Kuno not needed; Gujarat has achieved its goals, hints paper
THE TIMES OF INDIA
AHMEDABAD: The 12-member expert committee set up by the Supreme Court to oversee transalocation of lion from Gir to Kuno-Palpur in Madhya Pradesh, has stated that Kuno Palpur was suitable for translocation.
However, a research paper published by National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) member HS Singh seems to imply that Kuno site had become unnecessary as its objectives had been achieved by Gujarat.
Singh's research paper says that the Kuno site was designed to increase the lion population beyond 500 and to improve the position of Asiatic Lions from 'Critically Endangered' to 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List.
Both these objectives that were planned two decades back have already been achieved by Gujarat through its conservation practices.
The research paper further states that the population of lion is growing only because the people of Gujarat take pride in them and feel that they own these lions. Conservation of wildlife is deep-rooted in the culture and tradition of Saurashtra, the paper says.
However, despite their growing population, the lions face threat from development of industries and ports, mining activities, and rail and high-speed roads in the coastal areas. The increased frequency and speed of goods trains on Pivavav-Rajula line is a new threat as 10 lions were killed during 2013-15.
The paper also states that industrial and mining activities around Veraval coast had forced the lions out of the area.
Pipavav port and related activities near Kaj wetlands in Kodinar taluka are a source of disturbance to a group of lions settled there. Further, change in land-use pattern and disappearance of wastelands and community lands are other problems affecting the lions.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced conversion of six state roads as National Highways. Of these new highways, the Una-Chotila highway passes close to the sanctuary. The research papers states that the road network, and widening and converting some of them as high-speed roads are a matter of concern for lion conservationists.
People around the Gir forests and some of the satellite areas are aware of the habits of the lions and have developed an understanding to live with them. Villagers in some of the new satellite areas have little understanding of the behaviour of the lion. They need to be educated, the paper says.