Experts to visit Kuno-Palpur for assessing MP's claims
The Times of India City
AHMEDABAD: Crucial meetings on lion translocation are going to be held on December 17 and 18 at Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh. This is the first time that the 12-member committee is holding its meeting outside Delhi to ascertain the preparedness of MP for lion translocation.
The committee will inspect the site and assess the claims of Madhya Pradesh about its prey base. The state has declared 700 sq km as a protected area.
Sources said that the prey base, which was presented before the court in 2013, was nearly 350 sq km, which is the core sanctuary area. However, the committee for the first time will move in the 700 sq km area and will check the prey base.
The move to visit Kuno-Palpur is being viewed as a step further towards finalizing the translocation after a Gujarat official and now PCCF, J A Khan, went on record saying that they were open for translocation. The officials further said that this is also a golden chance for Gujarat officials to examine the area closely and raise fresh objections.
The apex court had in 2013 formed an expert group to oversee the translocation of lions to Kuno-Palpur from Gir. There are 523 lions in Gujarat as per May 2015 census.
Sources said that during several meetings of the core group, Gujarat had raised objections that 350 sq km area was too small to translocate the lions and should be increased. The core group in its report accepted the argument of the Gujarat government and pointed out that the sanctuary area was insufficient for the lions.
The officials said that Gujarat should now demand a prey base study in the entire 700 sq km area. There are several studies which have to be undertaken before translocation as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but some the expert committee members are against the study.
According to the officials, disregarding the guidelines set by the IUCN will amount to violation of the apex court order which had clearly stated that the translocation has to be carried within the guidelines of IUCN. The environment and forest ministry, in a response in Lok Sabha, had said that the matter of relocating lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh was a "long-term action", starting from preparing the translocation area in Madhya Pradesh to identifying the lions in Gujarat. The whole programme encompasses action for over 25 years.