Asiatic Lions and Their Unfortunate Abode
The state Forest Department found the carcass of a lioness from the Tulsishyam range in Gir forest in the district, officials said on Saturday. The big cat was killed by a sharp weapon.
The carcass of a seven-year-old lioness was found on Thursday night from the protected forest area. It was then brought to the Forest Department’s Jasadar medical clinic for animals for a postmortem, they said.
As per the postmortem report, the lioness had received several wounds on the left side of her chest by a sharp weapon, the officials added.
The Forest Department has launched an investigation into the suspected poaching incident and Regional Forest Officer B P Ranparia is heading the inquiry.
Department officials said that this is a case of poaching and they will leave no stone unturned to get to the culprits.
Two years ago, nine lions had been killed in separate incidents by a gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh. The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the last abode of the Asiatic lion. A 2005 census had found 259 lions in the sanctuary. The next such census is likely to be conducted in 2010.
Next, is this why Gir is in trouble?!
Lion census is set to begin shortly at the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, and the state Forest Department may also take up GIS mapping this time. But in an irony of sorts, a recent training conducted by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has shown that only 16 per cent of the total staff manning the sanctuary actually knows the exact application of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. About 490 Gir staff had attended the first-ever WTI training in Gujarat.
Rakesh Singh, WTI Coordinator, told The Sunday Express: “The training was conducted from December 9 to 25 and had two segments. In some cases, it was disappointing to know that the forest officials were not even aware of the application of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Under this Act, every forest officer is empowered to arrest a person, detain vehicles and even seize property if he comes across any wildlife crime. However, not many forest guards and range forest officers were aware about this.”
He added: “There were multiple choice questions in the post training session. Only 50 per cent of the total participants were able to identify the pug/hoof marks of antelopes, lions, sloth bear, chital, hyena, sambhar and black bucks.”
WTI officials said most of the forest officers had already completed 30 years of service as beat guards and range officers.
“The Forest Department has been giving training to the frontline staff, but most of them failed to answer basic queries such as how crime investigation should be done,” Singh said. He also did not rule out that a lack of understanding of wildlife could lead under-reporting of cases.