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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

MP government to fund lion translocation on its own

Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, August 16, 2014
First Published: 21:26 IST(16/8/2014) | Last Updated: 21:30 IST(16/8/2014)

The majestic Asiatic lions may finally find a new home. The much-awaited reintroduction of Asiatic lions from Gir forests of Gujarat to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary of Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh is all set to take off as the state government has decided to use its own resources to expedite the translocation of the king of the jungle.

The project was stalled following an objection of Gujarat government and a petition filed in Supreme Court. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India RM Lodha on Tuesday rejected the petition.

Unwilling to wait for the Central financing, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has decided to fund the project on its own.

"Though we have sent the proposal for funds to the Centre, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told me that MP government will spend the required money to make Palpur-Kuno an appropriate home for lions," Madhya Pradesh forest minister Gaurishankar Shejwar told HT.

"Lot of work has already been done and now we are readying for the rehabilitation of the two villages that would get displaced when lions come to the national park."

Earlier on April 15, 2013, the apex court in a judgment had directed that the lions be translocated to Kuno-Palpur in MP from the Gir Sanctuary.

Why translocation of lions As Asiatic lions exist only in Gir, where they number over 400, experts have often expressed apprehensions that high rate of inbreeding and less genetic diversity could make them susceptible to epidemics and make them extinct. In this light, a proposal was mooted to translocate a few of the Gir lions to MP in 2000.

Later, a study by the Wildlife Institute of India in 2006 identified Kuno-Palpur sanctuary as a suitable site for the translocation. Wildlife activist Fayaz Khudsar filed a public interest petition in the apex court in 2006 and sought translocation of Gir lions to MP.


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