Thursday, April 07, 2011

Ye cub hua, kaise hua?

Ye cub hua, kaise hua?
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

Lions Display Human Behaviour, Hound Young 'Unwed Mom'

The story has a familiar ring to it. A teenaged daughter falls in love, gets pregnant and she is banished by the family for her sin. She walks out, baby in arms, defending herself and the child in this wild, wicked world.

But this isn't Khap territory. Deep in the Gir forests in Gujarat, a two-and-a-halfyear-old lioness is facing the same situation a teen mom would in our case.

The lioness, who gave birth to three cubs three months ago, was immediately driven out by her pride in the jungle in Dedakadi range of Gir. The pride killed one of the cubs as she fled this western part of the sanctuary. The reason for this social ostracism among the big cats, according to keen observers of lion behaviour, is that the young lioness had mated outside the pride.

Normally, young lionesses mature sexually at the age of three years and give birth to their first litter of cubs either at the age of three-and-a-half or four years. But this subadult lioness got promiscuous a wee bit too early and seemed to have wandered away from the pride when a 'nomadic' lion mated with her. All hell broke loose when she delivered the three cubs.

At present the two surviving cubs are three months old and the forest department is keeping a close watch on their movements.

Additional principal chief conservator of forest H S Singh said such early pregnancy and ostracisation were rare but had been reported in the past. "Male lions do not easily accept the pride's lionesses to mate outside the pride." 

Dr Y V Jhala, expert at the Wildlife Institute of India, said, "Usually, when this happens, the other lionesses take care of the cubs. The young mother goes out of the group and tries to return after six to eight weeks". 

Experts agreed that having faced dangers for nearly three months, the cubs are likely to survive. "Their mother is fiercely protective about the cubs," said one forester.

LONELY BATTLE: The lioness (above) was driven out by her pride

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