Thursday, June 24, 2010

Deserted cub rescued by forest officials

Deserted cub rescued by forest officials
Ahmedabad Mirror By Haresh Pandya

Left to fend for itself by her own mother, a lioness cub was rescued by Forest Department officials in Gir. For the past many days, the forest officials have not only been taking care of a cub, but also regularly giving milk to it.

About a fortnight ago, a lioness delivered two cubs near Lapala Hill, about seven kilometres from Khambha in eastern Gir. There is a rough road near the place where she had camped. The lioness chased people passing through the road, so the forest authorities decided to capture the lioness and her two cubs and drop them in the heart of Gir.

However, taking one cub in her mouth the lioness moved to a safer place inside the Gir. The officials expected her to return to Lapala Hill for the other cub, but she did not. Fearing that the deserted cub might die of starvation or be killed by some big lion or leopard, the officials decided to protect it while providing milk three times a dayand waiting for the lioness.

Meanwhile, a team of forest guards is looking for the lioness inside Gir.

More lions step outside Gir with the increase in the number of Asiatic lions, the big cats are finding the 1,400-sq km Gir forest woefully dense and small for their comfort. Wildlife experts say a lion needs about 20 km grassland to move comfortably. Consequently, many lions tend to step out of their principal habitat for pleasure as well as food (livestock).

Though at present the Gir sanctuary is closed for the monsoon, and there is no official lion darshan, the big cats have been found wandering outside their habitat and giving a glimpse to people.

Close on the heels of five lions found roaming on the Savarkundla-Liliya Road last week, another incident involving eight big cats camping on the outskirts of Khilawad village near Una on the periphery of Gir was reported on Tuesday morning.

As the news trickled in, people from Khilawad and nearby villages began rushing to the spot for a dekko at the pride. According to eyewitnesses, the group included a lioness with her newborn cub.

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