The Gujarat forest had agreed to the exchange program in return for a pair of rusty spotted cats (schedule I species found only in Maharashtra).
Shailesh Deore, Range Forest Officer of SGNP said, “The reminder was sent to the zoo authorities on Wednesday since we did not get an update to our proposal from them.” According to Sakkarbaug officials, the proposal has been forwarded to the to government as it has to be approved by the chief minister. S.J. Pandit, Zoo Director, Sakkarbaug zoo said, “The proposal is under consideration.”
After a response from Sakkaebaug, both the authorities will be visiting each other after which the animals to be exchanged will be finalised according to the requirement.
Authorities from SGNP had sent proposal to the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden in February this year at Junagadh, Gujarat. According to communications between the two authorities, Sakkarbaug zoo will be sending a pair of Asiatic lions to SGNP and the SGNP will be giving away a pair of rusty spotted cats. “We are in talks with the senior officials at the zoo who are positive of the exchange program. If things go as planned then we will have the lions in SGNP within a year,” said a source.
At present, the SGNP houses three Asiatic lions of which siblings Jespa and Gopa are young, while the third lion Ravindra is old. The park authorities want to increase the captive population of the Asiatic lions for lion safari. Since the lions already in SGNP are related by blood, inbreeding cannot be done as it could lead to genetic diseases.