In a shocking video that went viral on social media, a lioness was seen running amok in a village in Porbandar, Gujarat, on Tuesday, 12 February, sending panicked villagers running for their lives.
According to the forest department, the full-grown lioness attacked two people. Fortunately, the two sustained only minor injuries and were immediately treated.
Gujarat is the last home for the rare Asiatic Lions and the state government claims that there are over 600 lions living across the state. However, over 55 percent of these big cats live outside the protected areas of the Gir wildlife sanctuary and are constantly crossing paths with humans, albeit most of these interactions pass without any incident.
The latest video that has gone viral has raised eyebrows over the state government’s claim to offer the best conservation measures for the big cats.
Five years have passed since the Supreme Court ordered the central and state governments to translocate some lions to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh to ensure that the lion population proliferates in new territory. However, the state government has openly defied the SC ruling and not a single lion has been translocated to MP.
Forest Department Downplays the Incident
The Quint spoke with the Deputy Conservator of Forests in Porbandar, Ishwar Rabari, who downplayed the incident and said that the village lies in the periphery of the forest, and lions are a common sight.
“This incident happened in Madhavpur village in Porbandar district. Two people were injured in the incident. One of the injured was warned by the villagers not to get too curious about the lioness, but he didn’t pay heed and ventured out anyway. He was caught in the path of the lioness while she was running back to the forest.”Ishwar Rabari, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Porbandar,
“The second person who injured was unaware that a lioness was in the vicinity. He was collecting flowers when he encountered the feline who was running back to the forest. Both sustained minor injuries which were treated immediately,” he added.
According to Rabari. the lioness will return to the heart of the jungle once night sets in.
Central Govt Allots Rs 98 Crore for Lion Conservation
Incidentally, the Union Ministry of Environment on Friday, 8 February, launched a three-year Asiatic Lion Conservation Project in collaboration with the state of Gujarat, which is the last habitat of the big cats.
The Rs 98-crore project, for which the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has allocated Rs 59 crores, over spans three years – 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 – and will focus on better management of the lion habitat, disease control and veterinary care for them.
While launching the project, Union minister Harsh Vardhan released an amount of Rs 17 crore to the Gujarat government for the implementation of the project aimed to protect over 600 lions in the state's Gir sanctuary in its first year.