Supreme Court has ordered the shifting of Asiatic Lions from Gir in Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh. The Asiatic lions will now be heading to their second home in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno wildlife sanctuary. Interestingly, Narendra Modi had made all his efforts in order to stop the transfer of Asiatic lions from Gir. He pointed to the fact that Asiatic lions were the pride of Gujarat and would not be allowed to move out of Gujarat. Supreme Court however ruled that since the Asiatic lions were endangered, these need to be transferred to some other place in limited numbers.
The seriousness of Supreme Court can be gauged from the fact that it has constituted a high power committee to monitor the transfer of lions and the same would be keeping a close watch on the transfer process. A Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice KS Radhakrishnan and CK Prasad has given six months to wild life experts to complete the transfer process. Gir sanctuary in Gujarat is home to over 400 Asiatic lions and is known the world over for its Asiatic lions.
Supreme Court has come down harshly on Ministry of Environment and Forest too. The ministry in its Cheetah Reintroduction Program had advocated for introduction of African cheetah in India. Supreme Court disallowed the entry of African cheetah citing the fact that critically endangered native species as the Great Indian Bustard and wild buffalo need to be protected and African cheetah cannot be allowed entry into the country.
Meanwhile, the war regarding transfer of some Asiatic lions is tuning into a prestige issue for the Gujarat government. The state government is currently engaged in a legal battle against translocation of Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh. A public interest litigation has been filed on the court and as a consequence the court has ordered transfer of some of these lions to Madhya Pradesh.
Madhya Pradesh on its part had sought translocation of Asiatic lions to Kuno Palpur sanctuary. The state had claimed that it had all the suitable conditions and compatible atmosphere that Asiatic lions required for their better upkeep.
Gujarat had on its part claimed that Madhya Pradesh was not a suitable state for the Asiatic lions as the state had itself failed miserably on safety aspects, especially when it came to animal population. Gujarat had cited the reference of Panna tiger reserve where large scale poaching of tiger population was reported.
Over 92 Asiatic lions have died in Gir forest since last two year, though 83 of these have died a natural death. Perhaps, Madhya Pradesh is raising this concern of the state not being capable enough of offering ambient atmosphere for survival of its lion population.
Meanwhile, the issue has little chance of boiling into a political controversy as both Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have BJP governments. Had it not had been the case, the controversy would have boiled into a major political issue.
Perhaps, the lions of Gir would have been thanking their fortunes that the issue has not turned into a political battle, given the fact that both the ruling Chief Ministers are from the same political clan.