Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh

Posted in : Madhya Pradesh

(added few years ago!)

Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary or Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary lies in the Sheopur district of north western Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India. It is about 120 kilometres from Gwalior.

An area of 344.686 square kilometres was set aside as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1981. Since then this has been elevated to the Kuno Wildlife Division with an additional area of 900 square kilometres as a buffer area around the Sanctuary. The park is home to many species of wild animals including wolves, monkeys, leopards and nilgai and possibly a few remaining Bengal Tigers.

Wildlife Institute of India researchers confirmed that the Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary is the most promising location to re-establish a free ranging population of the Asiatic lions and certified it ready to receive its first batch of translocated lions from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary where they are highly overpopulated. There are large scale deaths in the population annually because of ever increasing competition due to animal overcrowding. Asiatic lion prides require large territories but there is limited space at Gir wildlife sanctuary, which is boxed in on all sides by heavy human habitation.

The Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary was selected as the reintroduction site for the endangered Asiatic lion because it is in the former range of the lions before it was hunted into extinction in about 1873. It was selected following stringent international criteria and internationally accepted requirements & guidelines developed by IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group and IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group which are followed before any reintroduction attempt anywhere in the world.

Currently the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project is underway. The lions are to be reintroduced from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in the neighboring Indian state of Gujarat where they are currently overpopulated. This has involved the displacement of twenty four villages of the Sahariya tribe, which had lived in the remote core area set aside for the reintroduction of the Asiatic lions, who agreed to move out.

As the state government of Gujarat is refusing to let go of its monopoly of wild Asiatic Lions which are not found elsewhere, for the time being Central Government of India plans to acquire Zoo-bred pure breed Asiatic lions from Hyderabad, Bhopal and Delhi Zoos and soft release their third generation after captive breeding in a large enclosure at Kuno wildlife sanctuary with wild prey. The State Government of Gujarat rejects the idea of Kuno being an alternate habitat for the Asiatic lion and comments that since Kuno Palpur sanctuary has had some tigers, it’s not advisable to shift Gir lions there, as there are bound to be frequent clashes between the two kings over territories and as per them it has been observed that tigers and lions can never co-exist. This statement is challenged by historical records and scientists around the world, Lions and Tigers have shared the same habitat from Persia (Iran) to India all through history before they became extinct by over hunting and habitat conversion to agriculture.

Currently, wildlife experts have shortlisted three regions which have the potential to support cheetah populations. The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary both in Madhya Pradesh and the Shahgarh bulge landscape in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan have been declared potentially suitable for the reintroduction of the cheetah. The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh has the potential to hold populations of all four of India's big cats the tiger, the leopard, the Asiatic lion as well as the cheetah, all four of which have coexisted in the same habitats historically before they were wiped out due to over hunting and habitat destruction. Since the Shahgarh Landscape is fenced along the Indo-Pak border region, the addition of more fencing will ensure adequate protection for the cheetah population. The Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary (1197km2) is part of a much larger forested landscape (5500km2 ) which can host the cheetah as well.

Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of the Sheopur-Shivprti forested landscape, which had the second largest area (6,800 km2) amongst the surveyed sites for reintroduction of Cheetah. This site was rated high on the priority list for considering because a lot of restorative investment has already been made here for introducing the Asiatic lions. The Protected Area was estimated to have a current carrying capacity to sustain 27 cheetah, which could be enhanced to over 32 individuals by addition of some more forested areas (120 km2) to the Kuno Sanctuary and managing the surrounding 3,000 km2 establishes itself within the Sanctuary, dispersers would not preclude the reintroduction of the asiatic lion once the cheetah population is established and the two introductions would complement each other. Kuno offers the prospect of all the four large forest cats/felids of India to coexist as they historically did in the past.

Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary has been shortlisted by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) as one of the last remaining habitats of the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in India and is proposed as one of the sites for the reintroduction of the species in India. Asiatic Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) that used to occur here are now locally extinct in India and elsewhere, except a very small critically endangered and fragmented population of last few, estimated to be below 100, thought to be surviving only in the central desert of Iran. Thus Cheetah experts from around the world have advised India to import and introduce the Cheetah from Africa as genetically it is identical to the ones found is Asia, as latest genetic studies have revealed that the Asian population had separated from the African relatively recently only 5000 years ago which is not enough for a subspecies level differentiation


Reaching Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary

From Jaipur, Rajasthan to Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, SH 23, Sillipur, Madhya Pradesh (299Km)

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From Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh to Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, SH 23, Sillipur, Madhya Pradesh (402 Km)

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From Agra, Uttar Pradesh to Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, SH 23, Sillipur, Madhya Pradesh (322 Km)

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Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary Images


Tags : Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh, 1981, 1873, Asiatic Lion, Cheetah, Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project, Gir, Sheopur-Shivprt, Nauradehi, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, Bengal Tigers, IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group, IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Sahariya, Shahgarh, leopard, Acinonyx jubatus, WII, WTI, Iran, Africa

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(added few years ago!) / 4244 views
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