India cages Asiatic lions after fatal attacks

Published May 24, 2016
Ahmedabad: Asiatic Lion Ambar contemplates the scene as it prepares to leave the cage for a stroll in the open enclosure at a zoo here on Monday.—AFP
Ahmedabad: Asiatic Lion Ambar contemplates the scene as it prepares to leave the cage for a stroll in the open enclosure at a zoo here on Monday.—AFP

AHMEDABAD: Thirteen endangered Asiatic lions that only live in a forest in western India have been caught and caged after three villagers were killed in recent months, a wildlife official said on Monday.

The pride of lions has been rounded up from Gir sanctuary in Gujarat state after at least one of the animals last week dragged a teenager from his village while he was sleeping and killed him.

Gujarat’s chief conservator of forests, J. A. Khan, said the lions were captured in recent days from an eastern part of the protected forest in a bid to find the “man-eaters” responsible.

Khan said it was unclear why or how many of the cats had ventured outside of the sanctuary, their last remaining natural habitat, to find prey, describing the attacks as rare.

“Lions that have preyed upon humans will be analysed in detail, while the rest will be slowly introduced back into the wild,” Khan said.

“We will be doing a scat analysis which includes testing the animals’ faeces for human tissues, chemical analysis of their blood and even genetic analysis,” he said.

The cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, have been increasing in numbers in Gir, with 523 recorded in the latest census.

Conservationists have suggested some of the lions be relocated to a different sanctuary, to reduce human-animal conflict and avoid being wiped out by disease or natural disaster.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2016

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