Ahmed Patel writes to PM on death of lions at Guj’s Gir national park
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Ahmed Patel writes to PM on death of lions at Guj’s Gir national park

New Delhi, Oct 6: Congress leader and AICC Treasurer Ahmed Patel on Saturday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the death of lions in Gir national park in Gujarat.

Writing to PM Modi, Patel alleged that the deaths of large number of lions in the National park was a result of the state government’s prolonged mismanagement and poor oversight.

Calling Gir’s lions as an integral part of Gujarati Asmita, Patel called on the PM to accord highest priority to solve the current crisis at Gir and ensure that the pride of Gujarat continues to live safely and peacefully for generations to come.

'I am writing regarding the large number of lion deaths at the Gir National Park in Gujarat. More than 23 of them have died in last three weeks and over 180 have expired since 2016.

The Gir Lion is the pride of Gujarat but unfortunately their large scale deaths are a manifestation of negligence. The reasons for their deaths have not occurred overnight but are a result of the state government’s prolonged mismanagement and poor oversight,’’Mr Patel said in his letter to the PM.

In this context, the Congress leader also suggested some measures to save the existing population of lions including extention of the width of the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) up to 10 kms from the protected area, striking a fine balance between promoting tourism and conserving wildlife, immediate investments by the Centre and the state government for better medical facilities for the lions and treating lions with the same importance as given to the tiger.

‘’The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had suggested that for long term conservation of Gujarat’s Asiatic lions, the width of the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) should extend up to 10 kms from the protected area. In Gujarat, the ESZ extends only up to 0.5 kms. This has caused unwarranted interference in the ecosystem of the lions. The Centre in consultation with the State government can consider revising the ESZ for Gir National Park.

There must be a fine balance between promoting tourism and conserving wildlife. The expanding dog menace and uncontrolled growth of resorts near the sanctuary has become a serious threat for the survival of the lions. The Government must show the will to end such illegal resorts irrespective of their ownership. Also, the Centre and the State must make immediate investments for better medical facilities for the lions. While on one hand we have a thriving pharmaceutical industry and the government speaks about Make in India, on the other forest department is forced to import vaccines from America. There is a huge shortage of both medicines and trained veterinary doctors in the national park. There is not a single intensive care ambulance for the lions at Gir. The government can consider introducing training programs for lion conservation and allocating adequate budget for research towards their conservation,’’he said.

Calling for treating lions with the same importance as given to the tiger, he said,’’I appeal to the Government of India to not neglect the lions of Gujarat and treat them with the same importance given to the tiger. The Central Government can consider to create a Rs 1000 cr fund for the conservation of the Gir Lion and launch a national level program on the lines of Project Tiger. As Chief Minister you also gave similar suggestions, hence I am absolutely confident that you would agree with me on this proposal. ‘’

‘’ The state of Gujarat is blessed to be the world’s only home for the Asiatic lions. Being a fellow Gujarati, you are equally aware that Gir’s lions are an integral part of Gujarati Asmita. Gir Forest, which was once projected as a success story of animal conservation is now being seen a glaring example of ecological neglect by the state. Therefore I humbly request you to accord highest priority to solve the current crisis at Gir and ensure that the pride of Gujarat continues to live safely and peacefully for generations to come,’’ Patel said. (UNI)