Thursday, October 30, 2014

Beware of lion: Threat that keeps intruders away in Greater Gir.

AHMEDABAD : In the Greater Gir, lions are not only tolerated by humans, but it appears that humans in the area also assiduously cultivate the company of the magnificent beasts. It turns out that the lions' special place in the human scheme of things owes to their capacity to be security guards who ward off blue bulls and wild boars, animals which can destroy fields if given a free run.

These facts emerged from a study, 'Ecology of Lions in Greater Gir Landscape', carried out by two doctors — Jalpan C Rupapara and Purvesh K Kacha. They have pointed out the burgeoning population of blue bulls in the Greater Gir area is a major threat to the fields. But when lions are around, farmers do not have to bother about either the blue bulls or indeed the wild boars.

Interestingly, the villagers also consider lions to be wildlife showpieces and call their friends and relatives from adjacent talukas and villages for big cat shows.

In 2009, a lioness and four cubs strayed into Gondal following heavy rains and were marooned. They were rescued and caged in the Sakarbaugh Zoo. The residents were so exercised by the capture that they launched an agitation and forced the forest department to release the lions in the same area. Such is the attachment, altruistic or not, that the villagers feel towards the lions.

The human-beast bonhomie is broken only when the lions are disturbed. In fact, the report states that lion attacks almost always happen when the animals are teased. However, the truth is never revealed by the victims of such attacks because illegal lion shows organized by local residents are the primary cause of irritation for the lions.

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