Countering Gujarat’s opposition to lion translocation project, the Madhya Pradesh government told the Supreme Court that a second habitat for Asiatic lions in Kuno — cleared by National Board of Wildlife — was mandatory to avoid Tanzania’s disastrous experience in Serengeti where an epidemic almost wiped out the entire lion population.
Madhya Pradesh met with disdain Gujarat’s apprehension about safety of lions. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government did not deny the past lapses allowing poachers to wipe out the entire tiger population in Panna, but said the new model of wildlife protection had got it laurels from many quarters and other states were emulating it.
“Although the state has been criticized severely for the extinction of tiger from the Panna National Park, the state has been, in the last few years, able to translocate and reintroduce the tiger in the park and currently, can boast of a population of 14 tigers,” the state’s counsel said, adding, “The state’s efforts have been duly recognized by the Tiger Authority of India, which assessed MP’s performance as outstanding.”
MP said Asiatic lions “must be relocated and reintroduced in an area which would be suitable alternative habitat for its survival in the event of outbreak of any epidemic”. On the suitability of Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, MP said it was the historical range of Asiatic lions, though the modern habitat was limited to Gir.