Tigers for lions? Gujarat says no

Give me lion, I will give you tiger, minister wrote

GN Bureau | February 17, 2010

Would you swap lions for tigers? That was the offer from Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has rejected it, according to a report.

"You give me lions and I will give you tigers," Ramesh wrote to Modi in a recent letter. Ramesh was desperately trying to convince the Modi government to part with Asiatic lions from the Gir reserve so that his ministry could relocate the animals to a protected area in Madhya Pradesh (MP).

But this proposal has failed to cut ice with Modi. Gujarat officials say a "quid pro quo" is not possible, according to the DNA.

"We do not have that kind of area to accommodate tigers. Entire villages have to be rehabilitated in Dangs. The reason we are not parting with the lions is because they will not be safe in MP. The MP reserve is meant for tigers. A deal cannot be struck by getting tigers in," a senior official of Gujarat's forest department was quoted as saying.

The last census of 2005 pegged the lion population of Gir at 359.

Ramesh had tried to convince Modi before, but met with disappointment every time. Ramesh has promised a tiger reserve at Dangs in south Gujarat, where tigers were found till 25 years ago. The lions were supposed to be relocated from the Gir sanctuary in Gujarat to the Kuno tiger reserve in MP.

The Supreme Court had on Feb 12 asked the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh governments to sort out their differences on this issue within four weeks.




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