Thursday, January 30, 2014

130 years on, Brits to make up for lion-hunting losses

130 years on, Brits to make up for lion-hunting losses
The Times of India

During the Raj, lion hunting was considered the most aristocratic sport. No wonder then that the population of Asiatic lion had hit the rock bottom under the British rule - there were just 12 lions left in Junagadh in 1884. British journals of the 19th century show that the big cat occupied a prominent place in the 'shikaar' stories.

A good 130 years later, a group of Britons feel it is time to payback. The ZSL London Zoo has prepared a conservation plan to become a part of the efforts to save Asiatic lions. "As part ofinternational efforts to save the Asian lion, ZSL London Zoo is planning a £5.7m project to increase the size of its lion enclosure fourfold and fund conservation work on the last remaining wild population in the Gir Forest National Park," said the zoo's press officer Rebecca Blanchard.

The zoo plans a brand new Asiatic lion exhibit for 2016. "We're investigating the different ways we can get involved in projects to help save Asiatic lions in India. We'll continue to play an important role in the European conservation breeding programme for the species."

The project for lion conservation, that is captive breeding programme, is the baby of the ZSL London Zoo's zoological director, David Field. The zoo director wants to increase the number of the lions from five to 12 in a new enclosure will allow the zoo to play a greater part in captive breeding programme to prevent the subspecies from going extinct. A team from the UK will chalk out a plan for coordination with the Gujarat state forest department for conservation efforts.

Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) C N Pandey said, "A team from ZSL London Zoo visited Gujarat five months ago. According to their bylaws, the ZSL London Zoo will contribute funds towards conservation programme of the Asiatic lion in its home range in Gujarat."

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