Hindustan Times (Bhopal), Ssarkar@hindustantimes.com, 10 Aug 2013
There has been no successful lion translocation in the past in the country
Founder chairperson, Empower Foundation
On eve of the World Lions Day (August 10), a Mumbai-based NGO has sought intervention of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - the oldest global environment network - on the issue of the translocation of Asiatic Lions from Gir in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh.
The NGO - Empower Foundation - has been opposing the translocation of lions - saying that the conditions are adverse in the proposed site of Kuno Palpur and that serious animal rights’ issues are involved with the entire process. The organization is rather insisting on increasing habitat availability for lions through restoration, connectivity, corridor establishment, habitat protection and natural movement of lions.
Now, the NGO has also said that the translocation would amount to serious violations of IUCN guidelines on 29 counts and has urged the IUCN authorities to appoint an international expert/team of experts to intervene in the matter and guide the authorities in two states.
The founder chairperson of the Empower Foundation, Jalpesh Mehta has written to the IUCN authorities including the chairman of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) Reintroduction Specialist Group Dr Frederic Launay seeking this intervention. In the letter to the authorities, the NGO has given details of all the 29 guidelines violation and the 12 adverse conditions in Kuno Palpur (based on NGO’s own study) to draw attention of the international body.
The translocation issue is hanging fire between two states - Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh since more than a decade. Recently, the Supreme Court mandated translocation of Lions to MP, but Gujarat government filed a review petition pointing out that the decision was one-sided and highlighting the poaching culture of MP (50% of world’s tigers over the last decade were poached in MP).
“We have been working on this issue since a while and in a situation where there has been no successful lion translocation in the past in the country and concerned persons having no expertise on Lions, we thought it apt to seek the intervention of IUCN,” Mehta said while talking to HT.
He added that the Empower foundation was not against translocation, but concerned with the end result. “We simply want to save lions from being pushed to extinction,” he said.