Monday, June 29, 2015

Lothario lion Raju no more.

AHMEDABAD: Even while he was growing up, he loved solitude and lived as a nomad even as an adult. Raju the lion who, was usually seen within the Gir sanctuary area was popularly known as a 'playboy' among forest staff.

Raju breathed his last at age 10, dying of weakness. He was suffering from paralysis and died as he wasn't able to hunt anymore. Raju was known among beat guards, jeep drivers and even the guides as a playboy. He never had his own territory nor did he have his family, but he fathered several cubs in the sanctuary.

Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests, says that between the age of three-and-a-half and four years, a cub stepping into adulthood is thrown out of the pride so he can establish his own territory. The cub then, sometimes with the help of another lion of the same age, captures a territory and establishes his pride. "Usually pairs of two adult lions form establish their own territory. Of late there have been instances where three lions have allied together to establish their own pride," he said.

Even though Raju didn't have his own territory, he was very popular among lionesses, particularly the younger ones. Raju's entire life has been documented, not only in a research paper, but also in a book The Magestic Lions of Gir written by Sandeep Kumar.

Raju's life was never easy as he had to hunt his own food. "Usually the lionesses hunt, but in the case of the nomadic males, they have to carry out hunts on his own. Raju, who suffered from paralysis in his fag end of life and consequently couldn't hunt successfully, grew weak and died," he said.

Raju life was never smooth. He got into many fights with lions ruling territories and had been injured. However, Raju the playboy played a major role in improving the gene pool in the area.

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