Wildlife & Biodiversity

Lion attack in safari park near Gir, one killed

The Devaliya Safari Park near Sasan houses 10 lions. On Thursday morning, three forest department employees were attacked, resulting in the death of one and injuries to the others

 
By Rajat Ghai
Last Updated: Thursday 29 November 2018
Lions
A lion in Gir National Park. Credit: Getty Images A lion in Gir National Park. Credit: Getty Images

One person has died and two others injured after being mauled by Asiatic lions inside a safari park near Gujarat's Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park.

At around 11 am on Thursday morning, lions attacked Rajnish Keshwala, a tracker employed with the forest department. Another employee, Dinesh, who had tried to rescue Keshwala, was injured. News agency United News of India (UNI) reported that the lions, which are housed in cages inside the park, dragged Keshwala into the nearby forest. His mutilated body was later found at a distance of 2 kilometres from the cages.

A forester, Meramal Bharda, was also injured while trying to retrieve Keshwala’s body.

The Devaliya Safari Park-cum-Interpretation Zone near Sasan houses 10 lions. 

“I understand that these lions are fed, managed and kept inside cages,” noted lion expert Ravi Chellam told Down To Earth.

“Unfortunately, officials in our country usually treat all lions, whether wild or captive, in a similar manner,” he rued.

“These are carnivores and big cats and are potentially dangerous. They can't  be taken for granted,” another veteran lion expert, Meena Venkataraman told Down To Earth.

“A conclusion can only be reached once we know what triggered the aggression in the lions,” she added.

"It is a most unfortunate event. Both the lions that attacked Rajnish have been put back in their cages. We have decided that they will not be released into the open again, for the safety of tourists," D T Vasavada, Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh told Down To Earth

The two injured employees have been admitted to a hospital in Junagadh city.

"The Devaliya Safari Park will open for the public on Friday morning," said Vasavada.

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