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Gujarat Big Cat's Roar to Get Louder as Modi Pitches for Project Lion in Budget.
Published: 16th February 2015 06:00 AM
Last Updated: 16th February 2015 08:43 AM
NEW DELHI:The Asiatic lion’s roar will soon get louder. On the
directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Ministry of Environment
and Forests (MoEF) is preparing to launch Project Lion on the lines of
Project Tiger for the conservation of the jungle king. Financial support
will be sought in the budget for the purpose.
Modi has taken up
the task to kick-start the efforts through proposed Central funding. A
concrete plan for the conservation of the lion that exists only in Gir
Forest in Junagadh, Gujarat, across Asia has been demanded by
conservationists for long. The last lion census by the Gujarat
government in 2010 pegs their numbers at 411.
A note signed by S Kannan, economic advisor, MoEF, has been circulated
to the divisional head of the wildlife department in the Ministry of
Environment and Forests to come up with ideas for Project Lion, to be
included in the detailed plan. According to a senior MoEF official,
Project Lion is a priority.“Conservation efforts are needed as
lions are under threat and history shows that an epidemic in Serengeti
National Park in Tanzania in 1994 wiped off all the lions in a few days.
This can occur in Gujarat as high inbreeding and low genetic diversity
could make them susceptible to epidemics, thereby threatening their
existence,” said the official.
The Asiatic lion was added to the
list of critically endangered species in 2000 by the International Union
for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) but was taken off in 2005 after their
numbers increased to over 250.
However, the Supreme Court, based
on a petition in 2013, has asked the MoEF to move 80 lions to Madhya
Pradesh from Gujarat but nothing much seems to have moved so far with
Gujarat unwilling to part with the lions known as the pride of the
A meeting of the expert committee on lion translocation
constituted following the Supreme Court order was held on February 11,
after almost 10 months, under the chairmanship of Vinod Ranjan,
additional director general (ADG) Wildlife (MoEF) to take stock of the
progress of the project. The 12-member committee has been asked to
submit its views within a month.
“While the lion translocation
project is moving at a slow pace with details still being worked out
between Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, the conservation efforts need to
pick up. The Centre has now taken up the task to protect the lion
through proposed Central funding for conservation, which will complement
funds allocated by the Gujarat government,” said the official.