Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wild fire: Activists fear two lion cubs missing, foresters say all safe

Wild fire: Activists fear two lion cubs missing, foresters say all safe
Indian Express

A day after a huge fire broke out in the Krakaj forest area, environmental activists on Tuesday expressed fear for safety of two new born Asiatic lion cubs, which were reportedly too young to walk properly.

The forest was home to more than 10 Asiatic lions. While both, the Forest Department and activists, confirm that the big cats and other animals fled to safer parts of the forest on Monday evening, they differ over their safety conditions.

"The fire has been extinguished. There has been no damage," said Range Forest Officer R Rathod, adding, "We have got reports that all the animals are safe."

On the reports that two cubs might be missing, he said, "We have not received any such news."

Contrary to this, the president of Dristi Paryavaran Trust (DPT), which has been associated with environment conservation in 'interior Gir', said, "Only last week had we spotted two cubs. One would be now five-day-old and the other may be 10-12 days old. When cubs are this young, they cannot walk or run properly."

Mahendra Khuman further said that they had been doing a survey of the area after the fire broke out. "Maldharies (milkmen) and volunteers claimed to have seen at least 10 big cats fleeing the area, but there was no cub with them. We have been trying to locate these two cubs since this morning," he said.

Krakaj in Amreli district is spread over 6,000 bighas. Forest officials said an inquiry has been order to find out the cause of the fire and the damage to the forest.

Locals, meanwhile, said that over 700 bighas, mainly covered with dry grass, might have been gutted in the blaze.

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