Ahmedabad Newsline 2-4-2007
Junagadh, April 1: AN Asiatic lion and a cub have been found dead in the Gir wildlife sanctuary here. The adult lion was found dead near Raval river, while the cub’s body was found at a nearby cluster of human habitat within the sanctuary on Saturday.
“Prima facie the deaths appear to be due to natural causes. The lion was found dead with several injury marks that appear to be the outcome of a fight with another beast. The cub may have died due to starvation,” said Bharat Pathak, a senior forest official and in-charge of the sanctuary.
He said all the body parts of the two beasts were intact, so it did not appear to be a case of poaching. “However, a forensic team has been called to ascertain the exact cause of death,” the official said. The Gir sanctuary, the only abode left of the majestic Asiatic lion in world, has been in news since last few days after six of the beasts were found poached and their body parts stolen from within the 1,400 sq km protected area. Rattled by the poaching cases, the Government has increased security inside the sanctuary and has also stepped up vigilance on all those who enter and exit the sanctuary.
A probe by the CID (crime) is already underway to track the culprits behind the two recent poaching incidents. The State forest ministry has also told the investigating agency and forest department to submit a detailed report within five days and recommend measures needed to curb poaching. The mutilated carcasses of two male lions and a cub were found scattered near the Babariya range of
Earlier in March, the carcasses of two lionesses and a cub were found in similar conditions near the range. Survival of the endangered Asiatic lion has been a tricky issue for long but there was some respite when a Gujarat Government survey in 2005 stated that there were 359 of them left in the Gir sanctuary.
Since then, some of them have died in floods and due to natural causes while some fell into open wells within the sanctuary, both accidentally and also due to conflict with locals at times. CID officials are tightlipped about the probe but suspect the role of an organised gang behind the poaching cases and are also looking into possible role of locals.