10 lions encaged after spate of big cat attacks in Gujarat

10 lions encaged after spate of big cat attacks in Gujarat
Ten out of a pride of 13 lions have been encaged in accordance with Gujarat government's orders after three people were killed by big cats in eastern Gir forests in the last two months.

"We have caught 10 lions so far. We are screening the area to trace the other big cats that are said to be members of the pride of 13 lions roaming in the area," Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), Dhari-East range of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, T Karuppasamy said.

"Out of the 10 lions, four are male and six are female. Next, we would conduct pug mark identification exam and tests to find traces of human hair, bone and remains of clothes from their bodies to ascertain the man-eaters among those," he said.

"The man-eaters, once identified, would be sent to Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh where such lions are kept, while the others would be relocated to a safer zone," the DCF said.

"An 11-year-old boy, identified as Jayesh Solanki, was attacked by Asiatic lioness in Dhari taluka. He was found dead in a mango orchard at Ambardi village of Amreli district on May 19," Karuppasamy said, adding, "there were pug marks of a lioness near the place from where the body was recovered. His father was also injured in his futile attempt of saving him."

"Before that incident, a 50-year-old woman, identified as Labhuben D Solanki and 60-year-old man, Jinabhai Makwana, were killed by Asiatic lions at Bharad and Ambardi villages respectively in the same district," he said.

The process of awarding compensation of Rs 2.25 lakh to the kin of the victims has been initiated. A case of accidental death has been registered by police in each of the incidents and further probe is on, the DCF said.

"People residing in the East Division of Gir forests have been issued warnings of possible big cat attacks from time to time. But they don't follow instructions, causing such tragedies to recur," Karuppasamy said.

Locals as well as leaders of Amreli have been demanding action against man-eater lions for quite some time.

In the wake of rising incidence of the attacks, BJP leader from Amreli, Dileep Sanghani, has written to the state Forest and Environment Minister Mangubhai Patel, seeking killing of lions that attack humans outside the reserved forest area.

Man-lion conflicts are rare in and around Gir forests, said to be the last abode of Asiatic Lions, where as per the last census conducted in 2015, the count of the big cat stood at 523.

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