Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Another ‘lion with live bait’ video goes viral
In the latest clip, a calf is seen tied to a peg, and as the lion approaches a couple of people are heard talking in Gujarati. Once again, this clip has been shot outside the sanctuary area, raising serious questions about the monitoring of lions in the greater Gir area that is in districts of Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar.
Officials in the forest department, who have seen the clip, say that the landscape appears to be in the revenue area of Una. They said it appears that the ‘guide’ is carrying a walkie talkie handset, as there is a message which is flashed in the end asking the person to give a record of something.
The officials said in this case too, a calf was tied and left to be attacked by the lion. The spectator group then moves towards the lion and gets close when the lion eats the calf.
An officer said that farmers living in the revenue area are involved in such illegal activity. The forest department arrested Sohil Garana in April, the son of a former forest department employee, and then found that such activity was rampant across Saurashtra, wherever there was the permanent presence of lions.
Forest officials involved in the earlier investigation said they had found 200-odd videos from the seven persons arrested in the case, including Garana. Officials said the six others had deleted the videos from their mobile phones, but they will be sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory to retrieve the deleted data.
An investigator said that with the help of beat guards and guides, people like Garana target families who were unable to view lions during their safaris within the sanctuary. They also stay in touch with farmhouse owners and hotel staff, who lure tourists to the illegal shows by showing them the video clips.
A family could be charged anything from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 for an illegal lion show. If they wanted to shoot the lion making the kill, the charge would be from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000. The charges vary according to the number of members in the visiting group, said forest officials.