Saturday, October 20, 2007

Indian wildlife park loses 32 rare Asiatic lions.

Indian wildlife park loses 32 rare Asiatic lions
11 hours ago

NEW DELHI (AFP) — A total of 32 rare lions have died at a national park this year, the Wildlife Protection Society of India said Friday.

The society said five lions had recently been electrocuted, adding to a long list of deaths this year at Gir National Park in western Gujarat state.

"The Asiatic lion is one of the most critically endangered species on this planet and this added twist of so many lions being killed by electrocution... is a catastrophe", said Belinda Wright, the society's executive director.

"Preliminary information suggests that the three lionesses and two cubs were electrocuted by a crop protection fence put up by a farmer near Dhari, Amreli district, in an area adjoining Gir National Park," she said in a statement.

"This new tragedy brings the number of Gir lions that have died this year to a staggering total of 32 lions."

The society listed eight lions killed by poaching, six electrocuted, five fallen into wells, one hit by a vehicle and 12 others found dead.

The Wildlife Protection Society of India is already working closely with the enforcement authorities to curb the killing of lions by professional poachers, the society said.

The number of Asiatic lions plummeted from around 1,000 a century ago to just 20 in 1913 but the creation of the Gir sanctuary after India's independence from British colonial rule in 1947 helped revive the population.

The 1,400-square-kilometre (560-square-mile) sanctuary -- the world's only natural habitat for the lions -- was home to more than 350 lions when the latest census was carried out in 2005.

Poachers hunt in Gir for pelt, claws and body parts, which have ready markets outside India.


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