Thursday, October 30, 2014
At lion rescue centre, cubs yanked out of cage by visitors.
MAHUVA (BHAVNAGAR ): Lions are not safe in reserved forests too!
A family not only got access into the reserved forest area of Ranigala near Mahuva but also managed to take out lion cubs from the rescue cages to play with them. One of the family members posted the pictures of his family playing with the cubs on the social networking site.
The photos, which are in TOI possession, show that the cubs were brought out of the cages into the open area. Sources said that lion cubs were rescued by forest department after they were abandoned by lioness in the forest. Other photos show that a woman and a man playing with two cubs inside the animal rescue enclosures in the forest.
Asiatic Lion is protected under schedule one category under Wildlife Protection Act-1972, the highest protection given to wild animal in the country.
When contacted, deputy conservator of forests, Bhavnagar, KS Randhawa said, "If this is true, it is extremely alarming and I will look into this matter. We will take action against those persons who are found responsible for this."
Sources said that this could be among the most alarming incidents of how people have easy access to lions even in reserve forest areas. No wonder, this is the same area, from where 10-month-old lion cub had gone missing in April 2012 and forest department is yet to trace it.
In April 2011, a lion was electrocuted at Valar village in Mahuva range. When the carcass was found, the claws were missing. Four persons were arrested in the connection but forest officials have not found the claws.
Sources said that human danger is always lurking for lions in Ranigala. During holidays and sometimes weekends, large number get unauthorized access to the area and they come with SUVs and cars. Sources also said that people freely move behind the lions in their cars.
According to the last census, there were 411 lions in the sanctuary and of this, 33 were in Bhavnagar district, mostly in Mahuva range. Over a decade ago, lions from Gir forest migrated towards Mahuva and have settled here permanently.