Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on translocating lions from Gujarat to the state against the backdrop of deaths of several lions there recently.
Mr Nath, in his letter, said the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh was developed as a second home for lions and asked the PM to issue suitable directions to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and to the Gujarat government for smooth translocation.
“All recommendations made by the Wildlife Institute of India and expert committee formed to oversee the translocation of Asiatic lions to Kuno, like habitat improvement, prey base augmentation, relocation of 24 villages (1543 families) etc have been completed by the state government,” Mr Nath’s letter stated.
“Substantial amount of money has been incurred in these activities and the Kuno National Park is ready to receive the Asiatic lion,” the letter claimed.
Mr Nath’s letter also informed that, as per the recommendations made by committee, the area of Kuno Sanctuary has been extended by adding 404 square kilometres of forest area and has been declared as a national park.
The letter said Kuno Sanctuary was found to be the best habitat for the Asiatic lion and the Supreme Court had, in its order dated April 15, 2013, directed that they be translocated from Gujarat to Kuno Sanctuary within six months.
On Friday, the Gujarat Assembly was told that 204 lions had died in the state’s Gir Forest region in the past two years.
Gujarat Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava told the House that 110 lions and 94 cubs died in 2017 and 2018.
Of the 110 adult lions, 43 died in 2017 and 67 in 2018. Thirty-eight cubs died in 2017 and 56 in 2018, the reply said.
Of the 204 deaths, 27 (21 lions and six cubs) were because of “unnatural causes” such as falling into a well or being run over by a train, the minister had said on February 22.