Thursday, May 08, 2014

Fresh prey-density estimate must before shifting Gir lions: Gujarat

Fresh prey-density estimate must before shifting Gir lions: Gujarat
The Times of India

Gujarat has reiterated that the proposed translocation of Gir lions to Kuno Palpur be based strictly on the new guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Gujarat has also demanded that Madhya Pradesh conduct an estimate of prey base density over a larger area than over only 350 sq km. Officials of the Gujarat government said that Madhya Pradesh has been pushing the prey base count done over only 314 sq km when it plans to release lions over 700 sq km area.

The state made these suggestions at the third meeting of the expert group formed to look into the translocation of lions to Kuno Palpur held on April 29, a day before the Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat. During the meeting, the action plan prepared by experts Ravi Chellam and Y V Jhala was discussed at length.

It may be recalled that the expert group of 12 members was formed following the Supreme Court order giving the go-ahead for translocation of lions to Kuno.

Sources said that Madhya Pradesh has once again demanded central assistance for the project and for conservation of lions in the area. At the meeting held on April 29, an official of the Gujarat government objected to the action plan and said that the apex court, in its April 15, 2013 order, had clearly stated that shifting of lions to Kuno should be based on IUCN guidelines, the sources said.

The new guidelines list a series of studies which have to be undertaken before translocation of the big cats is carried out. The Gujarat government objected that the proposed action plan does not mention the studies that have to be undertaken under the new guidelines, the sources said.

Some members of the expert group even raised objections to the question of another member who said that Gujarat had surplus lions and some should be translocated to Kuno. Several experts along with officials from Gujarat objected to the use of the word, 'surplus'.

The action plan also recommends that the process of translocation should begin by shifting a dozen big cats from Gir to Madhya Pradesh. It has suggested that, in all, 30-40 animals from the wild be translocated to Kuno over a period of time.

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