Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bengal Tiger, Asiatic lion and African cheetah: Rajasthan to have all three big cats.

DNA | Apr 16, 2013, 07:59AM IST
Jaipur: The apex court’s decision has rekindled the hope of Rajasthan being honoured by a sacred distinction of being the first state to be a home to all the three Panthera species of the subcontinent. Though, its plan to develop Cheetah Park stands shelved after SC’s refusal to allow African cheetahs from being brought to the country. 
More than fifteen years back, the Rajasthan government had tried to settle Panthera leo Persica, better known as Asiatic Lions in the state’s sanctuaries. In 1996-97, Government of India (GOI) started a program to identify potential areas for translocation of these lions from Gir to some other forest area. 
This was done to ensure that the already endangered population, which was confined only to Gir forest, does not get wiped out due to Tsunami or any disease. Kamal Nath, who was the then minister of environment and forests identified Kuno-Palpur area, on border of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as a potential site for translocation. 
In the following year (1998), the Rajasthan government also constituted a committee of experts which studies the animals at Gir and submitted a report. The report, which was handed over to GOI, narrated that Rajasthan has a better potential than Kuno-Palpur. “The committee asked the GOI to review the choice of site. It mentioned Darrah sanctuary near Kota and Sitamata sanctuary near Chittorgarh as potential sites, since the habitat and prey base was favorable for population expansion” said Rajpal Singh, member- State board for wildlife and a member of the state committee for relocation of lion in Rajasthan.
Interestingly, Asiatic lions were found in the Kota-Bundi region (Darrah sanctuary area) during the British Raj also. Historically, the area was a preffered ground for royal families to shoot lions and tigers. Recently Darrah sanctuary was included in project tiger area but the government can rethink over introducing lions in the area. “It will be a great boon for the wildlife and for the state also if Rajasthan gets its share of lions” said Singh.

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