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Lions from Gir will not be moved to MP
Haresh Pandya in Rajkot | February 06, 2007 09:15 IST
The Gujarat government has ended all speculations by announcing that not a single lion from the Gir forest in the Saurashtra peninsula will be shifted to the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
The decision has been welcomed by wildlife activists and nature lovers.
"The decision has been taken keeping in mind that in the past, too, the shifting of lions to Madhya Pradesh had proved disastrous. Translocation of several lions from Gujarat to MP first took place in 1974 and again in 1981. Besides the climate of Kuno-Palpur, which did not suit the lions, it was also observed that the lions just could not live with tigers. Some of them were reported to have been fatally attacked by tigers, which are usually stronger than them," said a forest official.
"The issue of translocation of the Gujarat lions to MP was raised during the two recent advisory committee meetings chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But we made our stand clear and stated in no uncertain terms that Gujarat was not interested in shifting any of its lions to MP," said Gujarat Forest and Environment Minister Mangubhai Patel.
Dr Singh has always maintained that the decision of whether or not to shift lions should be taken by the governments of Gujarat and MP in consultation with forest authorities and wildlife experts, keeping the interest and well-being of the animals in mind.
Gir, which is spread across 1450 sq km area (including the Mitiyala region), is now getting too congested for the lions, which keep stepping out of their principal habitat in search of prey.
They have been frequently attacking cattle and other livestock in hamlets and villages on the periphery of the sanctuary. In recent times, cases of human beings being chased and attacked by lions have also been reported.
To ease further congestion in Gir, the state government has now decided to develop the 192.35 sq km Barda Hills between Jamnagar and Porbandar, which have no corridors to the renowned forest, as an alternative and independent home for the Asiatic lions.
"To begin with, five pairs of lions will be let loose on the Barda Hills in a few months," said Patel.
Barda Hills, which is 125 km away from Gir, have a rich population of the blue bull and wild boar.
The forest department has already started a breeding centre for deer, spotted deer and rabbits. The idea is to provide a healthy and familiar atmosphere for the lions; according to forest authorities, the sanctuary will be ready for lions in about a year or so.
Plans are also afoot to develop another lion sanctuary in the 125 sq km area between Savarkundala and Mahuva in the Bhavnagar district in the near future.