16 Jan 2023

Kuno Cheetah Project: Gir Lions Unlikely To Be Shifted To Kuno, Where Will They Be Settled Now?

Sheopur (Madhya Pradesh): After the arrival of cheetahs in Kuno Sanctuary in MP, it has become difficult for Gir lions to be rehabilitated in this reserve as was originally planned. The Central Government has told in the Lok Sabha recently that Barda Sanctuary which is in Gujarat itself has been found suitable as a new home for the Gir lions. 

Barda is about 100 kilometres west of Gir

Barda Wildlife Sanctuary is situated approximately 15 kilometres from Porbandar and 100 kilometres west of Gir Forest National Park. Previous to its 1979 establishment as a wildlife sanctuary, Barda was a private reserve for Porbandar and Jamnagar. Barda is 282 square kilometres in size with an altitude of 79.2–617.8 meters above sea level. The terrain is hilly and undulating; there are slopes and exposed rocks.

Lions deserted Barda towards end of 19th century

Important fauna are blue bull, chinkara, blackbuck, and wolf. While Barda was known to have had a population of Asiatic lions, they deserted the area towards the end of the nineteenth century.

12 more cheetahs will arrive in Kuno 

Union Environment and Forest Minister Bhupendra Yadav recently said that it is our responsibility to make the Cheetah Project successful in Kuno, so the entire focus is on Cheetahs right now. Twelve more cheetahs will arrive in Kuno this month. 

27 lions die every year in Gir

According to the Gujarat Forest Department, 240 lions have died in Gir forests since the year 2013-14 to November 2022. On an average, 27 lions are dying every year in Gir.

Kuno Park is fully ready for lions

Madhya Pradesh's PCCF Wildlife JS Chauhan says that Kuno Park is fully ready for the settlement of Asiatic lions. It was prepared for lions for two decades and is being maintained continuously. 

Lions, cheetahs can co-exist

APCCF Shubharanjan Sen and Kuno Line Project Director Uttam Sharma said that whenever the government wants, the lion can be brought. The habitat of lions will not be affected by the settlement of cheetahs. In Namibia, from where the Kuno cheetahs have been brought, lions and cheetahs live together. 

Shifting lions near Gir will defeat the purpose 

Wildlife expert Fayyaz Kudsar says that to save lions from any epidemic in India, it is necessary to shift some lions from Gir to a new place. The further away the place is from the Gir, the better. Shifting of lions near Gir will defeat the purpose of Project Lion. 

Once in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania, 75 percent of the animals of the cat family died due to canine distemper virus attack. It is necessary to save lions from a disaster like Tanzania, so the decision of trans-location of lions in Kuno has been taken on the basis of world's best scientific research. After Gir, there are no other historical geographic range areas for Asiatic lions in India other than Kuno.

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