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Live fence kills 5 lions

Ahmedabad, Oct. 19: The carcasses of five Asiatic lions have been dug up in spots near the Gir sanctuary.

Forest officials said the lions had been electrocuted.

A farmer has been arrested from the area, located in Prempara of Amreli district. Officials haven’t accused him of poaching, but of having electrified the fence around his land to keep the animals from straying in.

The carcasses, of three cubs and two females, were found buried in separate places.

Bharat Pathak, in charge of the Gir sanctuary, said the farmer would be charged with destroying evidence under the wildlife act. “After the lions were killed, he did not inform the forest officials and instead tried to destroy the evidence.”

Farmers near the sanctuary electrify their fencing, an illegal practice that has led to the deaths of many of the endangered species, Pathak said.

The incident comes months after the carcasses of two lions, killed by poachers, were dug up in Bhavnagar district, about 100km from the Gir sanctuary. The twin deaths were reported after poachers killed six lions in quick succession on March 3 and March 6 in the Babariya range within the sanctuary.

Information on the Bhavnagar case was extracted from three persons arrested with traps, weapons and pieces of animal hide. They had confessed to poaching four lions and told the police about the location of the remains.

The Wildlife Protection Society of India said 32 lions have died in the national park this year.

Last month, investigators arrested two persons allegedly belonging to a “pan-national poaching syndicate”.

A Gujarat CID team scoured five states and arrested the duo in Madhya Pradesh. The officers said the poachers stalked their quarry on foot for days.

Forest officials said the big cats become vulnerable when they stray out of the sanctuary. Poachers posing as herb-sellers camp in these areas.

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