Friday, November 29, 2013

Gujarat to question MP's claims on prey base.

TNN Nov 21, 2013, 04.29AM IST
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government plans to file a curative petition seeking another look at the Supreme Court order of Tuesday which rejected the state government's review petition against the April 15 apex court order allowing the translocation of some of Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh.
The basis of Gujarat government's curative petition is likely to be its argument that the Madhya Pradesh forest department's data claiming that the prey base in Kuno-Palpur was growing was not reliable. The Gujarat forest department wants to pose a question before MP officials that if the prey base in Kuno-Palpur had increased manyfold, why was the population of predators not increasing?
Sources in the forest department said on Wednesday that the signed order of the Supreme Court's Tuesday verdict had not been received, either by the advocate or the department officials. After it gets a signed order, the department will send it for the opinion of a senior advocate. The opinion of a senior advocate is mandatory before filing of a curative petition.

"Since the department has to depend on the same arguments as it had put forward in the previous petitions, the curative petition would like to catch the MP government on its own turf - its claim that prey base in Kuno-Palpur was growing. During the hearing in the apex court, the Madhya Pradesh government had claimed that the prey base in Kuno-Palpur was more than that of Gir protected sanctuary. The April 15 Judgment has noted that prey base, including feral cattle, has increased from 63.97 animals per sq km in 2006 to 85.91 in 2011," he said. This was an increase of about 23 animals per sq km.
Gujarat officials say that the MP forest department has claimed that the population excluding feral cattle has increased from 17.5 animals per sq km in 2004 to around 70 animals in 2013. Officials said that the department will raise a question that if the prey base was increasing, why was there no permanent population of leopards and tigers in the Kuno Sanctuary? Kuno was earlier known for tiger and leopards.
The officials further said that the behaviour of lion pride would be given importance in the curative petition. The officials said that the department will also reply on the recent report of two members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee set up to monitor translocation. Citing this report, the department will again emphasize on Kuno's gun culture and drive home the point that lions are not safe in Kuno Palpur.
Apart from arguing about the new translocation guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Gujarat government will also reply on the Wildlife Protection Act. The government intends to put forward a technical argument that the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act-1972 had been violated.
The act says that no translocation process can be started without the permission of the chief wildlife warden of the state where the animal belongs. The permission has to be sought even if one animal has to be shifted for research. The Gujarat government alleges that no such permission was sought and yet the Madhya Pradesh government had started investing in Kuno-Palpur.
Gujarat forest officials said that they will also quote from the study, 'Genetic variation in Asiatic lions and Indian tigers' jointly prepared by the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad; Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata; and Center for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad.

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