People from different nooks of the universe have a thing about the Gir Safari Booking, as whoever experienced the breathtaking safari at least once would remember it for a lifetime. Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the only place where the visitors can closely watch the Royal Asiatic Lions roaming free in their natural habitat.
But, from the past few years, the forest authorities serving under the Gir National Park have noticed a lack of genetic diversity within the royal cats. Therefore, with the help of some other experts, the administrators had decided to take some necessary measures to counter the snag, and that initiative gave birth to “Project Lion”. Now, “Project Lion” is a proposal that is likely to create space for a free traverse of the royal beasts.
The project has been launched because of the proper conservation of Asiatic Lions, which is the ultimate remaining wild population in the Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL) in Gujarat. The Wildlife Institute of India, teamed with the Gujarat Forest Department, created a “Project Lion” proposal for the Gir Forest lions. The request was then sent to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Notably, the proposal was accessed by Down to Earth (DTE).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on August 15, 2020, on account of Project Tiger and Project Elephant, announced six new sites apart from Kuno-Palpur. Let’s see which are the six new sites for the probable relocation of the lions in the upcoming years –
- Madhav Nation Park, Madhya Pradesh
- Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
- Mukunda Hills Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
- Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
- Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
- Jessore Balaram Ambaji WLS and adjoining landscape, Gujarat.
Lion relocation from the Gir National Park has been discussed among the administrators since 1995 when Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary was identified as an alternative site. The main reason for the essentiality of a relocation site for the royal species is the low genetic diversity of Sasan Gir. The project has been launched to create a free-ranging population for the ‘Kings’ of forest in Gujarat and its neighboring states. As per the 14th Lion Population Estimation Report 2015, the population of Asiatic Lions is 674 within Asiatic Lion Landscape, which is spread over 30,000 square kilometers. Gir National Park and eight Gujarat districts (Junagarh, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Rajkot, Porbandar, Botad, Gir-Somnath, and Jamnagar) fall under ALL.
However, despite the expenditure of $3.4 million by the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government between 1995 to 2007 to relocate 24 human settlements away from Kuno-Palpur, the Forest Department of Gujarat is yet to carry out the Supreme Court order of 2013 of relocating the lions from Gir Forest to the Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary.