From royal festivals to tourism titbits: do Gir lions become scavengers?

AHMEDABAD: A study (WII) has marked great concern over the decline in hunting skills in younger lions because puppies are increasingly fed with corpses thrown into tourist areas.

The problem was raised in the study entitled Spatially explicit density and its determinants for the Asian lion in the Gir forest, which has a density of 8.5 lions per area of ​​100 square kilometers in the western part of Gir's protected sanctuary. The study, published recently, was conducted by researchers & V Jhala, Keshav Gogoi, Kausik Banerjee and Ujjwal Kumar, who detected 67 lions in 368 sightings.

The researchers expressed surprise that, contrary to previous studies based on the lion's diet, which found that the big cat survived primarily on natural prey, it was discovered that the distribution of lions was biased. Instead of being near the base of natural prey of nature, including chital and sambar, a significant number of lions were found in the tourist area.

This was likely because lions in the tourist zone obtained guaranteed food through provisioning and natural prey probably did not regulate the movement or density of lions, the study said. He mentioned how Maldharis throws his cattle out of their homes to prevent the attack of lions and improve tourism. The bodies are also used by forest officials to attract lions in tourist areas.

“An easy prey is turning lions into scavengers instead of predators. The 250 square kilometer area of ​​the Gir national park is the only area where lions survive in ungulates. In the rest they survive with human subsidy, ”said Jhala. More alarmingly, the study found that many younger lions had compromised hunting skills. In many proud who were provisioned, it was observed that the younger lions lacked the predatory skills necessary to hunt, since the cubs were fed with bodies thrown regularly and grew as scavengers, the study said.

Animals that lack hunting skills often conflict with humans, since after they disperse from the tourist area and are no longer provisioned, they try to kill cattle (easier prey) and can also become a danger for human lives, the study warned.