Raju lion was like his son to Suleman the Forester
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: The majestic nomadic lion, popularly known as Raju or playboys and Suleman Timan the Forester, in Gir had an amazing relationship. Raju who died recently was like Suleman's son. He used to follow Suleman since he was young.
Talk to Suleman and he has each and every minute details of Raju. "When he was a child, he had suffered injury and ever since then he became handicapped and use to limp while walking. Raju was like my son and when he was hospitalized, I use to frequently ask the doctor about his health. Being an forest employee we were not permitted to go to the hospital, but I used to get feedback regularly. Call it a mere coincidence, but I had often seen him following me wherever I went. When I was in Dedakadi he was spotted there, when I was in Kamleshwar beat, he was there and when I was back in the core area of the sanctuary, Raju was there."
"I did not like anything for couple of days when I heard Raju passed away," says Timan. Even forest officials says that it was an unbelievable relationship in-between a wild lion and a human. Raju passed away before a couple of weeks but his memories and genes will be there forever.
Even while Raju was growing up, he loved solitude and lived as a nomad even as an adult. Raju the lion who, was usually seen within the Gir sanctuary area was popularly known as a 'playboy' among forest staff.
Raju breathed his last at age 10, dying of weakness. He was suffering from paralysis and died as he wasn't able to hunt anymore. Raju was known among beat guards, jeep drivers and even the guides as a playboy. He never had his own territory nor did he have his family, but he fathered several cubs in the sanctuary.
Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests, says that between the age of three-and-a-half and four years, a cub stepping into adulthood is thrown out of the pride so he can establish his own territory. The cub then, sometimes with the help of another lion of the same age, captures a territory and establishes his pride. "Usually pairs of two adult lions form establish their own territory. Of late there have been instances where three lions have allied together to establish their own pride," he said.
Even though Raju didn't have his own territory, he was very popular among lionesses, particularly the younger ones. Raju's entire life has been documented, not only in a research paper, but also in the book The Majestic Lions of Gir, written by Sandeep Kumar.