19 get 3-year jail for killing six Gir lions
Times of India
RAJKOT: In a rare conviction, a Junagadh sessions court on Thursday sentenced 19 poachers to three years rigorous imprisonment for killing six lions in Gir's Babaria forest range in March 2007. The poachers were also slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 each.
The judgment comes more than a week after a Dhari (Amreli) court sentenced a farmer to three years imprisonment for causing death of a lioness and two cubs. The trio had died after coming in contact with the electrified fencing of the farmer's field.
A forest official said the department would appeal against the lower court's order and seek an increase in the prison term under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The poachers were arrested from the banks of Una River in Junagadh where they had set up a base. They are tribals from MP's Katni district and notorious for poaching tigers. They had turned their attention to the lions recently.
In the 124-page order, judge P K Makwana has given some gruesome details on how the wild cats were killed. The gang used a crude contraption as a spring trap to capture the lions. Once the trap used to catch the the lions by their legs, the poachers used to pounce on them with bamboo spears to ensure swift killing. The dead animals were then skinned and their bones and claws carried away in air-tight bags.
''This is a landmark judgment,'' said Nitin Desai of Wildlife Protection Society, Nagpur. ''These are professional poachers and could have wreaked havoc in Gir. Like tigers, we believe that lion bones are being used in China to make a special wine.''