Sunday, December 01, 2013

Sasan's 5 lion cubs alive after 6 months

Sasan's 5 lion cubs alive after 6 months
The Economic Times

It is not often that lion cubs born in the wild survive even six months. But Laxmi, the mother of five lion cubs born in Gir on May 17, 2013, again proved that she can risk her life to protect her offspring. An extra-protective mother who is three-years-and-seven-months-old herself, has been taking good care of her cubs.

Officials who are closely monitoring the growth of the five cubs say one of the cubs was weaker than the others. "Laxmi took extra care and ensured that she fed this cub separately so that the weak one gets additional milk. It was because of the extra care by their mother that all the cubs have survived this long," an official. The naming ceremony of the cubs took place in Sasan.

Ravi Chellam, an expert on big cats, says that a lioness giving birth to five cubs is itself something rare. "The overall survival rate to adulthood is 50%. The survival of five cubs for six months is also good. However, death of some cubs at an early age is required as Gir is overflowing with lions. This is required for healthy conservation," Chellam said.

Deputy conservator of forests, Sandeep Kumar, said that the mother goes to hunt a neelgai or cheetal once in a few days. "These five cubs have still not tried their hand at killing an animal. They are still too young for that," Kumar said.

He further said that the father of the cubs often visits the family once in a couple of days. He stays away most of the time as the Laxmi is trying to keep the father away. She is yet to encounter any nomadic lion as the forest department is also keeping close watch on the movement of the lioness. Kumar said that the three male cubs - Shardul, Yuvraj and Vanraj - tend to be more adventurous than Heer and Mallika, the female cubs. The three male cubs even try to chase small animals that happen to pass by, said Kumar.

Laxmi breaks lion taboo to save cub

On Wednesday, Laxmi again displayed her overprotective instincts when she swam across a rivulet to save Shardul, Yuvraj and Vanraj. Deputy conservator of forests, Sandeep Kumar, said on Wednesday that Laxmi, along with her five cubs, was talking a stroll when Shardul, Yuvraj and Vanraj walked over the causeway and crossed the rivulet. Unaware of this, Laxmi kept on moving. She soon realized that the three cubs were missing. She immediately gave a call and got the response from the other side of the rivulet. Without thinking for a second, the lioness jumped into the rivulet and walked through neckdeep water. She then took the three cubs and crossed the rivulet using the causeway. The other two cubs, Heer and Mallika, watched their mother swim to rescue their brothers.

H S Singh, a lion expert, says that usually lions avoid water. "They jump or swim only in rare circumstances when it is a question of survival," he said.

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