Jungle raj in Gir: 18 lions in custody for murder, culprit to be imprisoned in zoo

While poachers and hunters roam free, setting up traps and killing endangered animals, in a bizarre turn of events, forest officials in Gujarat have rounded up 18 Asiatic lions and taken them into custody, at the Gir National Forest.

 Jungle raj in Gir: 18 lions in custody for murder, culprit to be imprisoned in zoo

A lion in the Gir forest. Reuters

Suspected of killing three persons in Gujarat, the forest officials will test the faeces and the paw prints of the "convicted" lions to zero in on the culprit.

"The officials are also studying the animals' behaviour. Man-eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being," wildlife expert Ruchi Dave told the BBC.

The culprit once found guilty, will then be sentenced to life imprisonment in a zoo and the innocent lions will be returned to the Gir National forest.

While the plausible motives behind the killing remain unclear, some experts feel that the thriving lion population in Gir forest could be the reason behind the 'crime', as reported by BBC.

Govind Patel, the former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat, told the Indian Express that Gir can accommodate only 270 lions, forcing some prides to settle outside the boundaries of the sanctuary, leading to instances of confrontation between humans and the lions.

The Asiatic Lion's status as endangered species and the ever increasing human encroachment on its natural habitat, though strong arguments, would fail to save the lions from the confines of the zoo, as the officials seem more than determined to not let the lions get away with murder.

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Updated Date: Jun 15, 2016 17:40:24 IST