozen issues to oppose the translocation besides alleging that the earlier order had violated the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 as shifting of wild animals mandates prior permission of the chief wildlife warden of the state to which the animal belongs.

On this point, MP forest officials claim that they have already sent a letter to the Centre and would sent a fresh reminder for the same to the Centre.

"Since it's an inter-state matter, it's for the Centre to take the initiative. We are sending a request to the Union government to do the needful," says Narendra Kumar, PCCF, MP.

Another objection from Gujarat over shifting of lions to Kuno is that Kuno-Palpur is a habitat sandwiched between Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RNP) and Madhav National Park (MNP) and is frequented by tigers in a natural dispersal. It should be developed as a "tiger area" instead of "lion area". They also claimed that there would a high risk of tiger-lion conflict in Kuno besides threats from poachers.

To counter the claim, the state forest department has documented a study supported by geographical mapping, stating that natural dispersal of tigers is reported from areas outside Kuno. The Gujarat's review petition says the cats are not "critically endangered" species and fear of epidemic in Gir's lions is imaginary and unfounded.

In support of its claim, Gujarat has quoted a report of IUCN ( world conservation union) that the current population of Asiatic lions vulnerable though, is "a large, healthy population and a recent population and habitat viability analysis (PHVA) workshop in India (Walker 1994) predicted a zero percent chance of extinction over next hundred years, based on their population model"

Gujarat government also alleges that Madhya Pradesh has no clear roadmap for translocation and that there is a great risk of poaching of translocated big cats.

The state government had filed a "caveat" on the case within a week after the April 15 order of Supreme Court. The MPPCCF says they have strong ground to overcome the objections against shifting of lions.

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