Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two more big cats fall into well


Two more big cats fall into well

Indian Express By:Sibte Hussaqin Bukhari

Junagadh, October 20: After the death of three lionesses and two lion cubs by electrocution, two more big cats have died in Gir. This time, they fell victim to open wells.

According to official reports, two cubs and a lion fell into a well in Gir (West) forest division. While one cub and the lion were rescued, the second cub died.

A leopard, too, died a few days ago after falling into a well under Gir (East) forest division.

According to Deputy Conservator of Forest (Gir West) B P Pati, a group of three lions — two cubs and a lion — was roaming in a revenue area and fell into an abandoned well on the outskirts of Madhavpur village in Talala taluka. The landowner, Purshottambhai who is a farmer, noticed the incident and informed the forest officials. But before any rescue could reach the spot, the lion, aged about nine, managed to come out of the well on its own. While the officials were rescuing a cub, the other died in the meantime.

In a separate incident, on the outskirts of Aamodra village near Una town, a leopard fell into an open well and died. According to officials, the incident took place about a week ago but it came to light only on Saturday. The well is located in an agricultural land owned by a farmer, Mansingh Solanki.

“The post-mortem was conducted on the spot. All 18 claws of the animal were found to be intact. However, the gender of the animal could not be ascertained, as the carcass recovered was badly decomposed. The animal was aged between five and six,” said an official.

Meanwhile, four people were arrested and produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) on Saturday evening in connection with the electrocution case of Dhari town.

Those arrested include Durlabhaji Vadodaria, his son Purshottam (owner of the agricultural land who had erected fences with electric current flowing through it), and two tractor owners Ravji Hirani and Bhala Parmar, who were involved in destroying the evidence. The four were produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) at Dhari on Saturday evening.

Said Deputy Conservator of Forest J S Solanki: “The court has remanded them in our custody till October 23. They are all booked under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The maximum punishment liable for the offence is three to seven years of imprisonment and a fine Rs 25,000.”

Considering the seriousness of the incident, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Pradeep Khanna visited the incident site and chaired a meeting with forest officials. “To ensure the safety and security of the lions, we have decided to intensify a drive to check the agricultural fields where there is wired fencing. Besides, we have also informed the police and the electricity company to act against illegal power connections,” Khana said. “All possible steps are being taken to check such incidents. We have ordered a probe into the electrocution incident.”

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