The Gujarat High Court sought a report from the state government on the death of a pregnant lioness due to electrocution last month while hearing a PIL on Monday, seeking a CID investigation into the incident. The PIL alleged that forest officials have not done proper investigation despite rampant cases of unnatural deaths of Asiatic lions in the recent past in Gir wildlife sanctuary. The petition was filed by activist Biren Pandya, a resident of Ahmedabad, claiming carcass of the pregnant lioness was recovered from Hiren river and the investigation conducted by the forest department into her death made no headway.
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The petitioner has said that locals have “illegally” fenced their land with electric wire, leading to incidents of electrocution, and yet the forest officials have done nothing to prevent it. According to the petition, over 300 Asiatic lions have died in the sanctuary in the last five years in similar incidents. The PIL also sought direction to the forest department to fill posts lying vacant since many years.
It alleged that the wildlife crime cell of the forest department, formed after an incident of poaching in 2007, had remained largely defunct. It said every lion was important and therefore, laxity in investigation would lead to loss of its population.