Gujarat on Wednesday rejected the Centre’s offer to swap Asiatic lions in its Gir reserve with tigers in a bid to relocate them in a second home in a protected area in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
“There is no way Gujarat can part with its lions. The state has shown a successful model of conservation of lions and therefore it does not want to part with it,” the official said.
The official was responding to Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh’s “You give me lions and I will give you tigers” offer to the Narendra Modi government. Gir forest today is the sole and last bastion of the Asiatic lion.
“We have developed expertise in not only conservation of the wild cats through community protection, but also in wildlife crime management. We have had only one incident of lion poaching in the state and the case has been cracked in just a matter of months unlike many cases of tigers poaching which are yet to be cracked,” the official said.
The official made it clear that Mr. Ramesh’s quid pro quo offer will not cut ice with the state and it will not budge from its position regarding the Asiatic lions, often called as the pride of Gujarat.
The Minister had on Tuesday made an offer to re-introduce tigers in the Dangs region of the state in exchange for Asiatic lions which it plans to relocate to Madhya Pradesh.
According to Mr. Ramesh, he had made an offer to re-introduce tigers in the Dangs region of Gujarat where the big cats ruled the jungles about 25 years back. The Minister had also said that the lions of Gujarat “continue to be a big headache for us.”