The roar of Asiatic lions was heard in central, east and northern India until the early 20th century. But now they are confined only to the Gir Forest of Gujarat. There are only 600 Asiatic Lions left in India.
Due to lack of genetic diversity, the lions of Gir are dying. The only way to save them is to separate lions with identical genes. And to increase the genetic diversity in lions.
Since 1995, there is a demand to send Gir lions to other states, but the Gujarat government is not ready for this, they say “Asiatic Lions are part of the family of Gujarat and the family member is not sent away”. In 2013, the Supreme Court had asked the Gujarat government to send Asiatic Lions to the Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh within six months.
Cheetah instead of Asiatic Lions
The Kuno sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh was prepared for the Asiatic Lions, for this the surrounding villages were also evacuated. In order not to send lions to Madhya Pradesh, the central government made a plan to import African cheetahs from Namibia to divert attention from the issue of Asiatic Lions.
Experts believe that with the arrival of cheetahs, the shortage of top predators in the Kuno Sanctuary will be fulfilled. But, how many days the cheetahs brought from other continents will live here cannot be said. Earlier, African cheetahs were also transferred to Malawi, where 20 percent of cheetahs died.
Cheetahs do not adapt so easily to a new environment. The Kuno Forest was designed according to the Asiatic Lions, its purpose was to save the lions of India. Now the government is bringing cheetahs by spending crores more. For this, at least 30 cheetahs have been considered necessary, which the government will import in a time bound manner. The Madhya Pradesh government is already short of funds. Management of cheetahs is also going to be expensive.
They will be brought from Namibia to Gwalior Airport, then from here they will be brought to Kuno by keeping them in a special van. Here they will be kept in a closed fence a few months back. Because cheetahs always try to return home. When they adapt themselves according to the environment here, after that they will be released in the forest.
Leopard vs Cheetah
Here, they will have to face the cheetah present in the forest for hunting which were not found in their old home. There are already leopards in the Kuno sanctuary, which will have to be taken to another forest or else a competition for prey will arise between the cheetah and the leopard.
For the first time in the world, cheetahs are being brought from one continent to another, this project will be the eyes of the whole world.
Kuno was created to protect the Asiatic Lions, but it seems that the Gujarat government is more interested in enhancing its pride than in the protection of lions.