Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Foresters say lion was killed in self-defence

Foresters say lion was killed in self-defence
Indian Express

An asiatic lion found dead near the Gir Range periphery was possibly killed in self-defence, forest officers have said.

Assistant Conservator of Forest P S Babariya said: "The lion's body was found near the periphery of the Girnar Range, on the outskirts of Chorwadi, Nawagam and Mandalpur villages. The lion was aged around 3-4 years and was hit on the head with an axe."

Girnar Range — some 70 km from the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary — is home to some 30 lions as per the last census of 2005. Gujarat has a population of 350 lions including those living in the Girnar Range and the sanctuary. People living in the periphery of the sanctuary are also known for their commitment to lion preservation.

Forest officers said the lion had reportedly wounded seven people (including a forest guard) from Chorwadi, Nawagam and Mandalpar villages, who have been admitted to the Junagadh Civil Hospital.

According to hospital records, the injured are Chorwadi vice sarpanch Mahesh Baldania (30), Gopa Mor (72), Forest Guard Parbat Gharsaeda (50), Chandu Chovatia (45), Salim Khayam, Abdul Pathan and Mohammad Pathan.

According to reports, there were a total of three attacks on humans from a lion pride that had ventured into the outskirts. Baldania and Mor were reportedly attacked by a lioness, while Gharsaeda and Chovatia were wounded by a lion. Khayam and the two Pathans were injured by a lion.

Forest officers said the lion was possibly killed between 10.30 pm and 12.30 am, adding that the men were probably woodcutters, carrying an axe.

Babariya said: "The claws have been found intact. It is clear that the lion was killed in self-defence. It is not a case of poaching." He added: "The big cat probably died of haemorrhage. The body has been sent for post-mortem to the Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh city."

The Forest Department has registered a case under the Wildlife Act, 1972 against three unidentified persons. Babariya said the Forest Department is yet to confirm the names of the injured and those who killed the lion, adding that the last three names entered in the hospital register are the suspects.

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