Sunday, May 11, 2014

Shifting lions bad for tiger too, says petition in SC

Shifting lions bad for tiger too, says petition in SC
The Times of India

A fresh petition filed in the Supreme Court suggests that the proposed translocation of Gir lions to Kuno-Palpur in Madhya Pradesh may harm tigers moving from Rajasthan to Madhya Pradesh. It also suggests that the arrival of the tiger in India may have been responsible for the decline in the population of Asiatic lions in the country. The petitioner, Priyvrat Gadhvi, who has been appointed member of the State Wildlife Board, has moved the Apex Court against the proposed translocation of Gir lions.

The petitioner has stated that the proposed translocation is not safe for either of the big cats as there is a strong possibility of lions coming into conflict with tigers. Scientific evidence of at least four tigers regularly using the natural corridor between Madhav National Park in MP and Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan has been submitted to the Apex Court. (Kuno-Palpur is sandwiched between these two sanctuaries.)

In the petition moved through lawyer, Nachiket Dave, Gadhvi has cited from scientific papers, photographs and various foreign authors, to establish that tigers from Madhav National Park pass through Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary while going to Ranthambore National Park.

He has further stated that the Supreme Court has not been made fully aware of the importance of Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary as a natural corridor for tigers and the volume of actual tiger movement in it. The petitioner even undertook a study tour from Ranthambore to Kuno and followed the pattern of tiger movement. He has also submitted a scientific study, 'Genetic Evidence of Tiger Population Structure and Migration within an Isolated and Fragmented Landscape in Northwest India,' done by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

The findings of the study reveal that the population and migration of Ranthamobore and Madhav National Park tigers have important implications for protection and management of this species in northwest India.

"We propose that substantial conservation efforts must focus on maintenance and improvement of connectivity between Ranthambore, Kuno-Palpur and Madhav National Parks. Since these forests are located in different states (Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) of India, collaborative efforts should be made to protect this trans-boundary landscape," the study says.

Did tigers drive out Asiatic lions?

Gadhvi has further stated in his petition said that the Apex Court has not been fully informed about the co-existence of tiger and lion. Due to the lack of overlapping territories, there isn't much evidence to throw light on the interaction between the two big cats. However, several noted naturalists have suggested that tigers may have contributed to the decline of Asiatic Lions in India, the petition states.

Apart from quoting Indian writers, Gadhvi has also cited several foreign authors. Kenneth Anderson, author of 'The Call of the Man-Eater', had noted in 1961 that the tiger had originally come down from the north -from Siberia and Manchuria. "The lion slowly began to lose ground before that more active animal," Anderson had stated.

Gadhvi's petition further states that, in 1965, Richard Perry in his book, 'The World of the Tiger', had stated: "If tigers arrived in India later than lions, as is possible, then there is every probability that they were the containing factor." Further, Jack Denton Scott in his book 'Speaking Wildly' states: "Often larger and stronger than the lion, the tiger is credited with driving it from India."

The petition has also annexed a painting of lion-tiger conflict painted in the 18th and 19th century.

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