An Asiatic Lion died after being run over by a double-decker goods train near Khadkala Village in Gir (East) forest division under Savarkundla forest range, Chief Conservator of Forests (Junagadh wildlife circle) Dushyant Vasavada said, the incident took place around 9.30 pm on Saturday.The carcass of a male lion, aged around 5-6 years, was found on a railway track, he said, adding that collision with the double-decker goods train was the possible cause of the death.
The carcass was sent for an autopsy by the Forest officials as they arrived at the scene of the accident, he added.
In 2019 and 2020, a total of 313 lions died in Gujarat, with 23 fatalities due to unnatural causes, state Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava told the state Assembly in March this year.
In July 2012, a lion dragged a man from the veranda of his house and killed him about 50–60 km from Gir Forest National Park. This was the second attack by a lion in this area, six months after a 25-year-old man was attacked and killed in Dhodadar.
The unnatural causes included dying after falling into an open well, getting run over by vehicles or trains, or electrocution, he had said. The government was making efforts to mitigate lion deaths due to unnatural causes, the minister had said. The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the forest spread across several Gujarat districts, is the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world.
The Asiatic lion currently exists as a single subpopulation, and is thus vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, such as an epidemic or large forest fire. There are indications of poaching incidents in recent years, as well as reports that organized poacher gangs have switched attention from local Bengal tigers to the Gujarat lions. There have also been a number of drowning incidents, after lions fell into wells. Nearly 25 lions in the vicinity of Gir Forest were found dead in October 2018. Four of them had died because of canine distemper virus, the same virus that had also killed several lions in the Serengeti in Africa.
(image credits: wikipedia)