DNA Dtd. 1-4-2007
JUNAGADH: Carcasses of two more lions have been discovered in Gir, one of a four-year-old lion near Raval river in Gir East and another three-month-old cub in near a Maldhari hamlet in Athavali range, inside the Gir sanctuary.
The only saving grace is that the carcasses are intact and the reasons for the deaths appear natural. Sources claim the lion was believed to be suffering from an infectious disease.
“Prima facie, the deaths appear to be due to natural causes. The lion was found dead with injury marks that appear to be the outcome of a fight with another beast. The cub may have died due to starvation,” forest conservator, Wildlife, Junagadh, Bharat Pathak said.
Since all body parts were intact, he said, 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 latest recovery takes the lion casualties to eight in the month of March - probably the highest ever.
Local wildlife enthusiasts have demanded an in-depth DNA test of the carcasses so as to determine what are the diseases plaguing the lions inside the sanctuary.
Wildlife Conservation Trust of India trustee, Kishore Kotecha, has urged the state government to appoint a high level committee of experts to investigate the poaching and other death cases in the sanctuary.
“Help needs to be taken from eminent wildlife experts like Valmik Thapar (Tiger Man) and Fatheshinh Rathore (Tiger watch) etc, who have helped in solving wildlife poaching cases, can give advice,” he said in a letter to Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
“A good number of lions are dying due to starvation. When they venture out of the sanctuary searching for food, they prey on livestock and end up being attacked by local farmers or fall into open wells and die,” Vadodara-based environmentalist and former principle chief conservator of forest Sanat Chavan said.