Ahmedabad: Three lions from the Gir National Park in Gujarat have been handed 'life sentences'! Sounds strange but it's true.
A total of 18 lions from the Park had been 'taken into custody' after the big cats were blamed for three human deaths on the periphery of the sanctuary.
Now, an investigation by the forest department has found that three of the 18 lions 'taken into custody' were involved in the 'murders'.
All three of them - a lion and two lionesses - will now be spending the rest of their lives in captivity.
While the male lion has been sent to a zoo near Junagadh, the two lionesses will now live locked inside a forest department rescue centre.
The rest of the 15 lions will be released back into the wild.
The 'guilty' verdict was reached after an investigation of the paw-prints and faeces of the 18 lions over a 25-day period led to the discovery of human remains from the excreta of an adult lion and two lionesses.
“It brought us to the conclusion that the male lion attacked, killed and ate humans while two other sub-adults only ate some leftover body parts. These sub-adults were not involved in attacking and killing humans,” AP Singh, chief conservator of forest for Junagadh division, was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
Experts say it is important to keep the 'guilty' lions in captivity because once an animal tastes human flesh and blood, there is a likelihood of it preying on humans.
Among the three who were killed in April and May by the lions included a 14-year-old boy, a woman aged around 50 and a 61-year-old man.
The decrease in forest area has led to an increase in man-animal conflict in recent years and species on both sides lose life as part of the conflict.
It is estimated that there are some 400 Asiatic lions left in the wild and most of them live inside the Gir National Park. The Park, on the other hand, can only accommodate 270 which sometimes forces some of the big cats to venture outside and 'clash' with humans.