Times of India: May 7, 2003
Brought in from Porbandar to Gir’s Devadia National Park, these two male lions clearly could not adapt to the new environment. The duo — captured from Porbandar’s coastal forest in February following villagers’ complaints — were found dead a couple of days ago.
Forest Department sources said shifting of territory proved fatal for the lions, who ‘‘could not adapt.’’ The two lions — aged around five and six — were found dead within 100 feet of each other atop a hill, which they refused to climb down in the last couple of days. It was on May 2 Forest officials last saw the lions.
Terming the incident as ‘‘unfortunate,’’ Conservator of Forests Bhatat Pathak said the lions had died a natural death.
Forest officials said the lions had not settled down as was apparent from their behaviour even a few days after they were released into their new habitat. A radio collar had been fitted on one of them to facilitate tracking. On April 24, worried officials captured the duo and put them under observation for 24 hours at Gola Bhuva Tirth area. Despite meat being placed before them during captivity here, the lions did not eat. A day later, they were released even as members of a special team continued to trail them.
The lions had been captured on February 15 from Maktupur village, some 20 km from Mangrol town in Junagadh district. They had reportedly killed several cattle and a horse in Porbandar district in one-and-a-half months after which villagers complained.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Sasan Gir) P P Raval said: ‘‘Once the lions also attacked trailing members of the Forest Department team. The inhabitants of a coastal forest, they rejected the new territory. They seemed directionless and had stopped hunting for prey as well as eating.
Forest officials tried to give them food near the water point at the foot of the hill, but in vain. The lions then stopped coming down, and were later found dead.’’
This is not the first time that the Forest Department had released a lion captured from the coastal belt in Gir.
Raval said, ‘‘Forest officials have captured dozens of wild animals, and released them in the forest, but such an incident has never happened before. Both lions were quite young and healthy.’’
‘‘We found them lying dead on the top of the hill on May 4. They may have died the previous day. The distance between the two dead lions was 100 feet. It was because of the radio collar that we could trace them,’’ Raval added.