I was in class 4th when our school principal, who used to teach us Geography, told us about the prospective plan of the government to shift some of the Gir lions to Kuno Wildlife sanctuary, some hundred Kilometres from my home town Shivpuri in MP. She even promised to take us on a trip to Kuno after the Lions are shifted, which she thought would happen by the time we will reach class 10th. “Class 10th! 6 years long wait! ” Yes, I was excited to see those powerful dreadful creatures, which I had seen last in circus, when I was a little kid. I used to fear a lot then.
Enough of nostalgia! Moral of the story is: Around 15 year back, this idea of shifting Gir lions to a second home first reverberated in public sphere. There were huge discussions and debates. If things would have happened as planned, I would have visited Kuno in class 10th.
I have passed my 10th, completed my MBBS and right now doing my internship. But still, the things are the same as they were 15 years back.
Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project
The Gir Forest in the State of Gujarat,India is the last natural habitat of the approximately 350 wild Asiatic Lions, though plans are afoot to re-introduce some to Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the neighboring State of Madhya Pradeshin India to ensure their longterm survival against epidemics and natural calamities.
Why Shift Gir Lions?
Lions in India ( Asiatic Lions) are found only in Gir sanctuary. It’s their only natural habitat. Any natural or man-made calamity viz. an earthquake, forest fire or a cyclone can wipe out entire species. They have a very small genetic pool. They are susceptible to any disease or change of aby sort in their natural environment. If any epidemic or any unknown deadly disease breaks out, it would washout all the existing lions in one go.
Hence, the decision of second habitat is justified for the protection of this animal which was once considered as the National Animal, the status which was later given to its very own brother, the Bengal Tiger. The tigers in India are not at all restricted to a particular region but found everywhere across the country. Their numbers are also falling and attention needs to be paid for their protection. But still, they will not be wiped out completely.
The Gir lions are in grim danger. It’s high time to realize the importance of species conservation and the lions should be shifted ASAP after proper scientific analysis of the second habitat.
The Supreme Court has stressed on pan-national efforts for the best interest of species. The Gujarat government should take the matter seriously instead of showing its pride and Chauvinism. Gir lion belongs to India and is not a Gujarati!
Hope to see Gir Lions in MP in near future 🙂