In a year, SGNP lions Jespa and Gopa to find their soulmates
Shobha and her three cubs. FILE PIC
The young hearts of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), lions Jespa and Gopa, may soon find their soulmates. The park authorities are planning to send a proposal to the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden at Junagadh, Gujarat, to get a pair of Asiatic lions through an animal exchange programme within a year.
Confirming the development, an official from the forest department said, "We are in the process of preparing the proposal. We are in talks with the senior officials of the zoo and they are positive about giving us the pair of lions. If everything goes as per the plan, then we will get the lions in less than a year."
Another official of the department said, "We will offer them a pair of rusty-spotted cats in return for the lions. Once the proposal is ready, we will send copies of it to the State Zoo Authority, Central Zoo Authority, Gujarat Forest Department and Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden."
The SGNP authorities have been discussing the plan of getting the lions since October last year, but nothing positive came of it till talks happened between the Maharashtra and Gujarat forest departments. The SGNP authorities are now confident of getting the pair from Gujarat.
At present, SGNP has three Asiatic lions – Jespa, Gopa and Ravindra. As the park authorities wish to increase the captive population of the lions to give a boost to the safari, they are planning to get more.
Jab they met
Ravindra and Shobha were brought to SGNP in 2009 from Bangalore. In 2012, Shobha and a rescued circus lion, Badshah, gave birth to three cubs, of which Jespa and Gopa are alive.
The third died owing to illness. In 2014, Shobha died at the age of 12. Badshah died when he was 17. In April 2014, SGNP authorities put Shobha and Ravindra in an enclosure, hoping they would mate. But, they fought a lot and suffered injuries. Shobha also faced some fertility problems at the time.