Wildlife enthusiasts in Gujarat have launched an online petition demanding that a Gir lion, caged since last year for wounding a woman who later died of heart attack, be freed. “This handsome young Asiatic Lion from Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary is behind bars in Sakkerbaug zoo, Junagadh, for no fault of his since December 2015 and for being a wild (aggressive) lion in natural course...,” the petition, meant for the state’s principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), states.
“Please show your concern and ask the government of Gujarat to release this young handsome male lion to his original habitat, where two of his brothers are waiting for him,” adds the petition.
Jaidev Dhadhal, who initiated the campaign, says the lion belonging to a three-member pride is being held in custody for no reason.
He says the lion acted in self-defence after Hansa Dhamecha, a woman of Samapara village near Junagadh, got too close to it. Dhamecha sustained bruises and forest officials admit she later died of shock.
Forest officials say the lion could be a threat to humans if left free. “After Dhamecha was attacked by the lion, the victim died of heart attack. The lion did not prey on her, but the attack caused bruises and bites, which means the lion has tasted human blood. It will be too risky to release this lion into wild,” conservator of forest (Junagadh Division) SK Mehta told HT.