Protective lionesses kill leopard in Gir
Times of India
Dhari (Gir): In a rare incident, a female leopard is believed to have been killed by lionesses on the outskirts of Gadhia village in Dalkhania range of Gir. The carcass was recovered on Sunday morning. At least three lionesses, moving together, may have killed the leopard for venturing too close to their cubs, believe foresters.
Officials found lion saliva on the leopard's wounds and pug marks of three lionesses, along with cubs', near the carcass.
"I had seen three lionesses late on Saturday evening taking shelter in my farm along with their very young cubs. The cubs were so young, the lionesses were carrying them in their mouths," says farmer Apabhai at whose farm the leopard was killed.
"Late at night, I heard wild cries of some big cats, making it evident that a battle was raging. In the morning, I found the dead leopard and informed the forest department," he added.
Chief forest conservator Bharat Pathak says, "All big cats are fiercely protective of their offspring. Lions are known to kill leopards in territorial fights. Though there is no confirmation, it could be motherly concern for the new-born cubs that might have provoked the lionesses."
Forest officials have sent the leopard's carcass to Jasadhar village veterinary hospital for postmortem.
About three years ago in Dalkhaniya range, an old leopard and a young lion had died after a fierce territorial fight.
"As the latest incident happened late in the night, we have no visual confirmation of the number of lions," said Manish Raja, divisional forest officer of Dhari. "Based on canine marks on the leopard's body, we can confirm these were marks of a lion."