Open wells turn fatal for lions, leopards at Gir Forest
It's not just goods trains and speeding vehicles that claim the lives of Asiatic lions at the Gir Forest. The carnivores also meet watery grave in open wells.
Around 7,000 uncovered wells exist in the protected forest and protected areas. The issue came into limelight yet again after a 12-year-old lion drowned in a 30-foot well in Khilavad village recently.
According to forest officials, the paucity of funds has resulted in these wells being left uncovered. Officials claim that 15 lions, on an average, fell prey to drowning every year but the situation now is much better due to improved vigil.
The forest department generally receives 110 distress calls with regard to lions and 290 for leopards. While falls in case of lions stand at seven per cent, the number with regards to leopards is over 14 per cent.
Official sources said the forest department has requested the government to double funds - from Rs 8,000 to Rs 16,000.
In 2008, over 25,000 open wells existed in and around the forest following which the government granted Rs 8,000 to farmers to cover them and build barriers around them.
Another problem plaguing the authorities is the rise in the number of lions.
With the increase in numbers, their territory has spread over 20,000 square kilometres in the Saurashtra region. Around 6,000 wells lie in the new terrain, which serves as a habitat to 168 Asiatic lions.
A 12-year-old lion drowned in a a 30-foot deep, uncovered well in Khilavad village recently.