Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kuno lion translocation report mum on conservation

Kuno lion translocation report mum on conservation
The Times of India

 Gujarat is being forced to share its pride - the Gir lions- with Madhya Pradesh just so that the neighbouring state becomes a more attractive tourist destination, and not to protect this species from extinction. This is how experts are reading the latest 50-page report by two wildlife experts who have been asked to draw up a protocol for the translocation. The report focuses on benefits from tourism and conservation of other flora and fauna in the region.

The Supreme Court had approved the translocation to Kuno Palpur sanctuary to preserve the lions. The first line of its April 15, 2012 order states: "We have been called upon to decide the necessity of a second home for Asiatic Lion, an endangered species, for its long term survival and to protect the species from extinction..."

Page three and four of 'Action Plan for the reintroduction of the Asiatic Lions in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh', prepared by two lion experts Y V Jhala and Ravi Chellam, lists six aims for translocation. But conservation is missing.

In fact, it gives 'developing capacities of local communities to coexist with wild animals' as one of the aims, implicitly admitting that villagers there aren't used to large carnivores next door. TOI had reported earlier that the villages around Kuno Palpur have some of highest guns per capita in the country.

Chellam told TOI, "This is a draft report. We are open to suggestions. The report was prepared under tremendous pressure and certain points may have been missed."

An expert, who is part of the 12-member committee appointed by the SC for translocation said, "The committee should have listed conservation as the main and long-term aim, instead of talking of tourism and benefits to local people."

He further pointed out that the report talks of 3,330 sq km area as a landscape for the lions, but the current area at Kuno Palpur is just around 345 sq km. No one has a clue where the additional 2,980 sq km will come from.

--Provide adequate security to local flora and fauna --Better protection of the habitat within Kuno sanctuary. This will enable conservation of other endangered species --Build capacity of MP forest department in habitat and prey management --Generate benefits for local people through development of wildlife tourism and ancillary activities --Develop capacities of local communities to coexist with wild animals

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