A video showing a man dragging an animal carcass behind his motorbike and an Asiatic lion following the trail went viral on Wednesday. While forest officers said that an enquiry had been initiated in the matter, sources said that the man in the video was a lion tracker and that he was removing the carcass from the public gaze.
In the 15 second long-video, a man riding a motorbike is seen emerging from a dirt track. A carcass tied to his motorbike and being dragged leaves a plume of dust in its wake. Just a few seconds later, a male Asiatic lion emerges from the dust plume, apparently following the carcass even as bystanders are heard saying, “There comes the lion!”
Video of a man dragging a carcass behind his motorbike and an Asiatic lion following him, goes viral. Sources say this is in Amreli district. Top forest officers in Gir say the bike-rider and the crime scene have been identified and that strict action will be taken @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/ZfQjj0gE2C
— Gopal Kateshiya (@gopalreports) May 15, 2019
Dushyant Vasavada, the chief conservator of forests of Junagadh wildlife circle, said that the forest department had taken cognisance of the incident.
“Today, one video has gone viral in which a person on a motorbike is dragging dead body of an animal which is being followed by a lion. Forest department has already started an enquiry,” Vasavada said.
Vasavada further said that the enquiry had already made a head-start. “The person (dragging the carcass) has been identified and so is the spot. Strict action will be taken against all offenders involved in the crime,” added Vasavada.
However, sources said that action shown in the video was nothing but a lion tracker removing a carcass from the public gaze. Sources claimed that the video was shot in Amreli district and that the lion tracker was merely shifting the carcass away from the public so that lions can feast on it without being distracted by the presence of humans around.
Asiatic lions have been categorised as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The only wild population of this big cat species in the world is surviving in Gir forest and other protected areas spread across Junagadh, Amreli, Gir Somnath and Bhavnagar districts in Sauarashtra region of Gujarat. Their population was estimated to be 523 in the year 2015.
Asiatic lions has been included in Schedule-I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and thus enjoys the highest legal protection afforded to an animal in the country. Harassing the carnivores is a punishable offence.