Saturday, October 20, 2007

Open wells, live wires threat to lions!

20 Oct 2007, 0109 hrs IST,TNN

AHMEDABAD: Open wells and live electric wires in fields are old problems. However, officials said the Friday incident was one of the biggest so far in the history of Gir sanctuary, and the second in this year. Earlier, in January, a lion died because of electrocution in Jafrabad taluka.

Every year, a larger number of animals die after falling in open wells or due to electrocution. There are over 8,000 open wells and officials have not taken any step to have parapets constructed along them. When it comes to electrocution, forest officials pass the buck on to GEB saying the board is supposed to check the fields.

As one drives around Gir, especially towards Dhari, one can find barbed wire fencing with thorny bushes around. Farmers on the periphery of Gir National Park frequently use illegal electric fences and connect high voltage overhead power lines directly to these fences. This has on several occasions led to the electrocution of Asiatic lions and other wildlife.

A farmer near Dhari said, "A group of animals can completely destroy the standing crop creating huge losses. To protect the crop we have to pass electric current." Former principal chief conservator of forest Sanat Chauhan says, "This problem existed earlier but of late it has been increasing." He, however, said regular checking by GEB and forest department did help bring things under control. He said, "Lion conservation societies which existed in past do not exist any more. Hence there is no regular monitoring or feedback from people."


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