3 lions overthrow 2 kings in Gir coup
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: Three sub-adult lions in the Gir sanctuary have carried out a coup in the jungle and have dethroned their rulers. These sub-adults — aged between three and four years — have conquered a huge territory right in the middle of the tourist zone.
The three, all kids of the same father but of different lionesses, ganged up against a couple of 10-year-old lions, vanquished them and drove them out of their territory. Now the trio rules over four groups of lions consisting of six lionesses and several cubs.
Senior officials from the forest department who have documented the takeover say that even today the two exiled lions visit the territory every now and then. Sandeep Kumar, the deputy conservator of forests, who is keeping a watch on proceedings along with field officials, says that the new rulers are moving in on other prides as well.
"The behavioral change in Asiatic lions related to the optimization of male reproductive period, association among males, enhanced physical and reproductive fitness, and better survival rate are all manifestations of broad genetic base," Kumar says. "The three took over the territory from lions which were strong enough. Two of the tree lions had first made an attempt to attack the older kings." But when they found the two adult males to be tough opponents, the third sub-adult was brought in as reinforcement. The three now share six lionesses for mating. Usually a lion is ready for mating at the age of three but the first mating takes place only after a territory is conquered.
"Gir forest earlier had one lion capturing territory, but later the social fabric changed and with the male population growing, two lions began capturing territories and even sharing lionesses for mating," Kumar says. He said that three lions taking over a pride at a very young age represented a rare wildlife event.
H S Singh, a member of the national board of wildlife and a former IFS officer, says: "Usually lions capture territory at the age of five and it is normally two sub-adults who become kings. I would say that this new capture is abnormal behavior as these lions have captured territory despite their age."
Wildlife lovers have joined hands to give the lion king of Gir some peace and quietness.