A young student of biology from Delhi University, Fayaz Khudsar, was part of a study trip to Kuno Palpur in 1999, when he was told that the huge grassland would soon be second home for Asiatic lions from Gujarat.
For the next seven years, he visited the landscape several times but the ambitious project had got stuck with Narendra Modi’s Gujarati pride. In 2006, Khudsar decided to file a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking specific directions to the Gujarat government for the saving India’s unique wildlife heritage.
Seven years later, the apex court on Monday concurred with Khudsar’s view and directed the Gujarat government to part with lions from Gir in a phased manner for Kuno Palpur. “It was not a fight against a state government. I just wanted long term survival for lions so that our future generations can also see them,” he told HT after attending the hearing in the Supreme Court. “I am glad that the SC had delivered a historic judgment and Gujarat’s pride will get a second home in MP”.
Fayaz believes he has not done anything extra-ordinary and said that he was just paid back his debt to Kuno and its unique grassland. “My association with Kuno dates back to 1999 and I did my doctorate based on research on biodiversity and prey base there with special focus on Asiatic lions,” he said.
Delhi-based wildlife biologist Khudsar can claim credit for scrapping of the ecologically fragile cheetah project backed by environment ministry. It was on his application that the court constituted an independent expert committee to scientifically examine the Cheetah project. Based on the report, the court described the project as “illegal”.
He describes the court judgment as landmark as it also speaks about providing new homes for many other endangered species.