Friday, March 31, 2017

Lion reserve proposal gathering dust since 2006

| | Mar 30, 2017, 04.00 AM ISTRajkot: Gujarat's pride, Asiatic lions, seems to have been left to fend for themselves in greater Gir area as the state government is sitting on a crucial proposal to give more protection to the endangered species outside Gir Wildlife Sanctuary since last 11 years.

In April 2005, Gujarat government had floated a proposal to declare 30,054 hectare area, which included government waste land, forest land in villages of Palitana, Mahuva, Talaja of Bhavnagar and some parts of Amreli as 'Sir Dharamkumarsinhji Wildlife Sanctuary'. However, in 2006, the proposal was modified and it was decided to declare the area as a 'conservation reserve' instead of sanctuary.

The area identified by the government for the 'conservation reserve' was based on its ecological, fauna, floral, gemological nature and zoological significance for the purpose of protection, propagation and developing wildlife and its environment. It was to be the lion's new permanent corridor.

In 2010, a total of 10,952 hectare (109 sq km) area in Savarkundla, Palitana, Mahuva and Talaja was marked as 'conservation reserve'. Forest department gave all details about the village-wise, taluka-wise, details of government waste land as well as forest land which fall under the 'conservation reserve' to the concerned government department.

"The plan was to provide safe cover to lions that are moving outside the Gir Sanctuary and maintain a safe corridor for the big cat's movement. The proposed conservation reserve was a link for the lion's corridor from Gir east to Rangala and other parts of Bhavnagar district, where lions have started living permanently. As human-wildlife conflicts are on rise, it is high time that the government takes a decision for long-term conservation of lions," said a senior forest officer.

When inquired about the status of lion 'conservation reserve', principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), G K Sinha said that the forest department had sent the proposal to government, where the matter was pending for final approval.

"If government delays decision, the haphazard development in and around the proposed conservation reserve will destroy the purpose of the entire proposal. The windmill project close to this proposed 'conservation reserve' is a prime example of it," said another forest official.

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