Saturday, October 20, 2007

Three Gir lions, two cubs electrocuted


Three Gir lions, two cubs electrocuted

Indian Express By Sibte Hussain Bukhari

Junagadh, October 19 Three lionesses and two cubs were electrocuted when they came in contact with an electrified fence erected by a farmer in Prempara village under the Gir Sanctuary (East) division on Friday. The incident occurred just a stone’s throw away from the Gir East forest headquarters in Dhari. The farmer who erected the fence, Durlabh Vadodaria, has been arrested.

The death of the five lions has caused a furore among wildlife enthusiasts, environmentalists and the people, prompting the Forest department to hold a press conference late in the evening in Gandhinagar as a damage control exercise.

It was fellow villagers who spilled the beans, when they saw Vadodaria pulling out lions entangled in live wires surrounding his agricultural land and then later, burying them under mounds of earth. One of them passed on this message to the Gir East forest headquarters

When contacted, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Gir East) J S Solanki said, “The three lionesses that were electrocuted were in the 8 to 10-year age group, while the cubs were less than a year old.”

According to Solanki, the carcasses have been recovered, and a post-mortem has also been conducted. Carcass samples have been collected and dispatched to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Junagadh for a detail clinical examination.

In a bid to save standing crop and to prevent wild animals from venturing into agriculture land, Vadodaria had electrified the fence surrounding his farm. The group of lions was electrocuted when it came in contact with the wire. Later, in a bid to destroy evidence — Vadodaria had buried the carcasses near his agricultural land. Solanki said the farmer was being interrogated and will be produced before the Dhari court on Saturday.

A Katara, former deputy conservator of forest, Gir East, and at present the superintendent of Sakkarbagh Zoo, Junagadh, also rushed to the spot. He said, “The accused has been arrested under Rule 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. All the claws of the lions have been found intact. A detailed inquiry will be initiated in this regard. “When contacted, Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Bharat Pathak has admitted to foul play in this incident, however, he has ruled out poaching and said, “Prima-facie it appears to be a case of electrocution.”

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