Concerns mount for Asiatic lions, Great Indian Bustards as Cyclone Biparjoy approaches
Efforts to relocate the lions to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh have faced opposition from the Gujarat government
As Cyclone Biparjoy approaches Jakhau port in Gujarat's Kutch district and is expected to make landfall on Thursday, conservationists expressed worry about the safety of the endangered Asiatic lions in the Gir forest and the Great Indian Bustards in Naliya.
Efforts to relocate the lions to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh have faced opposition from the Gujarat government, which has instead focused on designating new areas within the Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL) as potential habitats. However, conservationists have long emphasised the risks of having the entire lion population concentrated in one area, as a single epidemic or natural disaster could have catastrophic consequences.
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Similarly, there are concerns for the four remaining Great Indian Bustards in the Naliya grasslands. These birds represent the last of the GIB population in Gujarat. While experts acknowledge the potential risks to the lions and GIBs, they highlight that birds, being more mobile, may have a better chance of sensing danger and moving to safer locations.
As authorities prepare for the cyclone's impact, Gujarat's Chief Wildlife Warden Nityanand Srivastav assured that necessary measures are being taken to protect wildlife. Staff leaves have been cancelled, rescue teams are on standby, and hospitals are stocked with medicines to provide care for injured animals.
Director-General of the India Meteorological Department, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, emphasized the need to keep a close eye on the Gir forest due to the approaching cyclone. The Gir forest is the last refuge for nearly 700 Asiatic lions, making it crucial to ensure their protection.
While the extent of the damage will only be known after the cyclone passes, efforts are underway to minimise the impact and ensure the safety of Gujarat's precious wildlife.