Society

Man-Eating Lions Sentenced To Life In Captivity

| by Michael Doherty
A lion in captivity.A lion in captivity.

Three lions that had been living in a nature sanctuary have been sentenced to life in captivity after investigators found evidence that they ate humans.

After three people were killed near a nature preserve in Gujarat, India, officials rounded up 17 lions and had their paw prints and feces tested, finding evidence that three of the lions had eaten humans, according to the Daily Mail.

Gujarat's chief conservator, A.P. Singh, said that human remains were found in the feces of a male lion suspected to have killed the humans, and two female lions that they believe ate what was left over.

The male was taken to a nearby zoo, while the two females will be kept at a rescue center. The other 14 lions will be released back into the Gir Forest Reserve.

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"The officials are also studying the animals' behavior," Ruchi Dave, a wildlife expert, told BBC after reports that six people had been attacked by lions near the reserve in 2016 alone. "Man-eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being."

Revtubha Raizada, another wildlife specialist, added that the human-eating lion would be held in the zoo for the rest of its life, because it was unsafe to release in back into the forest.

There are also concerns that the attacks may be due to an increased lion population in the Gir forest, which has led some lions to settle beyond the boundaries of the reserve. The Gir forest is the only habitat of the Asiatic lion.

A ruling from India's Supreme Court requires Gujarat to relocate some of its lions to other states in India to prevent the risk of a disease or natural disaster wiping out the Asiatic lion. Gujarat has not yet complied with the ruling, expressing some reluctance to relocate its lions.

Officials say that Gir has around 523 lions, almost double the reserve's capacity, according to The New York Times. The lack of space has caused some lion prides to wander in range of villages and laborers who have been sleeping outside in the summer heat.

"We are closely observing," Singh told the Times. "There is no shortage of prey in the forest. Why they became man-eaters is a concern for us as well."

Sources: Daily Mail, BBC, The New York Times / Photo credit: Regis Leroy/Flickr

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