Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gujarat lions disappear from UP forest.

In a mysterious development, the three Asiatic lions brought from the Gir forests of Gujarat to Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary in Kashi Wildlife Division have vanished.
The lions were last counted in 1965 and there number was 11 at that time. Even the Kashi Wildlife Division officials have no idea or recorded facts about the fate of these lions.

"There is no record with the department about the disappearance of the lions," said a forest official of Kashi Wildlife division. "It is believed that either they would have fallen prey to the hunters or migrated to nearby jungles of Bihar," said the officer.

"As the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, was not in force at that time, there was no effective control on hunting of wild animals," said forest officer of Kashi Wildlife Division Chandra Shekar Pandey, expressing his worst fear over the fate of the lions.

"Lions were released in that region years back and probably all those animals died. We do not have any records maintained of that time, so it's difficult to say what happened of them. Moreover, enforcement was not strong at that time and there must not have been proper planning to release them," said PCCF (wildlife), UP, Rupak De.

In 1965, the Indian Wildlife Board had introduced the concept of reintroduction for purposes of conservation of Asiatic lions. The UP government at that time had offered to host a population in the Chakia forests was accepted.

In 1956 a lion and two lionesses were captured from Gir and were shifted to Chandraprabha sanctuary.
The lions prospered initially as their numbers increased to our in 1958, five in 1960, seven in 1962 and 11 in 1965, but after that they disappeared.

Later, eight Gir lions -- four males and four females - were brought from Gujarat's Junagadh and Hyderabad zoos to UP under animal exchange programme. Three pairs were sent to Lucknow zoo and one was put up at the Kanpur zoo. Later, one pair was shifted to the Etwah lion safari in April.

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