The Gujarat Forest Department has trapped and caged 13 of a 16-member pride of Asiatic Lions in Amreli district in Saurashtra region, falling under the eastern range of Gir forests, following three recent attacks on humans by the big cats, an official said.
Deputy Conservator of Forest, Dhari, T. Karuppasamy told IANS that three lions were caught on Sunday and 10 earlier as a precautionary measure as well as to establish which of the lions had attacked humans around Ambardi and Barad villages.
“A scat (excreta) analysis report of the lions would establish if the lions had eaten the humans,” he said, adding that this would be clear in three to four days.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, Jamaal Ahmed Khan said: “It is premature to say that the lions had indeed turned man-eaters. We will know this only after close examination and scat analysis of the animal which carries traces of the flesh eaten by it.”
In the latest incident on Friday, a lion had killed 21-year-old Jayesh Solanki when he and his father were sleeping outside in the fields in Ambardi village. The half-eaten body of Jayesh was found some 500 metres away from the farm, according to Nagabhai Javandhra, who owns the farm.
“The scat analysis will tell us if it was a lion or some other animal who had eaten the human flesh after the lion had killed Jayesh,” said Karuppasamy.
According to him, in another incident on April 10, a lioness had killed 50-year-old Labhuben Solanki, in Bharad village under Dhari taluka while she was sleeping in an orchard in the vicinity of the forests with her family members. Prior to that, on March 19, 62-year-old Jinabhai was mauled to death by a lion in a similar manner when he was camping at Ambardi.
The forest officials had nabbed two lions and detected human bone and a part of cloth of the dead from the stool of one of them. The beast was sent to the animal care centre in Sasan.
According last year’s census, Amreli district is home to over 170 Asiatic lions.
Meanwhile, former minister and BJP leader Dileep Sanghani has urged the state government to provide arms to farmers residing on the periphery of the Gir lion sanctuary and allow them to kill lions and leopards in self defence.
In a letter to state’s forest minister, Sanghani noted that attacks on humans by wild animals like lions and leopards in revenue and privately owned areas near the sanctuary have increased recently.
“Attacks on cattle have been happening for long time, but when wild animals have become human eaters, the forest department should form a committee and make arms available to farmers with liberty to kill lions and leopards for self protection,” he said.
Earlier BJP legislator and Patidar agitation leader Nalin Kotadia had, at a public meeting against a proposed eco-sensitive zone in villages around Gir forest, advised villagers to kill lions. Kotadia was criticized widely for this statement and his effigies were burnt by BJP leaders in rural Saurashtra.