Death strikes in Gir East: 11 lions found dead in four days
Around 11lions have been feared dead in Gir East in the past four days. Primary information suggests that eight have died due to infighting, while reports of the cause of other three deaths is awaited. There has even been suspicion that the lions might have died due to infection, sources said. Deaths of so many lions in such a short span is a rare occurrence.
Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani has called for the authorities to investigate the cause of such deaths and book the culprits.
Gir East is an area with the highest density of lion population where the deaths of 11lions has occurred in the past four days. The number includes cubs and females. The trend has been noticed in the past 3 to 4 years, confirmed a top forest official.
Confirming the incident, Rajiv Kumar Gupta, additional chief secretary, Forest and Environment department said, "Based on primary reports, eight deaths have been confirmed due to infighting, while we are awaiting reports on the remaining three. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and other forest officials have visited Gir and will be submitting a detailed report. Only then will things be clear. The bodies have been found in past 3 to 4 days. The numbers include about 4 cubs and 4 adults."
As per sources, four are believed to be sub-adults, two adult males and two adult females who died in Karamdi of Dalsaniya in Dhari range. In a separate incident, one lion was found dead from revenue area in Rajula as well. The body was found with frothing in mouth. However, postmortem reports are still awaited.
According to lion population estimation 2015, areas adjoining Amreli have highest density of lion population. Savarkundla, Liliya and adjoining areas of Amreli had 80 lions. Total number of lions as per the estimate is 523 in Gujarat. Amreli district has second highest population of 174 lions after Junagadh with 268 lions in the district. Lion population has increased outside protected area by 126 per cent from 2010 to 2015. There were 74 lions outside the protected area that went up to 167 in 2015, an increase of 93 lions.
Responding to the incident, Cabinet Minister for Forest and Environment Ganpat Vasava said, "I had a word with PCCF and a team has already reached to investigate the deaths.
Primarily the deaths appear to have happened due to infighting." Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Wildlife Warden Akshay Kumar Saxena responded to message stating, "Cannot give the numbers, but infighting and injuries have caused death. Mainly affecting cubs and females. This trend is being noticed over past 3 to 4 years. No foul play or suspicion. I am making a spot visit."
In a statement, Nathwani, who himself is a wildlife enthusiast and has authored a book 'Gir Lion: Pride of Gujarat' said, "All wildlife lovers must get together and raise their voice to prevent all such unnatural deaths of our precious animals."
Nathwani has separately written to the State Forest Minister and other officials concerned to probe such incidents on war-footing and take stern action.