With no hurdles, Madhya Pradesh officials optimistic of getting Gir lions
THE TIMES OF INDIA
BHOPAL: Forest officials from Madhya Pradesh are optimistic that a final decision would be taken to shift Gir lions from Gujarat to Palpur Kuno sanctuary in the state. A meeting of the chief wildlife wardens is scheduled in New Delhi on February 15 and February 16.
Officials in the state secretariat here said there is no administrative reason left and only political will is required for translocation of Gujarat lions to state. MP has already addressed the all concerns raised over the years by Gujarat official on the issue. The issue has been lingering for over a decade, now.
Madhya Pradesh wants at least 2 lion prides, which means a total of around 12 lions, including cubs. Principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) Jitendra Agrawal said the state is continuing its efforts to get the Gir lions and believes that the outcome would be positive.
State had hosted a meeting of 12-member committee constituted to look into the translocation of Asiatic lions from the Gir sanctuary at Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Sheopur district in December last year. Before the inspection, shortage of prey base was one of the major objections raised by Gujarat. State has declared 700 sq km as a protected area to resolve the issue and the committee members moved area and checked the prey base.
Officials said committee members could not point any issue major issue during the visit that could hold back the translocation of lions.
The move of visiting Kuno-Palpur was viewed as a step towards finalising the translocation, but officials got retired and transferred in Gujarat resulting in the process being held up, claimed officials.
"We have given enough time to the Gujarat government. Despite a standing order from the Supreme Court, they are reluctant. Gujrat will have to say 'yes' or 'no' this time so that we can take further initiative," said an officer in the state's wildlife unit.
In the past Gujarat also raised some issues regarding core and buffer area of the Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary, which has now been sorted out. MP officials claim with an increase in prey base, Kuno has become one of the most suitable places for lions.