Thursday, July 2, 2009

Six killed, 46 injured in lion attacks in two years

Six killed, 46 injured in lion attacks in two years
In the last two years, six persons have been killed and 46 injured in lion attacks. On Wednesday, the forest department told State Assembly that in last 13 months, till 30 May, 2009, three persons died while 46 were badly mauled by prowling big cats.
The department said a compensation of Rs 5.95 lakh was paid to those killed and injured. During the same period, 2,527 domestic animals were killed in lion attacks. Of these, 339 cattle belonged to 314 Maldharis who stay within the Gir sanctuary. The department has awarded a compensation of Rs 26.90 lakh for animals killed by lions.
In reply to a query, the department said from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2008, three persons were killed and 2,136 animals attacked by lions. It said in the last two years — from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2009 — a compensation worth Rs 76.09 lakh was paid just for animal killings.
The department is yet to pay a compensation of Rs 16.21 lakh for animal killings and Rs 50,000 for people injured in lion attacks.

A senior bureaucrat said with more lions moving out of Gir Sanctuary and making other areas their home, mananimal conflicts are growing. He said though not many human casualties have been reported, number of animal killings has gone up by nearly 400 in a year. Officers said the lion population has increased because of proper conservation measures. They said apart from conservation steps taken by the forest department, people are also sensitive to the cause of lions conservation. "Villagers would often sacrifice their cattle for lion," said government officials.

Forest department is in the process of developing new sanctuaries which includes the Barda Dungar in Porbandar. The department declared Pania, Mitiyala and Gir as sanctuaries. The total area of these three sanctuaries put together is around 235 sq km and another 190 sq km, which is the area of Barda, is ready for shifting of lions. Officials said the carrying capacity of Gir Sanctuary was just 280 lions and hence, 70 lions have moved to Palitana, in Bhavnagar and to Porbandar.