Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Corpus fund to protect Asiatic Lions.

Manas Dasgupta

Gujarat move to counter poaching

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat Government has created a corpus fund for the protection of the Asiatic Lions at its only abode — the Gir sanctuary in Junagadh district of the Saurashtra region in the state.

Stunned by the recent series of incidents of poaching of the Gir lions, the State Government has initiated the measure particularly to blunt the criticism of the animal lovers who want a part of the lion population to be shifted to Madhya Pradesh for the safety of the species threatened with extinction.

According to an official spokesman of the State Government, the corpus fund has been initiated with an initial allocation of Rs. five lakh per annum to provide rewards to the local population to encourage them to cooperate with the government machinery, or fight against the illegal poachers to save the animal.

The spokesman admitted that the amount allocated was inadequate for the huge sanctuary covering over a 1,400 square kilometre area, but said the funds could be readjusted as and when necessary.

According to the reward scheme, an amount of Rs. three lakh would be paid from the fund to the next of kin of anyone killed while trying to catch a poacher or save a lion.

An equivalent compensation would also be paid to kin of an informant killed by a poacher.

In case of injury, the reward would be Rs. 50,000 or more depending on the extent of injury to be determined by the concerned civil surgeon and Rs. two lakh to an informant if it led to the arrest of any illegal poacher.

The fund would be kept at the disposal of the State Chief Conservator of Forests to ensure prompt disbursement.

During the recent months, incidents of poaching of at least eight lions were confirmed by the official machinery besides the loss of about a dozen other lions claimed to have died accidentally or due to natural causes.

The government had often suspected involvement of some local people in about 300 odd villages dotting the sanctuary periphery, in the illegal poaching.

It was believed that the illegal poaching could never be stopped without the active involvement of the local people.

In the last census conducted two years ago, the population of the Asiatic Lions in the Gir sanctuary was placed at 359.


No comments: