Kuno National Park / Kuno Wildlife Division and surrounding area has historically been rich with wildlife. This area was known to be a dense forest in ancient times as well. One of the gazette of Gwalior princely state of year 1902, records that the Mughal Emperor Akbar while returning from Malwa region captured a big herd of elephants in the forests near Shivpuri in the year 1564. Abul fazal also mentioned this fact that Lions were found in this region and the last Lion in this region is known to be shot near to city of Guna in the year 1872.
Kuno’s history is intricately woven with the history of Lions and various efforts to relocate Lions in some capacity or other from time to time in this area. It is impossible to talk about the history of this place without referring to the Lions and their relocation efforts.
In the year 1904 Lord Curzon was invited for hunting by the then His Highness Madhavrao Scindia,the Ist, King of Gwalior. Lord Curzon was so much impressed with the forest of valley of Kuno that he immediately suggested the King to bring Lions from Junaghad, Gir and released in the forest. King Scindia started working on it with the audacity suitable to a Maharaja and tried collaborating on his level, with the Nawab of Junaghad. During those times he built massive enclosures at Dob Kund as the Lion acclimatization enclosures before their release into the forests. However his initial efforts went into vain. Even Lord Curzon tried to help by facilitating talks with Nawab and personally getting involved in relocation but the Nawad kept on delaying the project.
Later Lord Curzon even presented the King with a letter addressed to the ruler of Abisinia (Current Ethopia) so that some lions from there could be brought to Kuno. A Persian expert named D.M. Zaal was made in charge of this project by the King and in 1905 , this project was allocated Rs. 1 lakh budget in that year. Mr. Zaal with support of the King was able to bring 10 lions from Africa. However, three of them died by the time they reached Bombay Harbour. Of the 7 surviving lions, 3 were males while remaining 4 were females and they were personally received by the King himself. He named the males as Bunde, Baanke and Majnu and the females as Ramailee, Rampyari, Bijli and Gaindi. These Lions were later released in the Jungles of Shivpuri instead of Kuno. Unfortunately these Lions turned into cattle lifters and man-eaters in between year 1910 to 1912 and due to this unfortunate turns of the events the project failed. Though the King’s dream of seeing Lions once again prosper in this landscape didn’t come true the way he had envisioned, but his efforts were bold and trailblazing to say the least.