The WII's is carrying out a longer study on the Kuno habitat to assess the status of prey, predators, disease prevalence among carnivore communties, human impacts and people's perceptions to lion reintroduction. The study is as per directives of the Supreme Court, which in April 2013, order translocation of lions. The SC's order though was challenged by Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot.
The WII's report to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change said that even as they were carrying out a long-tern study, "Lion reintroduction within the sanctuary part of Kuno (345 sq.km) should not wait for the completion of the current study since earlier ecological assessments by WII had already validated the potential of that area to support about 40 lions."
The report goes on to add, "The current study in concurrence with the lion reintroduction exercises would serve as a benchmark for post-release long-term monitoring of lions, prey and other predators and would be mostly helpful in quantifying social and ecological status of landscape outside the sanctuary boundary which lions are likely to explore once the population reaches its carrying capacity of 40 lions inside the sanctuary after about 15 years."
The translocation of the world's only thriving Asiatic Lion population from Gir national park in Saurashtra to Kuno in MP has been at the centre of a raging debate.
Pride of GujaratGujarat, throughout Narendra Modi's tenure as Chief Minister, made it clear that it was not willing to part the lions, which is the symbol of Gujarati asmita (pride) and is firm on this stand. Wildlife biologists and activists on the other hand have stressed despite the fledgling population, Gir is an island for lions and reintroducing them in a new habitat will aid long-term conservation. Last year, stormy rainfall and ensuing floods killed 10 lions and hundreds of ungulates such as Nilgai.