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Monday, August 13, 2012

Lion Conservation - War of Words

Asiatic Lion

Asian Lions where once found all over the Asia. but were hunted to extinction and driven away from their natural habitat. The big cat now survives only at Gir National Park in the State of Gujarat. In India the species was spread over at larger area perhaps in neighborhood of tiger habitats as well. Since the habitat preference of the two differs vastly a species conflict is at best a matter of conjecture.  

Threat

Despite excellent conservation measures and increase in numbers, the threat still looms large.Gir is subject to severe man animal conflict and intrusion by Maldharis. The ever increasing agriculture, pastoral practices and industrialization means end of the affected ecosystem. This malady is everywhere especially in India with dense population pockets. 

The greatest threat to the lion in India is from epidemics like FPL (Feline Pan Leukopenia). Isolated animal population suffers from many disadvantages, inbreeding is one looming danger. Targeted poaching is another. Disease prevalence is a serious issue caused by decreasing immunity thanks to stale gene syndrome.    

Relocation of  Lions in India  

Kuno Palpur was established as a possible lion reserve in India keeping the above factors in mind. The basis of the project is scientific and not political, albeit secondary tourism benefit may arise. But tourism benefit is inconsequential whence matter of lion conservation arises.   

Unfortunately the project lies unfulfilled due to political wrangling affected by myopic parochialism. In India nothing can work without the consent of the present rulers. The species needs a new homeland, it does not understand parochial loyalties and political gamesmanship. 

Kuno Palpur was its former range. The animal has been last recorded in Sagar District of Madhya Pradesh. Hence this project is more of rehabilitation program and not a transfer of an exotic species.The threat of poaching is omnipresent in whole of India. 

Keeping the interest of the endangered species in mind the project should be implemented as soon as possible.  The pride should turn into a pride of lions without hesitation.

Read Lion Conservation