Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Forest Department has initiated an inquiry into an alleged incident of cruelty to a sick and helpless lioness by an unidentified man in Gir forest in the state, which is home to more than 400 Asiatic lions.
A video clip which went viral through WhatsApp and other social media platforms a few days ago had raised the eyebrows of many animal lovers.
In this three-minute clip, a young man with a stick in his hand is shown getting close to a sleeping lioness in forest, which appears to be the Gir forest.
The clip showed the man first trying to wake up the lioness by prodding her with the stick.
However, after the lioness didn't respond, he pulled her tail several times, which angered the lioness.
It appeared that the lioness was sick, since she failed to even stand up on her feet despite repeated provocations by the man.
Since the clip was labelled as cruelty to wild animals in social media, the Gujarat state forest department took cognisance of the matter and initiated an inquiry.
It has been claimed that the clip was shot in the Gir forest near Dhari range of Amreli district, though a primary investigation seems to suggest that the man in the video clip was actually helping forest officials identify such sick animals in deep pockets of the forest.
"We learned that the person shown in the clip is a local living in Gir forest. If you look carefully, he actually took forest officials to that lioness suffering from disease. To find out what has happened to her, he lifted her tail and prodded her with a stick," Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF-Wildlife) R L Meena said, refuting the 'cruelty' angle as claimed on social media platforms.
Since it has been claimed that the clip was shot in the Dhari range in the eastern part of Gir forest, the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF-East Gir) Anshuman Sharma has begun an inquiry to find out the truth.
"There are many locals in the forest who help forest officials. It seems that the video was shot an year back. To find out the truth behind allegations of cruelty, we have begun an inquiry. By tomorrow, the picture will be clear," Sharma said.