Even after evacuating 344 sq km area for Palpur-Kuno sanctuary and an additional 900 sq km of buffer zone, the Gujarat government is still not prepared to part with its Asiatic lions. Incidentally, both the states are BJP-ruled.
As Asiatic lions exist only in Gir sanctuary, experts have often expressed apprehensions that high rate of inbreeding and less genetic diversity could make them susceptible to epidemics and make them extinct. In 1993, WII conducted a study to identify the best area for translocation of lions and they found Kuno-Palpur in Sheopur district, nearly 140 kms from Gwalior, most suitable. In this light, a proposal was mooted to translocate a few of the Gir lions to MP in 2000. Wildlife activist Fayaz Khudsar filed a public interest petition in the apex court in 2006 and sought translocation of Gir lions to MP. In April 2013, the apex court in a judgment directed that the lions be translocated to Kuno-Palpur in MP.
Supreme Court-constituted committee and the Madhya Pradesh government held a meeting, after which the panel found the environment at Palpur-Kuno sanctuary fit for the Asiatic lions.
Forest department officials said that only political will is required for translocating the Gujarat lions. "Madhya Pradesh has addressed all concerns raised for over a decade by Gujarat officials with regard to the issue," a senior forest department official said.
The Gujarat Forest Department has admitted that more than 160 Asiatic lions have died in the Gir forest in the last two years since the 2015 census put their population at record 523.
This included death of 95 lions from April 2015 to March 2016, and another 67 from April last year to date. What was more shocking of the 95 deaths recorded last year was that 25 died unnaturally, including of electrocution by coming in contact with live wires put up by farmers to save their crops from herbivorous animals, and falling into wells left open by farmers in their fields, the department revealed in a reply to a query under the RTI Act.
More than 2 decades have passed but Asiatic Lions have not been translocated to Kuno Palpur . Kuno is one of the best habitats possible for the Asiatic Lions to roar !
The opposition has been raising the issue but no steps have been taken for the translocation of Asiatic Lion to Kuno Palpur .