Kuno wildlife sanctuary to be notified national park
THE TIMES OF INDIA
BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh forest department is likely to notify Kuno wildlife sanctuary as a national park — the last condition imposed by a Supreme Court-appointed committee for translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir.
In January this year, Gujarat's forest department had placed its objections before this 12-member committee and demanded that 36 studies be completed before lions can be transferred to MP.
"Converting this wildlife sanctuary into a national park was the last condition we were asked to comply with. So this is being done. I don't think there is anything else left," said a senior official in the forest department.
Issues like prey base, habitat, vegetation and weather are said to be conductive for shifting of lions to Kuno. The MP forest department had promised to complete all formal processes of declaring Kuno as a 'national park' by the end of February, but failed to do so following varied administrative problems. "The notification declaring Kuno as a national park is likely to be issued in a few days" said the officer, adding there won't be any further delay. The expert committee had visited Kuno last December.
After spending nearly five hours at the sanctuary, the panel members found the atmosphere in Kuno-Palpur conducive to the shifting of lions." Gujarat, too, could not question much on MP's preparedness to host the lions
Gujarat government had moved a curative petition in Supreme Court as its last legal resort to retain its Asiatic lions. This was also dismissed. But then in another blow to MP's hopes, two Gujarat-based NGOs filed separate petitions challenging translocation of lions to Kuno.
When shortage of prey base was cited as one of the major objections, the state declared 700 sq km as a protected area to resolve the issue. Sources said the prey base, which was presented before the court in 2013, was nearly 350 sq. km, which is the core sanctuary area. While MP won the eight-year-long legal battle with Gujarat in 2013, the latter had been dilly-dallying compliance.