Monday, December 05, 2011

223 lions, 193 leopards died in Gir in last four years

223 lions, 193 leopards died in Gir in last four years
DNA By Roxy Gagdekar

Even as Gujarat prides itself as the only home to the Asiatic lions in India at Gir National park, as many as 223 lions and 193 leopards have died in the sanctuary since 2006-07. The last census of lions in 2010 revealed that there were 411 lions in the Gir Sanctuary.

In reply to an application filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the office of the chief forest conservator informed out of 223 deaths, seven were the result of poaching while others died of natural causes or accidental deaths. The number of death due to natural causes stood at 182, while 33 have died due to accidents.

The last lion killed by poachers was in 2009-10. SK Nanda, principal secretary of forest and environment department, Gujarat said he was not aware of any poaching cases in the last couple of years.

When DNA pointed out that this data was revealed under the RTI, he said they could be 'alleged poaching cases'. He insisted, "There has been no poaching death in Gir. Local people are aware, and poachers can't function in the region without their support."

According to the information made available under the RTI, most of the natural deaths were caused by brain hemorrhage. A source close to the development said usually a lion suffers from brain hemorrhage when it collides with a tree or a rock after running tirelessly, especially when it hears a sound or sees a light in the midnight.

The RTI activist, who didn't want to be named, said it was puzzling to find that most of the lions have died due to brain hemorrhage. "It could only happen if the lion runs because of fear and collides with a tree or rock," he said.

The activist also claimed the state government's figures related to the lions population are misleading.

The activist claimed the number of deaths mentioned in the RTI reply only takes into account the lions whose post-mortem have been conducted. "There are many lions whose autopsy is usually not conducted and they are directly immersed," he claimed.

Pointing out the reason behind the unnatural or accidental death of 33 lions, in last five years, the activist said, "Lions have either fallen into the open pits or in the open well".

Principal chief conservator of forest, Pradip Khanna could not be reached for comment.

No comments:

Previous Posts