Maldharis who shot lioness video helped rescue it, say Gir forest officials
The INDIAN Express
A DAY after a video showing a man "teasing" a lioness went viral on social media, the Gujarat forest department said it was no mischief and was shot by two maldharis (herdsmen) who had helped forest officers track the carnivore.
"The video was shot by two maldharis on December 30, 2013 in Jasadhar range of Gir East division. They found the animal paralysed. While one of them tried to assess the its weakness by touching its tail, the other one shot the action on his cellphone. They informed forest officers and the lioness was taken to Jasadhar Animal Care centre late that evening," chief conservator of forests in Junagadh wildlife circle R L Meena said, adding that media had misunderstood the clipping.
In his report to higher authorities, Anshuman Sharma, deputy conservator of forests of Gir East division, identified the two maldharis as Kanu Vala and Shiva Lakhantra. The report said that Vala found the lioness in Tarbheti Taliya area of the forest and concluded that it was ill. He informed his uncle Lakhantra, who contacted forest officers. However, a trackers party from Jasadhar could not locate the big cat, the report states.
"In the evening, Vala took Lakhantra to the spot where the lioness had been lying. They found the lioness at the same spot. Lakhantra went closer to the lioness and checked with it with his stick. To assess its condition, he lifted its tail. Vala shot all this on his cellphone," Sharma said, referring to Vala's statement.
After local dailies reported on the video, state forests Minister Mangubhai Patel ordered an inquiry and sought a report within three days.
The DCF has forwarded his report to the state's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and a copy of the same is available with The Indian Express.