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Gujarat to study SC verdict on lions before taking next step

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government on Monday said it will study the full judgement of the Supreme Court on relocation of Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh before deciding its future course of action on the issue.

Currently, Gujarat's Gir sanctuary is the only home to Asiatic lions, an endangered species. The apex court today directed the Centre to shift the Asiatic lions from the Gir forest to Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, saying the big cats need a second home to prevent their extinction due to some epidemic or large forest fire.

"Before taking any step, we will study the Supreme Court judgement to find out on what basis they have arrived at this decision," Gujarat Finance Minister and Government spokesperson Nitin Patel said this evening.

"The Gujarat Government has maintained that relocation of lions outside Gujarat is not desirable as it is an emotional issue for the people of the state, whose efforts over the years have led to manifold increase in the number of the big cats in the Gir wildlife sanctuary," he said.

A century ago, Gir housed around 100 Asiatic lions, whose number, as per the last census conducted in 2010, stood at over 400. The State has been opposing the relocation of lions, considered as "pride of Gujarat", to Kuno sanctuary.

Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani said the verdict has disappointed wildlife enthusiasts and experts in the State. Gir offers unique environment for the growth of Asiatic lions and the new home may not be suitable for them, said Nathwani, who is also Group President (Corporate Affairs) at Reliance Industries.

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