Ahmedabad: In a strange development, three of the 17 male lions captured by the police last month for murdering three people near Gir Sanctuary and identified as “man-eaters” have been sentenced to be kept at a zoo and the Gujarat forest department’s rescue centre.
The ‘judgment’ came after an analysis of their pug marks and faeces during a 25-day captivity. The probe found that one adult male and two sub-adult female lions had turned man-eaters and were held 'guilty' of killing locals, as human remains were found from the excreta of these three lions, Chief Conservator of Forest for Junagadh division, A P Singh, said.
"Out of the 17 lions captured by us last month, one was a male adult, and it turned out to be the main culprit. We found considerable amount of human remains in that lion's faeces, while very small amount was found from the faeces of two sub-adult females," he said.
"It brought us to the conclusion that the male lion attacked, killed and ate humans while two other sub-adults only ate some leftover body parts. These sub-adults were not involved in attacking and killing humans, as they only ate the leftover parts," said Singh.
"Now, the male lion will be kept for its entire life in a cage at Sakkarbaug zoo on the outskirts of Junagadh city, while the two lionesses will be kept locked in any of forest department's rescue centre for their lives," he said.
"All the three lions have to spend their lives in captivity now. The other 14 lions of the pride, including several cubs, will be released in the (Gir) sanctuary. As a precaution, they will be released in deeper pockets of the sanctuary, far away from where they were captured," he said.
The pride of 17 lions was caged last month outside Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Dhari taluka of Amreli district, on the border of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.
A major portion of the Gir sanctuary falls in the adjoining Junagadh district. Dhari taluka lies on the border of the sanctuary.
The forest department had started the drive to cage the lions after three persons - a 14-year-old boy, a woman aged around 50 and a 61-year-old man - were mauled to death by the felines in the same region in April and May.
Prior to these incidents, the man-lion conflict was rare in and around Gir, the only abode of Asiatic lions where there are around 523 lions, as per the last census.
These incidents sparked anger among the locals, who along with some political leaders, including former Amreli MLA Dilip Sanghani, demanded action against man-eater lions.
(With PTI inputs)