Lion deaths: HC takes suo motu cognizance
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has taken suo moto cognizance of the issue of accidental deaths of Asiatic lions in Gir sanctuary.
As many as 184 lions died in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary over the past two years, and a large number of these deaths were unnatural. The court will hear the suo motu public interest litigation on Monday and consider issues of proper construction of wells, removal of electric fencing, closure of roads passing through the sanctury during the night and asking railways to take safety measures.
According to figures tabled by the state government, 365 big cats including lions, lion cubs and leopards have died in the two years that ended December 31, 2017. The government said in a reply to a question in the state assembly last week that the figure included 110 lions, lion cubs and 74 lionesses.
Forest minister Ganpat Vasava said in a reply in the assembly that out of the total 184 lions that died in and around the Gir sanctuary in the last two years, 104 deaths occurred in 2016 and 80 in 2017. As many as 32 of them died of unnatural causes. These include 20 in 2007 and 12 in 2016. The minister admitted that wells without parapet walls often become death traps for the animals which fall inside and drown.
Figures show that about 22% of deaths of wild cats including those of leopards were categorized as unnatural. According to the census of 2015, there were 523 lions in and around the Gir sanctuary, the last abode of Asiatic lions.