Gujarat foresters relieved as MP marks Kuno-Palpur for tigers
The Times of India City
Ahmedabad: The news that Madhya Pradesh government has decided to develop Kuno-Palpur as a tiger reserve has brought relief to officials of the forest department in Gujarat, who had been fighting a long battle in the apex court over the issue of translocation of lions to Kuno-Palpur. There are 523 lions in Gujarat. It was in April 2013 that the Supreme Court had formed a 12-member committee to oversee the translocation of lions to Kuno from Sasan Gir. The issue is pending with the committee. Meanwhile, comes the gladdening news.
Officials from National Tiger Conservation Authority have also informed their counterparts in Madhya Pradesh that they should in fact develop Kuno-Palpur as a tiger reserve, as it was an important sanctuary for the movement of tigers from Ranthambore to Kuno. The movement of tigers from Ranthambore national park in Rajasthan to Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary has already established a functional natural corridor between the two sanctuaries.
At present, one tiger is already residing in Kuno, while another two are in the periphery of Kuno-Palpur and they are moving towards the Kuno sanctuary.
Sources in Madhya Pradesh government said that recently Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, had made a statement that it would take 25 years for translocation of lions from Sasan Gir to Kuno Palpur. This statement led the MP government to rethink priorities and decide to have tigers in Kuno-Palpur, rather than lions.
Reacting to the news, officials in Gujarat forest department said that it was impossible to translocate the lions to Kuno in wake of the new guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "There are several studies that need to be undertaken before translocating lions to Kuno. The 12-member committee had in its first meeting in 2013 accepted that the translocation will be based on the new guidelines. MP will have to carry out several studies, and also have an area of 700 sq km against the existing 350 sq km area," said an officer.
Sunny Shah, landscape coordinator, WWF India for Rajasthan and north MP, and a person intimately associated with Kuno landscape said, "Kuno is a pristine habitat for big cats, and being close to Ranthambhore, we can create a meta population for the last semi-arid population of tigers. Kuno has achieved its population goal of preys, and now waiting for predators. There are already 2-3 tigers in and around Kuno, and there's opportunity to double the tigers there. We have plans to build it as a tiger reserve."