Thursday, April 25, 2013

SC orders shifting of some Gujarat lions to MP jungle.

Mahesh Trivedi / 16 April 2013

AHMEDABAD - Brushing aside the Gujarat government’s blatant refusal to shift some of its 411 rare Asiatic lions to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Centre to translocate the endangered animals within six months.
The number of big cats to be relocated from their only abode in the Gir forests to their new home in the Kuno wildlife sanctuary will be decided by a committee of wildlife experts.
“The species which is on the verge of extinction needs a second home,” the apex court ruled responding to a public interest litigation filed by an environmental group which favoured the shifting to avoid extinction of the extremely endangered species in case of a calamity, a disease or a disaster like fire.
At least 92 lions have died in the past two years in Gir. Intense conservation efforts by the Gujarat government over the past 50 years have brought them back from the brink of extinction.
The two BJP-ruled states have been at loggerheads over the translocation of the lions. Gujarat has been arguing that the Kuno reserve is not suitable for lions as it also houses tigers, and its weather and environment are also not conducive for survival of the majestic animals listed as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.
While the Narendra Modi government was still studying the verdict, BJP leader Jagdish Bhavsar told Khaleej Times that Madhya Pradesh had failed to protect its own tigers in Panna sanctuary and the lions from the Gir forest might meet the same fate. “There’s no guarantee that lions will adopt Kuno as their new home. Punjab had tried a lion safari project with zoo lions, but all lions died one by one”, he said.
But Madhya Pradesh, which has been making desperate attempts to acquire a few of Gir’s lions to boost tourism in the name of conservation, has claimed that it is equipped with all the necessary infrastructure, expertise and environment for translocating the lions to its own sanctuary.

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