Gujarat Government will file a review petition in Supreme Court of India against translocation of lions to Madhya Pradesh before May 14. The decision was taken at an urgent meet of the state wildlife board chaired by CM Narendra Modi. The government, it seems, has finally sought to consult wildlife experts, who form part of the board.
“The Gujarat State Board of Wildlife discussed Supreme Court’s order for shifting of Asiatic Lions to Madhya Pradesh,” said Ganpatsinh Vasava, minister for forest & environment.
“The board members were of unanimous opinion that the lions should remain in Gujarat.
Government has decided to seek review of the order.” A review petition will be filed in SC before May 14, added Vasava.
The board members also felt that the contentions raised by the state board were not considered, or perhaps even overlooked by the national wildlife board.
Countering some of the contentions raised by wildlife experts, which led to the decision of lions being translocated, Lavkumar Khachar (conservationist and a member of the board) said that the probability of an illness wiping out the entire species doesn’t exist as the lions are spread over a large geographical area. “The lions are not concentrated in a small area but across large ones,” said Khachar.
As per the translocation plan, Gujarat will have to give male lions every three to five years to Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. “But the new male lions will kill the cubs and the wildlife experts should have emphasised on this,” said Khachar. He further said that Kuno-Palpur doesn’t have a natural criss-cross of rivers, as in Gir Forest, which increases possibility of the species getting wiped out due to forest fires.
“Even if there is a fire (in Gir), rivers will contain it, thus preventing the spread to other parts of the forest,” said Khachar. He also emphasised on the unique relation that the lions share with people of Saurashtra.
“This aspect of conservation is unique to Gujarat and hasn’t been seen anywhere else.”
Meanwhile, NGOs, who form part of the wildlife board, are also mulling to join as a party to the petition.