The train accident that claimed three Asiatic lion cubs near Pipavav ( Gujarat, India ) on Wednesday night has raised serious questions about the forests department’s seriousness in ensuring the safety of these endangered wild cats, many of which have strayed from their original home in Gir ( Sasan, Gujarat, India ).
Three lion cubs were crushed to death near Rampara (Gujarat, India) railway crossing about a kilometer from Pipavav.
After a series of incidents last year in which lions were killed under trains in this particular area, the forest department had deployed trackers along the five km railway stretch between Baraftana junction and Pipavav railway station (both places are in Gujarat, India).
However, sources conformed to TOI that around 53 trackers were relieved by the department on March 31.
Forest officials, however, denied relieving them. “We have not relieved any tracker as they are casual laborers and we call them whenever we need them”, M.R. Gurjar, deputy conservator of forests, (social forestry), Amreli division, told TOI.
Interestingly, as soon as the news about the lion cubs’ death spread, all the trackers who were relieved were called to join work immediately.
“We were finding it difficult to handle the wild cats that come to the tracks. This required round the clock duty but surprisingly we were told not to come after March 31”, said a tracker, requesting anonymity.
There are around 60 to 70 lions along the costal parts of Rajula and Jafrabad Taluka (in Gujarat, India) of Amreli District.
Courtesy – Time of India