| Under threat
Ahmedabad, April 15: Two more carcasses of Asiatic lions, said to have been killed by poachers, have been dug up in Bhavnagar district.
The remains of the two adult lions were found buried in forests near Bhandariya village, over 100 km from the Gir wildlife sanctuary.
Forest officials confirmed the poaching, adding that the carcasses were apparently cut into pieces about four days ago before being buried at different locations.
Police and forest officials went to the site last evening after a farmer informed them about a foul smell emanating from a spot. Several sites were dug up before one carcass was found yesterday and the other this morning.
With this, the total number of lions killed since March 3 has gone up to eight.
The foul smell indicated that the lions were killed about four days ago — after the state government had launched a search, announced a “mechanism” to protect wild animals and claimed to have cracked the March 3 and 6 poaching cases in the Babariya range.
Information on the fresh poaching was extracted from three persons arrested from Bhavnagar on Thursday with lion traps, sharp weapons and pieces of animal hide. They are said to have confessed to poaching four lions and informed the police of the location of the remains.
Sources said the number of lions killed could be higher as this area has been a permanent habitat of 12 lions. Of the 359 lions in the wild in Saurashtra, almost 100 are outside the protected area — the Gir sanctuary.
When the big cats stray out of the sanctuary, they become vulnerable to poachers moving around on the pretext of selling herbs and camping in the areas.
An intensive combing operation by the police is on for suspected hunters moving in the guise of labourers from Madhya Pradesh in the jungles of Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar.
Villagers are also being questioned about suspicious movement in the jungles, police sources said.