This is an important recommendation that the 31-member Parliamentary committee that visited Gir forest on January 17 has made in its report. The committee headed by Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury has strongly pitched for a 'statutory support' to strengthen lion conservation efforts.
"The committee is of the view that the Asiatic lion is still endangered on account of its low population. A mechanism is already in place for providing statutory support for protecting tigers and elephants. In view of the decreasing number of the lions, the committee recommends that the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change must take necessary steps for providing statutory support for strengthening lion conservation and, on the lines of Project Tiger and Project Elephant, come up with a 'Project Lion' to protect lions and their habitat," the committee's report stated.
The committee had held discussion with NGOs, civil society organizations, state forest department and the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change on the issues relating to Gir forest.
The panel has also expressed apprehension about shifting of some extra lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh and lauded the state forest department's conservation efforts.
"The committee was informed by the state forest department that the Gir ecosystem can take legitimate pride in saving critically endangered Asiatic lion from the threshold of extinction at the beginning of the twentieth century by affording it a relatively safe habitat. With timely and prompt conservation efforts made by the Gujarat forest department, the Asiatic lion population increased and dispersed to other areas also and formed different distant populations in the landscape. The most important aspect of the Gir Protected Area is that it has become a very stable ecosystem with tremendous regenerating, self-supporting and self-sustaining capability due to its rich and diverse flora and fauna and intensive protection and management by the forest department. Along with lion, this region also supports many other rare and threatened flora and fauna," the report stated.