Monday, March 19, 2007

Mystery still prevails over how lionesses were poached


Times of India By-Himanshu Kaushik Dated 19-3-2007


BABARIYA RANGE (UNA): The question about 'how' the lionesses in this range of Gir Sanctuary were poached last month is intriguing for both — the investigators as well as the people living in the vicinity.


What has deepened the mystery over the poaching and subsequent skinning, ripping of claws and removing of bones from the carcasses, is the absence of blood at the spot.


The CID team investigating the case and forest department officials are eagerly awaiting the forensic science laboratory report, which they think would clear the air.


As far as the villagers living in the range are concerned, they are not ready to buy the theory that the three lionesses were killed in the Babariya range.


One of the local farmers, Chandresh Thakkar, who was the first to call Bharat Pathak, conservator of the forest, said, "When I reached the spot along with the forest team, we didn't find a single drop of blood. Usually a big animal has about 50 litre of blood."


A villager while echoing Thakkar's sentiments wondered


that if a trap was laid, where did it vanish. Moreover, if an animal is trapped, there should be footmarks of the animal trying to escape, whereas there were no such signs.

Barring some makeshift spears made out of wooden sticks, nothing else was found from the spot or nearby. This, villagers, said could not have been used to kill the lionesses. Also, such an attack would have made the big cats roar that could have been heard in a radius of three to four kilometre, which wasn't the case.


GA Patel, former principal conservator of forest, affirmed this. "It is a fact that a lion when injured or attacked would retaliate and would emit a typical sound signalling it was in pain."


The possibility of the lionesses having been shot, was also ruled out by experts, while officials said the big cats could have been poisoned.


Meanwhile, forest officials are sticking to their theory of this being handiwork of an international gang.


They also assume it could be a gang from Madhya Pradesh because bones, skulls and claws were taken away. These, according to officials, fetch a good price in the international market.

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