Gir lions to roar in Madhya Pradesh
New Delhi: In a setback to the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to translocate some of the Asiatic lions from Gir sanctuary to Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
A bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and CK Prasad has given six months time to the wildlife authorities concerned for translocating the lions from Gir sanctuary to Kuno Palpur reserve.
“The species which is on the verge of extinction needs a second home,” the apex court ruled responding to a PIL filed by an environmental group on whether the Asiatic lions should be shifted to Kuno to avoid extinction of the endangered species in case of a calamity or disease.
The court has also constituted an expert body to decide the number of lions to be relocated and closely monitor their translocation in Madhya Pradesh.
The court, however, has ruled against the introduction of African cheetahs in India, saying preservation of critically endangered native species, like the wild buffalo and the Great Indian Bustard, should be given primacy. Under its Rs 300 crore Cheetah Reintroduction Programme, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had proposed the introduction of the African Cheetahs in the country.
The two BJP-governed states have been at loggerheads over the translocation of the Asiatic lions.
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had asked the Gujarat government to send a few lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur sanctuary. However, the Gujarat government had argued against the need to move the Asiatic lions, saying that the Kuno reserve isn’t suitable for lions as it houses tigers, and its weather and environment aren’t conducive for their survival.
Asiatic lion is listed as endangered by International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based on the small population size and exists as a single isolated population in Gujarat. Currently, there are around 400 Asiatic lions in Gujarat`s Gir sanctuary.
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