Lioness, cubs are guests at a farmer's field near Gir sanctuary
Times of India By Dilip Patel
For the past two months, the big cats have made KantibhaiUkani's farm at Vadali village their abode
For the past two months, a lioness and her two cubs have become a major draw for residents of Vadali village near the Gir sanctuary. The mother and her young ones have been living in close quarters with a farmer at his sugarcane farm.
The lioness moves freely in thefield, confident that the family of KantibhaiLavajibhaiUkaniwon'tdisturb her or her cubs. This is the second time a lioness has delivered cubs at Kantibhai's 90-bigha farm, where hegrowsKesar mangoesandsugarcane.
Kantibhai, who is sarpanch of the village, said the lioness has become apart of their family and there is no threat to theanimals.
When the lioness goes to hunt forfood, she leaves her cubsin the farm.Usually, a lioness finds it more secure leave the cubs forest; awayfrom her pride.
Kantibhaisaid,"Thelionessisour guest. My entire village takes care ofthe guest. Our crops have been dam aged and we have not beingable to water the crops due to its presence, but we willnot disturb theanimal.Weare careful that nobody comes in the way of thelioness."
Kantibhai's father Bhavanbhai whois80yearsoldsaid, "Istaydayandnight near the lioness and her cubs at myfarm.Thisisthesecondtimethata lionesshasdeliveredcubsatourfarm. Lions and human beings are friends in Gir. Wedon'tharm thelions."
As per the 2010 census, there are4lllions in Gir, of which 50 per centhave ventured out of the sanctuary.Around 30 per cent of lionesses have delivered cubs recently.
The forestdepartment whichcame to know of this incident has decided to reward Kantibhai. Chief Wildlife Conservator of Gir R L Mina said, "Farmers and maldharis are doing their bit to protect the lions. This has resulted in the rise in lion population. We are planning a small reward for Kantibhaiand his family, to en courage others to protect the king of the jungle."