Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shifting Gir lions will bring disaster: Experts.

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013, 10:35 IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
The issue of translocation of Asiatic Lions from Gir sanctuary to Madhya Pradesh has hit another wall — this time that of an NGO. The social organisation has opposed the move on various grounds, including the fact that most of earlier translocation attempts carried out in independent India had failed, often endangering the animals.

The NGO’s analysis of the arguments, on which the translocation of lions was finally allowed, shows that several factors relating to shifting the big cat were either not considered or ignored while allowing the translocation.

The NGO, Empower Foundation’s analysis titled — ‘Failure of the proposed lion translocation to Kuno Palpur, Madhya Pradesh’ —  also found that the government has not strongly positioned the fact that the lion habitat in Gujarat goes much beyond Gir.

Jalpesh Mehta and his team who carried out the analysis said the argument regarding an epidemic killing the entire populace of lion does not hold true as the lions are not concentrated in Gir alone, but have dispersed far and wide.

“If an epidemic can kill all the lions, the same thing can happen to all the tigers in the MP-Rajasthan-Maharashtra belt and Karnataka-Kerala-Tamil Nadu belt as the distance in these areas is more or less similar between Gir and other areas where lions are found,” said Mehta.

The NGO  also talks of the stress suffered by animals during capture and transfer to new locations apart from citing several cases of failed translocations particularly those concerning carnivores. 

The NGO argues that there is no history of any major successful translocation in India. The study mentions 10 cases of failed translocations of elephants, gaurs, leopards, rhinos, African and Asiatic Lions (from Gir to Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary in UP in 1956), which show only 16% success rate in a study of 119 cases of translocated animals. In the rest of the cases, the animals returned causing major conflicts, dying or being killed by locals due to severe man-animal conflicts.

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