The Times Of India
Online plea for release of 'innocent' lion into the wild
JUNAGADH: A five-year-old lion from Girnar Wildlife Sanctuarywas caged and termed as 'man-eater' after it attacked a woman who died in December last year. However, on Friday wildlife experts and environmentalists have floated an online petition demanding the lion's release back into the wild on the grounds that the postmortem of the 50-year-old woman had concluded that she died of shock and not due to injuries caused by the lion attack.
The woman was attacked near Samatpar village on the fringe of Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary .
Terming the caged lion as `innocent' animal `jailed for no fault' at Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh, the petitioners have demanded release of the wild cat into its natural habi tat Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary .
"This handsome young lion from Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary , a member of male trio pride, is spending life in zoo, just for being a wild (aggressive) lion in natural course. There was no thorough investigation whether the lion was involved in any conflict with humans and there was no proper order passed by forest department with justifiable reasons to keep the wild cat in captivity for life," the petition stated.
"Please show your concern and ask government of Gujarat to release this young lion to his original habitat, where two of his brothers are waiting for him," petition further stated while urging people to sign it. There are over 35 lions in Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary which is spread over 17,827 hectare area in Junagadh.
Response to the petition was such that within hours of being floated, over 80 people signed it online.
Pranav Vaghashiya, a wildlife conservationist from Junagadh, who has signed the online petition said that the post-mortem report of deceased woman concluded that she had died of `shock' and not because of the injuries caused by lion. "Where was the fault of the lion? A lion in wild would react as per its natural instinct when it encounter hu mans or feels threatened," said Vagahashiya.
"It is a known fact, lions never attacked humans unless they are disturbed. Why do lions face `jail' when humans are responsible for the disturbing the wild cats?" asks Ankit Shukla, another petitioner who has signed the petition.
Wildlife experts also believe that caging a lion after attack on humans was not always correct. "We follow the `unwritten' standard operating produce of releasing the lion into wild after observing his behaviour. If publicly announced it will create hue and cry," said senior official of the forest department.
Priyavrat Gadhvi, wildlife conservationist and member of State Wildlife Advisory Board was of the opinion that since the lion has been in captivity for over 10 months, releasing it back into wild will be a difficult. "In captivity the wild cat's behaviour may have changed," he added.