The Madhya Pradesh government has sought “immediate” transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to one of its sanctuaries, saying people of the state treat tigers as “deity” and can soon develop cultural bondings with lions too.
The translocation of lions from Gujarat’s Gir to MP’s Palpur Kuno Sanctuary has been delayed by over three years despite a Supreme Court order.
In a recent communication to the Centre, the MP government has rejected all concerns raised by the Gujarat administration for not giving lions to it.
Madhya Pradesh is a very nature-friendly state where man and animal share the same space in and around the protected areas, it said. In many of the landscapes where there is no forest, black bucks stay in the agricultural fields.
Even then, human settlements around it really did not show much of the antagonism towards them, it said.
“It is a very common sight to see ‘Bagh Dev’ in many of human settlements in and around tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh wherein people give a deity space to the tigers around and adore them.
“Therefore, once the lions are reintroduced at Kuno, the cultural bondings between the lion and human beings will get established in a natural way,” the MP government said, in its reply to the issues raised by Gujarat.
In the letter to the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, the MP government also cited the 2015 floods in parts of Amreli Bhav Nagar area of the state which “resulted in washing out of more than 1,600 blue bulls, 90 spotted dears and 10 Asiatic lions.
“Hence, I request you to immediately kick-start the execution of Supreme Court’s order dated April 15, 2013 without any further delay,” it said.
The copy of the communication and other details were received in response to an RTI query filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who is at the forefront of the campaign to move lions to Madhya Pradesh.
The reintroduction plan of lions in Madhya Pradesh had faced stiff opposition from Gujarat.
In April 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered shifting of some of lions to Kuno. The apex court had directed the Environment Ministry to shift them by October, 2013. However, not a single lion has been shifted so far.
Palpur Kuno Sanctuary, under Sheopur district of Gwalior division, has been chosen as the second home for over 500 Asiatic lions in Gir.