Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Poachers back to hunt Gujrat pride?

Poachers back to hunt Gujrat pride?
Times of India

Have poachers become active near Gir National Park again? Missing claws of a lion that died a year ago and a cub that has been missing for nearly 50 days indicate that all is not well in the lion's abode.

A 10-month-old lion cub in this range has been missing since March 5 and the forest department has no clue about its disappearance. K S Randhawa, deputy conservator of forests, Bhavnagar, denied that a cub has been missing but senior forest officials confirmed to TOI that the cub has indeed been traceless.

Earlier, in April 2011, a lion was electrocuted at Valar village in Mahuva range. When the carcass was found, the claws were missing. Four persons were arrested in the connection but even after a year forest officials have not found the claws.

The area was stalked by poachers about five years back and nearly 50 poachers, led by Sarkaslal from Madhya Pradesh, were arrested for killing eight lions in the span of a few weeks.

The two recent cases not only bring back those memories but also highlight the lack of co-ordination between the departments concerned and the ground staff in the region. The lion's carcass was found 10 days after it died. After killing the lion, the accused had put the carcass on a bullock cart and dumped it on the gauchar land. Marks of the bullock cart wheels in the area had led the forest officials to conclude that the lion may have been killed somewhere else and the body was later dumped in the revenue area.

Randhawa, however, denied involvement of any gang of poachers in lion's killing. "We suspect involvement of local people in the case of missing claws," he said.

According to the last census, there were 411 lions in the sanctuary and of this, 33 were in Bhavnagar district, mostly in Mahuva range.

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