The Gujarat High Court on Monday sought a reply from the state government on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a CID probe into the death of a pregnant lioness at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. A bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice VM Pancholi asked the government to submit its reply by October 13.
The PIL was filed by animal rights activist Biren Pandya.
The carcass of the lioness was found at Talala range of the sanctuary on September 1. Autopsy revealed that it was pregnant.
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The PIL stated that the suspected cause of the death of the animal was electrocution and alleged that the Forest department’s investigation was “not making any progress”.
“The said death is an unnatural one which is an offence under section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and inaction will only encourage the perpetrators to roam free,” the petition said.
Cases of poaching and unnatural deaths of Asiatic lions were on the rise in the sanctuary, it claimed, adding that 310 of them had died at Gir in the last five years.
The PIL also sought a direction to the Forest department to fill up the vacant posts as a shortage of staff was “hampering the security” at the sanctuary.
The Wildlife Crime Cell of the Forest department was largely “defunct”, the petition alleged.