Wednesday, March 14, 2012
No move to make lion national animal: Centre.
AHMEDABAD: The Centre has in the Rajya Sabha (RS) made it clear that there was no proposal to consider lion as national animal, replacing the tiger.
In reply to a question raised by Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani, minister for environment and forests Jayanthi Natarajan said, "Bengal tiger continues to be our national animal and there is no such proposal under consideration with the government to replace it with the Asiatic lion."
The government's reply stated that tiger was adopted as national animal in place of lion at a meeting of the Indian Board for Wildlife held in 1972. The main reasons included that tiger was important worldwide, it existed in as many as 16 states in the country and there was a need for its strict protection. However, lion was found only in one state. The issue was expected to be discussed in the RS, but it was adjourned because of the pandemonium on the issue of human rights of Tamil population in Sri Lanka.
The government in its reply said that Asiatic lions are found only in Gujarat and the population of lions is estimated to be around 411 as per the 2010 census. The planning commission had approved in principle a project for 'Conservation of Asiatic lion in Greater Gir Region,' which is spread over a period of five years. The total project cost was Rs 262.36 crore, which included central assistance of Rs 236.63 crore. The project also included creation of infrastructure for promotion of eco-tourism in Gir forest.
The RS member said Gir lions have a strong case to be a national animal. It is on the national emblem, which is sufficient for making it as national animal. A demand was also made to have a high power 'Project Gir Lions' headed by prime minister on the line of 'Project Tiger.'