Friday, July 19, 2013

Translocating animals outside home turf is high risk: International Union for Conservation of Nature.

AHMEDABAD: The latest guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on translocation of wildlife could prove to be a major roadblock for Madhya Pradesh's lion dreams. The world's oldest and most trusted global environmental organization says shifting animals outside their indigenous range "is high risk".

The guidelines, issued on July 12, warn, "There is a high risk of failure if the species originate from environments markedly different to the destination area. The risk is accentuated by the fact that the animals may be poorly adapted to the destination area."

Gujarat has resisted Madhya Pradesh's demand for Gir lions for the past decade. The Supreme Court had ordered translocation of lions to the Kuno Palpur sanctuary in its April 15 order after which Gujarat has filed a review petition.

Under the guidelines, shifting lions out of Gujarat would be classified as 'assisted colonization' where the species translocated is outside the indigenous range. The guidelines specify, "Translocations of organisms outside of their indigenous range are considered to be especially high risk given the numerous examples of species released outside their indigenous ranges subsequently becoming invasive, often with massively adverse impacts."

IUCN cautions that such translocation should be taken up only in cases where the risk is low and that the idea should be abandoned if there is any doubt. "If extinction of the species in the proposed destination area occurred long ago, or if conservation introductions are being considered for the first time, local communities may not develop a connect with a species new to them, and hence may oppose the move. In such cases, special effort to counter such attitudes should be made well in advance of any release," the guidelines said.

TOI has regularly reported on how both licensed and unlicensed guns are commonplace in villages around Kuno with the government making no effort to sensitize the people about lion translocation. Besides, in the early 1900s, African lions had been introduced here but the local populace had hunted them out of existence within a year.

The new guidelines say, "Multiple parties involved in most translocations have their own mandates, priorities and agendas. Unless these are aligned through effective facilitation and leadership, unproductive conflict may fatally undermine translocation implementation or success."

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