Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gujarat floods boost MP’s lion translocation dream.

BHOPAL: Surprise flood killing eight Asiatic lions in Gujarat has rekindled hopes for Madhya Pradesh government, which has been trying since long to get a pride of big cats translocated to Kuno-palpur sanctuary in Sheopur district.

"Since a natural disaster has left eight lions dead and several missing, Gujarat cannot rule out the fear of an epidemic, which can pose a threat to the lions. We would request the Union government to shift some of them to MP at the earliest," said a senior wildlife officer wishing anonymity.

The move to relocate big cats, first mooted in 2000, has been hanging fire because Gujarat steadfastly refused to part with the majestic lions.
As chief minister, Narendra Modi refused to entertain any request from Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to shift the lions till the apex court on April 15, 2013 set a six-month deadline to the environment ministry to relocate the predators to Kuno. The court held that the species was under the threat of extinction and needed a second home. But the court's order has not been followed.

According to our Rajkot (Gujarat) bureau, eight lions have been found dead during flash flood in the last 48 hours in Bhavnagar and Amreli district.

With forest department expecting more carcasses, over 30 teams have been formed to fan out in the areas where lions were frequently seen in Bhavnagar and Amreli.

"This is something we have been trying to highlight for the last many years. We are worried about post-flood situation which may cause an epidemic," says wildlife activist Ajay Dubey. He has sent a mail to Union environment minister Prakash Javdekar to ensure compliance of Supreme Court order.

After Modi moved from Gandhi Nagar to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh's hopes of getting the magnificent species on its land had faded. Moreover, Gujarat government moved a curative petition in Supreme Court as its last legal resort to retain its Asiatic lions. Two Gujarat-based NGOs have also filed separate petitions challenging translocation of lions to Kuno, which is pending.

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