Karnataka forest minister agrees to work out lion exchange deal with SGNP
Months after failing to strike a deal to get two lions from Gujarat's Sakkarbaug Zoo
Sanjay Gandhi National Park's (SGNP) consistent efforts to maintain a healthy lion population are slowly yielding the desired results. Months after failing to strike a deal to get two lions from Gujarat's Sakkarbaug Zoo in exchange for two rusty spotted cats, the forest department received a positive response from Karnataka forest minister R Shankar regarding a similar exchange programme. On a visit to SGNP on Sunday, Shankar said that such a deal could be worked out.
According to sources, after being welcome by Chief Forest Conservative Officer Anwar Ahmed and Principal Chief Conservative Officer M K Rao, Shankar visited the tiger and lion enclosures, went on the lion safari and discussed the work of the rescue teams with the Park officials.
Forest officials said Shankar showed a lot of interest in knowing the details of how the park functions and assured that the exchange deal would be worked out at another meeting. He was also impressed with the way the leopard rescue team was working on creating awareness, besides rescuing the animals.
Speaking to mid-day, Ahmed said, "The Karnataka forest minister is very impressed with the way our staff are looking after the animals at the Park. The positive part about the visit was that the minister has shown interest in exchanging lions for rusty spotted cats through the animal exchange programme."
At present, SGNP has three Asiatic lions – Jespa, Gopa and Ravindra. Of them, Jespa and Gopa are siblings, while Ravindra is the oldest one. The authorities are looking at getting two lions through an exchange programme because inbreeding of the resident animals have produced weaker cubs with genetic disorders.
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