Palpur-Kuno Sanctuary in Sheopur district is “ideally suited” for relocation of endangered Asiatic lions found in Gujarat’s Gir Sanctuary, a Supreme Court appointed expert committee has observed.
The 18-member committee, led by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) additional director general Bisen Singh Bonal, made the observation after visiting the sanctuary on Sunday and Monday.
The committee was constituted by the apex court in 2013 after a wildlife activist filed an PIL before it in 2006 seeking relocation of Asiatic lion from Gir to Palpur Kuno.
Activist Fayaz Khudsar had approached the court on the basis of a WII study, released in 2001, that Palpur-Kuno was best suited for Asiatic lions’ relocation. WII is an autonomous institution under the union environment and forest ministry.
Bonal said the sanctuary has developed into a full-fledged home for Asiatic lions and all members of the committee have unanimously approved it to become Asiatic lions’ second home.
“The sanctuary has extended prey base accompanied by wide variety of grasses, shrubs and dense forest cover etc. The sanctuary is ideally suited, even from the safety perspective, for the big cats,” Bonal told reporters.
He, however, did not specify any time-frame for relocation of lions. A final call will be taken at the highest level, he added.
“We will submit the report to the central government. Besides, more discussion with wildlife experts in Gujarat and Delhi will also take place. Sanctuary field staff will be given training on anti-poaching aspect and other issues,” he said.
Sources, meanwhile, said 10 lions and six lionesses will be shifted to Palpur-Kuno after final approval.