An Asiatic lion died after falling into an open well in Piyava village of Visavadar taluka of Junagadh district in Gir West division late on Wednesday, forest officials said.
The incident came to light when residents of Piyava village alerted local forest guards that a lion was floating in a well of a farmer. However, by the time rescuers reached the spot at around 10 pm on Wednesday, the animal had died and they could only fish out its carcass.
“The well in which the lion fell is in bed of a river and covered by bushes. Even a human being would not come to know that there is a well. We believe, the lion fell into it accidentally when it went to the river to drink water,” Ram Ratan Nala, deputy conservator of forest (DCF) of Gir West division told The Indian Express on Thursday.
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The DCF said that the lion was around eight years old.
Forest officials ruled out any foul play in the incident. “Veterinarians who conducted a post-mortem of the carcass have concluded that the lion died of drowning. They further said that it must have fallen in the well less than 24 hours ago,” added Nala.
Incidentally, a lion was allegedly electrocuted on agricultural field of a farmer in Moti Monpari village of Visavadar after it came in contact with a live electric wire which the farmer had set around his field to ward off wild animals like wild boars and blue bulls from damaging his standing crop. But after finding the lion dead, the farmer had pushed its carcass in a culvert to make it look like the carnivore was washed away in a stream. Seven persons were arrested in connection with that incident.
The death comes weeks after 11 lions were killed in flash floods in Amreli district in June. Asiatic lions are an endangered species and their only wild population in the world is surviving in Gir forest and adjoining areas in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The 2015 lion census had pegged the number of the top predator at 523.