After 29 long years, the Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary is ready as the new home for Asiatic lions, starting with those that are to be relocated from Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary.
Getting land ready for lions is not easy though does not require two decades. Here, simply put, the will not enough. The mysterious deaths of some lions last year and lions attacking some humans, in a morbid way, actually made it easier.
The Kuno sanctuary is now ready with areas of grassland habitat, which in turn is flush with ‘food’ for the lions like nilgai (blue bull), chital (spotted deer), sambhar, chinkara.
The place is completely devoid of any human settlement. There were 24 villages which we evacuated and people relocated. Now there is grass on the sites of the villages.
Gujarat government has been refusing to give lions to Madhya Pradesh alleging that it would not be safe to shift the mighty beast to a state which has failed to protect its own tiger population. After long legal battles, Supreme Court directed that the lions needed the relocation to survive.
The process will begin now and it is expected that along with supplementation every four years from Gir; the lion population in Kuno WLS should reach the current carrying capacity of 40 within 15 years. To reach the required self-sustaining population size of 80 lions, the time required would be close to 30 years.