Lions not in, Madhya Pradesh moves to populate Kuno with tigers

  • Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2016 19:02 IST
Javadekar said the entire programme of translocating Gir lions to MP will take 25 years to complete. (File photo)

The Madhya Pradesh government is considering introducing tigers in the Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary instead of waiting for the Gujarat government to translocate lions, says a note on the website of the state forest department.

The note in the sub-link titled “Special Conservation Initiatives” said: “If the stalemate is not resolved expeditiously, the state (government) may have to consider introducing tigers in the sanctuary as wasting such a prime a habitat is not in the interest of conservation of wildlife in the state…”.

“The government of Madhya Pradesh is very keen to have the lions at the earliest as the state has done everything expected from it, including the relocation of 1,545 poor families, to help conserve this national heritage…”, the note said.

In December last year, the union ministry of forest and environment cleared its stand on the state’s demand to translocate lions from the Gir National Park in Gujarat to the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Union forest and environment minister Prakash Javadekar said translocation of lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh was a “long-term action” and will take more than 25 years.

The note points out that though the state government has asked the Centre to transfer a pride of lions from Gujarat at the earliest, “the government of Gujarat is somehow not inclined to provide the animals for starting the lion population in Kuno and the Centre is now seriously considering the option of using zoo bred animals of certified Asiatic lineage to start the new lion population…”

Narendra Kumar, principal chief conservator of forests, said the suggestion to introduce tigers in Kuno-Palpur came from the National Tiger Conservation Authority after a team visited the sanctuary to study prey base.

On the Centre’s argument that the re-introduction project will take 25 years, Kumar said: “We can’t wait for such a long time. The habitat has been readied for a carnivore and we will have to do something there. However, the government is yet to discuss about the NTCA suggestion.”

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