Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lion attacks on humans on the rise

Lion attacks on humans on the rise
Times of India

A total of 162 attacks on humans and 6,237 attacks on cattle have been reported from in and around the Gir sanctuary since the past three years. The government has paid Rs 50 lakhs per year as compensation for the attacks.Forest and environment minister Mangu Patel in a written reply to Talala MLA Bhagwan Barad said that in the last three years, 6,399 animals and humans have been attacked in the Gir sanctuary and nearby areas. These attacks were mainly in the Gir sanctuary, Veraval, Sutrapada and other costal areas. The attacks on the humans were on the rise, while those on the cattle were declining.A senior officer who refused to be quoted said that the decline in the attack on the cattle was because of chital, sambhar and neelgai leaving the sanctuary and being spotted moving in the outskirts of villages. The official also attributed this to the increase in population of these animals.About the attack on humans he said that the animals including lions and leopards, which are moving out, are now seen in an area of about 10,500-square kilometre right from Bhesan in Junagadh and Mahuva in Bhavnagar.He said 162 attacks on humans were reported from Junagadh district alone. The Gir sanctuary has a carrying capacity of only around 290 animals against the ever increasing population. Due to this, herbivorous animals are leaving the sanctuary in search of food.He said that since the concentration of wild animals, including lions and leopards, was more in Gir sanctuary, it resulted in territorial fights, driving the beasts out of the sanctuary. Another officer attributed the decrease in number of attacks on cattle to the shifting of maldharis, the shepherd community, out of the sanctuary.

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