Friday, February 27, 2009

10 ‘lion show’ hunters held in Gir

10 'lion show' hunters held in Gir
Times of India

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat forest department arrested 10 youths for sneaking into the reserved forest area of Gir to watch lions. This was the second incident since January where people trespassed into the forest to watch lions.

Last month a youth was killed when he went too close to click pictures of a lion pair mating. According to Maneshwar Raja, deputy conservator of forest (Gir east), "The group of 10 youths had entered the reserved forest area in Nani Vadan Virdi on motorbikes from Vijaypadi village in Savarkundla taluka for illegal lion shows." Their five bikes were also impounded.

Raja said this was an offence and hence the forest department has levied a fine of Rs 15,000 from each of the trespassers to deter them from repeating the offence.

Those arrested included Shailesh Rathod, Naresh Kataria, Bhavesh Dhanti, Bipin Kanubhai, Jagdish Bagha, Ashish Masrani, Gunvant Bhikha, Ashwin Himmat, Vasram Rapal and Shailesh Khimji.

Officials said the youths were aware of the presence of some 8-10 lions in the area and had come for the show. Earlier, gangs from outside Gujarat have been held for poaching lions in Gir.

The Times of India had in April last year exposed how illegal lion shows were held in Gir by using live baits to attract lions in the presence of audience, who paid between Rs 2,500 and Rs 10,000 for one show for a group of five people.

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