18 lions have been “arrested” by Indian forest officials, in an attempt to find out which of the beasts killed three people. Recently, six attacks on humans have been reported in the area, which is the only habitat of the endangered Asiatic lion.
Officials believe that one dangerous lion is behind the attacks and they are holding suspects in separate cages until they find the killer.
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Forest workers in Gujarat state are planning to test the lions’ paw prints and excrement in an attempt to identify the killer cat. If ‘convicted’ the guilty beast will be banged up in a zoo for the rest of it’s days while the ‘innocent’ lions will be released back into the 545 square mile Gir sanctuary, which is the sole home of Asiatic lions.
Gujarat’s top forest official, JA Khan, said:
‘We think we have pinpointed the guilty lion, but we are still awaiting the results of nine more animals.’
Wildlife expert Ruchi Dave, speaking to the BBC, said the officials are also studying the animals’ behaviour. Man eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being.
Other experts fear that the attacks could be due to the thriving lion population which is expanding beyond the bounds of the sanctuary.
Govind Patel, the former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat, told the Indian Express that Gir could accommodate only 270 lions, meaning that some are settling outside.
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India’s Supreme Court has ruled that Gujarat needed to relocate some of its lions to other states to avoid the possibility of disease or other disaster wiping out the entire population. The state has however expressed reluctance and has not yet complied with the order.