Mangrol turns lion country into dog pound
Times of India
Municipality Releases Strays In Gir, Foresters Angry
Mangrol: It is one thing not killing stray dogs on grounds of cruelty to animals. But it is a completely different thing releasing them into the Gir forest and endangering the last surviving population of Asiatic lions in the world.
Not wanting to kill the stray dogs, municipal officials of Mangrol town, some 25 km from Gir, are catching stray dogs from the town and releasing them into the forest. In fact, Mangrol nagarpalika officials say for the past few months they have been releasing the canines 70 km into the forest, so that they are not able to return!
"Releasing stray dogs into Gir can spread dangerous diseases among the lions," said Anita Karan, deputy conservator of Forest (Girnar range). "The forest is already teeming with wildlife. The additional presence of dogs could lead to many unwanted problems."
Mangrol nagarpalika president Iqbal Chapara says: "Stray dogs have become a huge problem in the town. We have daily wagers who catch the dogs and release them deep into the forest. One van of 40 dogs costs us Rs 4,000."
The coastal town of Chorwad also has the same problem and the civic body has even invited bids in a local newspaper to catch stray dogs and pigs and release them in Gir. But, upset forest officials have said they will not allow this. "If we find that Mangrol nagarpalika has released stray dogs in Gir forest, we will take strong action against them," said Bharat Pathak, conservator of forest in charge of Gir. "Although lions don't normally kill dogs, leopards are at risk as they don't mind preying on dogs."
"The British have recorded cases of leopards contracting rabies in 1921," says chief conservator of forest HS Singh. "Stray dogs are carriers of bacteria and viruses."