Rajkot NGO joins lion translocation tussle in Supreme Court
THE TIMES OF INDIA
AHMEDABAD: The Supreme Court has allowed an NGO, Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rajkot, to join a contempt petition filed by Ajay Dubey, a wildlife activist from Madhya Pradesh. Dubey has challenged the non-implementation of the SC order given in 2013, directing translocation of lions from Sasan Gir to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh.
The NGO has submitted that translocation of any wild animal, as defined in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, cannot be undertaken without the specific approval of the state. Citing behavioural concerns of lions the petitioner submitted that to order translocation without considering pride behaviour may act counterproductive to to survival of the big cats.
Tushar Gokani, advocate for the petitioner said, "We had during the hearing in the apex court sought permission and the court has permitted the trust to file an impleadment application in the contempt petition which is going on in the apex court." The apex court had issued notice to Gujarat government and has listed the petition for hearing in January.
Gokani further said the trust has also filed a fresh petition. That petition was listed for hearing on Friday, but since Madhya Pradesh wanted more time to submit some documents, the matter will now be listed after 10 weeks.
The NGO has submitted that Gujarat state has tried to put forward several arguments before the expert committee formed by the order of the Supreme Court dated April 15 this year, but the committee which was bound by the directions given in the judgement, was not willing to hear any arguments against translocation.
The petitioner organization has raised concerns of animal behaviour and submitted that the court has been misguided on the issue of status of lions. The petitioner said the status of the Asiatic Lion was not critically endangered, but that according to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature it has been listed as endangered species.
The petitioner demanded that the Supreme Court should consider that under Wildlife Protection Act, 1935, the Chief Wildlife Warden, the state government and Central government are appropriate authorities to decide on translocation of any species.