WITHIN HOURS of a five-year-old boy in Amreli district being killed in a lioness attack, the Gujarat Forest Department succeeded in rescuing the female Asiatic lion and her two cubs in an overnight operation which concluded in the early hours of Wednesday. “The lioness involved in yesterday’s incident has been captured with two cubs last night,” Dushyant Vasavada, Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh wildlife circle, said on Wednesday.
A rescue team led by Sandeep Kumar, the in-charge Deputy Conservator of Forests of Shetrunji wildlife division, managed to capture the lioness and her two cubs in a ring-cage placed in the area between 10 pm and 11 pm on Tuesday. Shetrunji wildlife division is part of Junagadh wildlife circle.
“We have shifted the lioness and her cubs to Babarkot rescue centre. We shall keep the animals under observation for some time and then decide the future course of action,” the CCF told The Indian Express.
The Gujarat Forest Departm-ent keeps under observation lions suspected to have killed humans and analyses their scat (animal droppings containing undigested food) to trace human hair. This is done to decipher if the animals caged are indeed the ones that had attacked and eaten a person.
In the wee hours of Tuesday, the lioness had allegedly attacked and killed five-year-old Kishor Parmar — son of agricultural labourers — while he was asleep in an open area near an agricultural field in Uchaiya village in Rajula taluka of Amreli district. Later, forest staff recovered his partially-eaten body from a forest patch known as Bherai Vidi near Pipavav port, around four kilometre away from Uchaiya.
After the incident, the Forest Department had recorded movement of an Asiatic lioness in the area and concluded that the boy had been killed by the big cat. Forest staff had placed a ring cage to rescue the lioness and her two cubs.
Gir forest and other protected areas spread across Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts in Saurashtra region of Gujarat are the last natural abode of Asiatic lions, an endangered species of big cats. Lions are territorial animals and many of them have also settled in revenue areas — including Rajula taluka — after dispersing from Gir forest due to growth in their population.
Asiatic lions generally do not attack humans without provocation, though lionesses with young ones tend to remain protective and display aggressiveness at times. While forest officers said that they are investigating circumstances of the attack, sources claimed that the child, after waking up early on Tuesday morning, may have tried to play with the two cubs, making the lioness aggressive.
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