Monday, November 10, 2008

74 Lions have died due to open wells in Gir:On Friday two more died

Junagadh, DeshGujarat, 8 November, 2008

74 Asiatic lions have died due to presence of thousands of open wells without parapat in and around Gir Forest area in Gujarat in last couple of years. On Friday morning two more young male Asiatic lions were found dead in an open well near Mitiyana village in Amreli district. As the well was not covered, the lions fell into it and were drowned.

There are more than 6,000 blind wells within a 6 km-radius of the sanctuary’s borders. The number of wells has gone up in the past couple of years. Saurashtra is an arid zone where farmers dig wells for irrigation purposes. But these are the very areas that fall in the lion’s migration path. Lions and leopards usually fall into the blind wells while hunting at night. In pursuit of stray cattle or other prey foraging in the fields or farms on the sanctuary’s periphery, they often fall into these wells and drown before anyone can even spot them. As more land comes under cultivation around the Sanctuary, the number of blind wells are rising, posing a threat to wild cats.

Sadly, except for appealing to the farmers to cover the wells, there is nothing much that the Forest Department can do as their jurisdiction does not cover these revenue areas. All it requires is proper legislation. People in lion migration areas must be forbidden to construct wells. There are more than 150 lions in non-protected areas.

Chief conservator of forest Bharat Pathak has reportedly said that under a joint programme undertaken by the state government in assistance with some NGOs, work was on to cover open wells in and around Gir Forest. Last year, about 4,000 open wells have been covered in the region. In Dhari range during the year 2007-08, a total of 1,023 open wells were covered.


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