Saturday, February 20, 2016

Entangled in net, two Asiatic lion cubs found dead in Gujarat

Entangled in net, two Asiatic lion cubs found dead in Gujarat
The Indian Express

Two cubs of Asiatic lions were killed after they allegedly got entangled in fishing net tied round an agricultural field to protect the crop from wild animals, in Nageshri village of Rajula taluka of Amreli on Saturday.

Forest officers got a message that two lion cubs were lying dead on the agricultural field of Mohan Parmar in Nagreshri at around 8:30 am. "The lion cubs were found near a fishing net tied round the field of Parmar. So, we suspect that the cubs might have got entangled in the net and suffocated to death as there were no outer injury marks on their body. But the exact cause of their death will be known only after we get post-mortem reports," Rajula range forest officer (RFO) CB Dhandhya said.

The RFO further said that both the cubs were around three-month-old and female. "Our tracker party has traced the mother lioness of the cubs and are keeping a watch over her movement," he further said.

Blue bulls and wild boars damage standing crops in many parts of Amreli, including in Rajula taluka. Too ward off these animals and protect their crops, farmers fence their fields with discarded fishing nets.

"Even if it turns out that the cubs were killed after being entrapped in fishing net on Parmar's field, it will not constitute a crime and nobody has been booked as of now. It is unnatural death but no criminal angle prima facie," added Dhandhya.

Asiatic lions are an endangered species and enjoys highest level of protection in India. Killing a lion can attract seven years of imprisonment.

The only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world is surviving in Gir forest and other protected areas in Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The 2015 census had pegged their number at 523. A number of them were spotted in revenue and protected areas in Amreli district, including in Rajula.

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