Despite Gujarat being in no mood to allow shifting of any of its Asiatic lions, the Madhya Pradesh government has spent over Rs. 14.53 crore to relocate 1,543 families in the Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary being prepared as an alternative habitat for the king of the jungle.

At present, Asiatic lions are found only in Gir forests in Gujarat and the Centre had plans to relocate some of them to Kuno Sanctuary to repopulate the endangered species there.

There are around 800 lions in the Gir forests but experts feel that the concentration of the entire lion population at one place exposes it to the danger of being wiped out by disease or natural calamity.

However, the Narendra Modi government has categorically refused to part with the lions citing non-conducive environment such as threat from poachers and poor prey base in the Madhya Pradesh sanctuary spread over 344.686 square km.

Kuno was identified as a best potential site by the Wildlife Institute of India among two other sites - Darrah-Jawahar Sagar and Sitamata (both in Rajasthan) long back in 1993, a senior environment official said.