Thursday, August 28, 2014
Two lion experts from Gujarat on national wildlife board.
AHMEDABAD: Voice against translocation of lions of Gujarat to MP is getting louder. After three petitions were admitted in the apex court challenging the translocation, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has got two representatives from Gujarat — both known advocates of anti-translocation.
Former Gujarat forest official and lion expert H S Singh and director of Gujarat Ecological, Education and Research Foundation (GEER) Bharat Pathak have been appointed to NBWL a fortnight ago. "Bharat Pathak, who has served in Gir, will represent GEER as its director," forest and environment minister Ganpat Vasava said.
There are now three voices from Gujarat on the apex wildlife body, including PM Narendra Modi, who is the de facto chairman of NBWL. However, only time will tell whether this will change the line of central government on the contentious issue of translocating lions to Kuno Palpur.
Singh told TOI, "Kuno Palpur used to be home to lions between 1350 and 1850. This period was termed as the mild ice-age. Now, the temperature in MP often goes beyond 45°C which is not conducive for the big cats. In contrast, the Gir temperature hovers around 36-42°C even during hottest months."
Though Pathak was unavailable for comment on Monday, he has in the past opposed the translocation. "Gir lions are a matter of pride for the people of Saurashtra. Shifting big cats will upset the delicate balance of tolerance and affection that the people share with lions," he had said.
On April 15, 2013, the SC had ordered translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur. Following this, Gujarat had filed a review petition in October which was rejected. Gujarat has filed a curative petition which is pending before the SC. Two more petitions opposing translocation were filed by NGO Wildlife Conservation Trust and Priyavrat Gadhvi, a bio-technologist.