Gujarat Forest Minister Ganpatsinh Vasava today said the state government was never in favour of the proposal of `translocating’ Asiatic lions from Gir forest to Madhya Pradesh, and would try its best to stop such a transfer.
The BJP government in Gujarat had submitted a 36-point report opposing the proposal to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court in 2013, he said.
The SC-appointed committee, having wildlife experts and senior officials from Gujarat, MP and Centre, had not yet got back in touch with Gujarat government after the report was submitted, he said.
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“Since the beginning when this issue of translocating some of our lions to MP came up few years back, Gujarat government has made its stand clear by saying we are against such a move and we will try our best to see to it that our lions remain here,” Vasava told PTI.
As per the 2015 census, there are 523 lions in and around the Gir Sanctuary, which is known as the last abode of Asiatic lions.
Without elaborating on the 36 points, the minister stated the report backed the state government’s argument that lions should not be shifted to Madhya Pradesh.
“Lions are not just wild animals to the people of Gujarat. Lions share a special bond with people living near the forest. Lions are a matter of pride and identity for us. We are emotionally attached to these wild cats,” he said.
Supreme Court had earlier ordered to shift some of the Gujarat lions to Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary in MP.