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Project Lion could displace Maldharis within Gir to create ‘inviolate space’

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    19th Nov, 2020


The proposal, created by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Gujarat forest department, talks of creating ‘an inviolate space of 1,000 square kilometres’ (sq km).   

Key Highlights

  • Project Lion was launched by Narendra Modi on August 15, 2020.
  • Lions are found in Gujarat across an area of 30,000 sq km called the Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL).
  • But only 250 sq km of the Gir National Park is the exclusive space for lions while the rest is shared with people, according to the Project Lion proposal.
  • Inviolate spaces in the Gir forest are areas free from anthropomorphic pressures.

Who are Maldharis?

  • Maldhar is, a traditional pastoral people found in and around the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • They live in settlements called nessand make their living by selling milk from their water buffaloes.
  • They might end up being uprooted from their homes if the Project Lion proposal takes shape.

Maldhari and Asiatic Lions

  • Maldhari and lions coexist in the state, where lions get a considerable part of their food from Maldhari livestock, and Maldharis profit substantially by free access to forest resources.
  • The study even found that the absence of Maldharis and their livestock would negatively impact the lion population in Gir.

How it is against their rights?

  • The proposal for the relocation of Maldharis is also in contravention of the provisions of the Schedule Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, (FRA) 2006.
  • Under the provisions of the Act, forest dwellers cannot be displaced unless the rights settlement process has been completed.

Gir National Park

  • Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Sasan Gir.
  • It is a forest and wildlife sanctuary near TalalaGir in Gujarat.
  • There are approximately 600 Asiatic lions left in the Gir Forest of Western India.
  • It is their last remaining natural habitat.

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