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Gujarat opposes shifting Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) The Gujarat government Thursday came out against the central and Madhya Pradesh governments’ plan to shift Asiatic lions from Gir region to Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh to save them extinction.

‘The government of India’s opinion that the protected area of Gir faces great threats is not based on adequate reason, rational and factual evidence,’ said a Gujarat government affidavit submitted to the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice C.K. Prasad.

‘In the case of wildlife conservation in Gir, the lion population has progressively grown as a result of the state government’s commitment and its conservation efforts,’ the affidavit said, adding that ‘there is no rationale to propose translocation of lions from Gir to Kuno’.

Opposing the plan for shifting lions, the Gujarat government warned that ‘any artificial tinkering with the complex natural eco-system and socio cultural traditions that support conservation of Asiatic lion in Gir region, that too against the will and the opinion of local people, can never be a remedy unless the entire phenomena is properly understood’.

Filing the affidavit on behalf of the Gujarat government, the state’s Principal Chief Conservator Forests (Wildlife) B.N. Srivastava also sought to dismiss the central government’s fear that Gir region might be facing a threat of canine distemper virus (CDV) as witnessed in Serengeti plains of the African continent in 1994.

Correcting the central government’s statement that the CDV swept Serengeti plains in 1964, the affidavit said it occurred in 1994 instead and there was no repeat of the epidemic in Serengeti due to proper scientific, technical and managerial interventions.

‘The example of African CDV episode at the Serengeti cannot be considered as a reason enough for speculating such epidemic at Gir as the ecosystem, situations and circumstances of Serengeti and Gir are not comparable,’ it said.

‘The proposal for translocation of lions is based on false alarm of epidemic calamity on the argument of genetic weakness of Gir lion, which is not correct as Gir lions are not genetically weak,’ said the Gujarat affidavit.

The apex court, while asking the central and the Madhya Pradesh governments to respond to Gujarat’s contention in six weeks, also asked them to try to resolve the issue amicably.

–Indo-Asian news Service

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