Monday, June 29, 2015

Lion translocation panel may join Rajasthan as member.

AHMEDABAD: The 12-member committee formed following the Supreme Court order of April 2013 to oversee the translocation of lions from Gir in Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur in MP, has now decided to include a 13th member — the principal chief conservator of forest of Rajasthan.

The move is significant, especially in the light of the recent development where six tigers were documented moving through the natural corridor from Ranthambore to Madavpur leading up to Kun-Palpur. Sources in the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) said that joining Rajasthan as a party was a significant move as the opinion of Rajasthan would be sought on the dangers that translocating lions to Kuno-Palpur could pose to the tigers in that natural corridor.

The MoEF official said that the movement of tigers has led to a new development and there has been no instance of these two species staying together. "Hence, we will have to look at the entire issue afresh even as the issue has not been discussed at length in the apex court. The court has just quoted Asad Rahmani of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) that the presence of tigers would not be detrimental for lion translocation," he said.
Before the Supreme Court, Gujarat has been claiming the presence of tigers but the fact that both tiger and lion cannot stay together was not taken up in the apex court. A senior member of the committee said, "After the recent development of two tigers already making their home in Kuno -Palpur and another four being on their way to Kuno, there have been fears that if lions were translocated to Kuno-Palpur, there could be a conflict between the two predators and this will result in loss of animals. Further, if the tiger can move from Ranthambore to Kuno-Palpur, the lion too can use the same natural corridor and can also move to Ranthambore from Kuno. So the 12-member committee wants to know the preparedness of Rajasthan forest department for such a situation."

In the next meeting scheduled in June last week or early July, the committee will request the MoEF to join Rajasthan as a member. Another senior official said even in the last meeting, the 12-member committee had sought the opinion of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) over the translocation of lions to Kuno. The members wanted to know if the NTCA wanted to develop Kuno as a tiger reserve.

In May 2014, a fresh petition was filed in the Supreme Court, suggesting that the proposed translocation of Gir lions to Kuno-Palpur might harm tigers moving from Rajasthan to MP. It also suggested that the arrival of the tigers in India might have been responsible for the decline in the population of Asiatic lions in the country.

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