Environment

Gir Lions Attack Forest Officials Team, Kill One

The incident prompted forest officials to close the safari park for tourists while two lions were caught and caged.

New Delhi: A lion attack left one person dead and two injured in the Devalia Safari Park in Gujarat’s Junagadh district on November 29.

Forest officers said that at around 11 am, a lion first attacked a labourer, identified as Rajnish Keshwala, who was keeping watch on animal movement, and dragged him inside the park Thursday morning.

According to sources, since the two most experienced lion trackers were on leave, Keshwala was covering them. When another labourer, Dinesh Kacha, tried to rescue him, more lions attacked him as well. However, Kacha managed to escape and alerted forest officials. They mounted a search operation for Keshwala.

“When Keshwala’s body was being recovered, the lions attacked one of the foresters, Meraman Bharda,” said Dushyant Vasavada, the chief conservator of forests (CCF). “This is an extremely rare event. We are trying to ascertain in what circumstances the lions attacked the trackers,” he added.

Also Read: With Two More Lions Dead in Gir, Toll Reaches 23

The incident prompted forest officials to close the safari park for tourists and the two lions were caught and put in a cage. Akshay Kumar Saxena, the principal chief conservator of forests and the chief wildlife warden of Gujarat, ordered the Junagadh CCF to conduct an inquiry into the incident.

Earlier, the carcass of a lioness between nine and twelve years of age, had been found at the Tulsishyam Range of the forest near Amreli district.

In a short span of time, several big cats had died in Gir and six lion cubs were found dead in different parts of the forest on separate occasions. Following an outbreak of canine distemper virus infections in September, 36 lions had been captured and shifted to three rescue centres as a precautionary measure.

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