Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Three people killed, Gir officials cage 13 lions

Three people killed, Gir officials cage 13 lions
The Indian Express
Gir forest officials on Sunday caged three more lions of a pride that is suspected to have preyed on a teenage boy near Ambardi village of Dhari taluka in Amreli district two days ago. With this, all 13 lions of the pride have been caged following demands by locals as well as politicians after three people were killed by the big cats in Gir region in the last three months. According to locals, the pride dragged away Jayraj (14) when he was sleeping beside his father Madhu Solanki at their farm on Friday. The half-eaten body was found 500 m from the farm.

Following the incident, the forest department set up 12 cages and captured 10 members of the pride on Saturday, said T Karuppasamy, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) of Gir East. "Three more lions were caged in Ambardi on Sunday. We have now caged the entire pride. They have been sent to the animal care centre in Jasadhar for scat analysis," he told The Indian Express. Forest officers said that scat or excreta of lions generally carry traces of meat they consume. If traces of the boy's flesh are found in scat of any of the pride members, the lion may remain in the cage for a long time, they added.

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The attack on Friday was the third in as many months in Dhari taluka. Forest officers suspect that one pride was involved in all three attacks.

After the Amreli incident, former minister Dilip Sanghani, who belongs to the area, wrote to state Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel, seeking killing of lions that attack humans. The sarpanches also wrote to the Dhari DCF seeking action.

While this is the first time that an entire pride has been enmeshed, experts blamed humans for the man-lion conflicts. "Around 40 per cent of lions are living outside the forest area, therefore such incidents may happen," said Govind Patel, former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat and former member of the National Board for Wildlife. Bhushan Pandya, member of the state wildlife board, said, "Their (lions) behaviour is not abnormal. If people take basic precautions like not sleeping in the open, such cases can be avoided."

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