February 4, 2021 9:48:20 am
An Asiatic lion attacked suspected poachers when they allegedly tried to trap its cub in Sutrapada taluka of Gir Somnath district Wednesday. The lioness injured one of the accused who, along with three others, were later nabbed by a joint team of forest department and Junagadh district police, officials said.
The suspected poachers had put up a trap on a patch of government wasteland at Khambha village near Prachi in Sutrapada taluka of Gir Somnath district, Sunil Berwal, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Junagadh territorial forest division, said.
“Such traps are usually used to trap small animals. But a lion cub was trapped in it Wednesday morning. However, the mother of the cub was nearby and it attacked the men, injuring one of them. The suspects had rushed the injured to a hospital in Talala, after
which doctors alerted the forest department,” Berwal told The Indian Express.
The injured man was identified as Habib Samsher Parmar (40), a resident of Thangadh in Surendrangar district.
“After being alerted that a man had been injured in a lion attack, our team reached the spot and found that the cub’s leg was trapped in a clamp-like trap. The cub was rescued. It had suffered only minor injury,” Berwal said. The DCF said that sensing forest department could be looking for him, Parmar and rest of the alleged suspected poachers ran away from the hospital.
Bimalkumar Bhatt, Range Forest Officer of Talala in Gir (west) wildlife division said, “Parmer ran away from the hospital with an oxygen cylinder (and the tubes attached to it) that was helping him breathe.”
The accused was caught near Vadla village in Vanthali taluka. “In a well-coordinated operation by the police and the forest department, the injured man was caught from near Vadla village. He has injuries in his belly and he has been admitted to the civil hospital in Junagadh,” Berwal said. Three other men, who were accompanying the injured man, have also been picked up and are being questioned, he said.
The DCF said prima facie it looked like a poaching attempt. “We are investigating if the men intended to poach a lion or some other animal,” he said. The forest department is also ascertaining the number of members of the alleged gang and their real identities.
Gir forest and other protected areas spread across Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts are the last natural habitat of Asiatic lions. No poaching attempt by any gang has been reported in Gir area since 2007.
After Wednesday’s incident, Greater Gir Wildlife Protection Task Force in Junagadh issued an alert to forest and wildlife divisions in Saurashtra to intensify patrolling and report movement of suspects from other districts or from outside Gujarat.
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