Thursday, January 23, 2014

Train runs over 2 lionesses near Gir, one was pregnant with 3 cubs

Train runs over 2 lionesses near Gir, one was pregnant with 3 cubs
The Times of India

Two lionesses, one of them pregnant with three cubs, were run over by a container train near Pipavav port in Amreli district, around 40km from the Gir sanctuary, on Wednesday morning.

The two were part of a pride of five lionesses which was crossing the railway track between Bherai and Bhachadar villages, when the accident took place around 6.30am. As many as 50 lions have permanently settled in these coastal areas around Rajula and Jafrabad towns of Amreli district.

Forest department officials told TOI that the pregnant lioness was around seven years old while the other was aged two. In September last year, a six-month-old lion cub was run over by a goods train in the same area. The train line links Pipavav port to Surendranagar.

"This is an unfortunate incident. We will be talking to the railways as well as the port management to discuss ways to reduce the speed limit of trains on this stretch," said J K Makwana, deputy conservator of forests (Amreli).

The death of the lionesses sparked a furore among villagers, who shouted slogans against railway authorities and the port management. Three other lionesses who escaped unhurt later entered fields near Bhachadar village. "They are in a private farm near the village. All three are constantly roaring," forest department source said.

Sources said lions are frequently seen on revenue land on the 10-km stretch from the port towards Rajula. The area also has several warehouses.

A couple of lions were mowed down by a train in the Sasan forest area about 15 years back, following which trains on that line were cautioned to move at a slow pace. This has helped check such accidents there.

Gir and surrounding areas are home to the last surviving population of wild Asiatic lions. As per the last census, the number of lions there was 411.

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