• Palpur Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary
For the King´s Return Palpur Kuno in Crowning Glory
by   Raja Chatterjee
Lion Reintroduction at Palpur Kuno

Human actions have eliminated the Asiatic lion from all the wilderness except Gir in Gujarat. It is feared that some further adverse human action, natural calamity of disease can in one go cause its extinction.

This fear led to a search for second home for the king of the jungle. After several years of research and debate, Kuno was found ideal for the purpose.

It would be interesting to note that the last lion in Central India was shot in a forest belt near Kuno in 1873. A centrally assisted Lion Reintroduction Project is on at the Sanctuaary.

The Kuno wildlife Sanctuary with 344.686 Sq Km. core and 924.175 Sq. Km. buffer is managed for the reintroduction of Asiatic Lion population. As per the recommendation of Scientist from Wild Life Institute of India, twenty four villages were relocated outside the Sanctuary area. The relocation of 1545 families of 24 villages start in the year 1998 and completed in 2003 and few development activities are still in progress.

The shifting of 1545 families from there ancestral place to a new site of very difficult task but it was materialized and now all the families have been settled with proper attention. With the relocation package of one lakh per family, other facilities make available to them are Hospital, Road, School, Market which are previously 36 Km. far away.16 Villages are electrified and electrification of the 8 villages are in progress. Beside this 1179 landless families got 2 ha. agricultural land.

The time consuming and complex management actions for minimization of biotic pressures, restoration of habitat, water conservation and strict protection have already been initiated. Voluntary relocation project for 18 villages in the Sanctuary is in progress.

The 21st century would see Kuno- Palpur transformed into a unique reserve in the world with the Asiatic lion roaming in its new home.
The days we spent in our maiden visit to Palpur Kuno were prolific not only in terms of wildlife sighting but also on counts of gathering experiences of activities of dacoits, operating in the area. We travelled extensively across the length and breadth to see the grandeur of core zone like Naya Gaon, Manak Chawk and Palpur.

The foresters accompanying us showed the signs of tiger scratches on tree trunk. Though a few tigers roam the forest, leopard are said to be good in number here and are omnipresent across the sanctuary.

The day before we left Palpur Kuno were full of matchless moments and sights. Birding on early morning along the river bed of enchanting Kuno proved richly rewarding as species like Black Headed Ibis, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Orange headed Thrush, Black winged Stilt and Indian Pitta could be sighted.