Thursday, January 27, 2011

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Favors India's Lion Relocation

Asiatic lion

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who recently visited Gir Forest National Park, stated that the lions should be relocated to Palpurkuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. According to Minister Ramesh, the lions in Gir Forest are under threat of inbreeding. He further added, saying that scientists had written to him about this threat and provided evidence that thousands of lions in Tanzania had died because of this. Minister's proposal is nothing new. The Palpurkuno Wildlife Sanctuary was selected as a reintroduction site because it was where lions had once roamed before being hunted to extinction in 1873. However, Gujarat has always been in the front line to resist these efforts because it would strip Gir Forest of its status as the lions' current and only home. The issue is now before the supreme court.

I personally feel that before anything happens, there should be a study of lions in Gir Forest to see if any are suffering from inbreeding. I think what Minister Ramesh should do is talk with scientists studying lions in Gir Forest, and listen to them and not those who study lions in Africa. Just because a lion population in Africa is being affected by a threat like inbreeding does not mean it should affect India's lions. In order to find out, one must run a study of a lion population(s) in a particular location and see if there are any cases of inbreeding. That way, everyone would know what to do. Jumping to conclusions would not help. Furthermore, lions have been making their home in Gir Forest for generations. Without them, the national park would definitely lose its status and its tourist industry would be deeply affected.

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