THE RESEARCH on Asiatic lion corridors in greater Gir area by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has stalled after the Gujarat government reportedly withdrew permission for it recently. The news comes on the heels of WII getting a cold shoulder in the 15th lion census which was due this June but was eventually postponed indefinitely.
Sources said that the office of the principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden of Gujarat sent a one-line communication to WII recently, stating permission was being withdrawn for the latter’s research project on metapopulation dynamics, behaviour and ecological role of Asiatic lions in Greater Gir area.
“It was a one-line communique sent via-email conveying permission was being withdrawn. No reason was specified,” said a WII functionary, adding a copy of the communication was marked to the director of WII.
The chief wildlife warden of Gujarat is the nodal officer for granting permission for conducting research on wild animals in the state.
The withdrawal of permission may well mark an end to the long-running study of Asiatic lions and greater Gir area by scientists of WII in its present form. The series of study had begun in early 1990. WII was the first research institute to radio-caller Asiatic lions outside Gir protected area and beginning from 2008. In all, the research team led by Yadvendradev Jhala, present dean of Faculty of Science of WII, and Kaushik Banerjee, research scientist with WII, had radio-collared 20 lions between 2005 and 2014.
“Presently, we were studying lion corridors in greater Gir area and human-lion and human-leopard conflict. Just last year, we had got extension of permission for this study,” Banejee told The Indian Express on Thursday.
Repeated phone calls and text messages by The Indian Express to Gujarat Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava and Rajiv Gupta, additional chief secretary (forest and environment department) of Gujarat government didn’t elicit any response.
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