New Delhi : The Supreme Court Monday issued notices to the central and Gujarat governments on a plea for a probe into the recent spate of killings of lions by poachers in the Gir sanctuary, the only home of Asiatic lions.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran issued notices on the petition by advocate `Elephant’ G. Rajendran, who alleged that poachers are indiscriminately killing lions in collusion with forest officials.
Pleading for a prompt intervention by the apex court “to save the king of the jungle from getting extinct”, Rajendran told the court that in many countries it was believed that bones, teeth, nails and jaws of lions, like those of tigers, have medicinal properties.
Such organs command a hefty price in the international market and poachers resort to killing the lions in collusion with forest officials for money, he held.
The petitioner said the total of lions in the Gir sanctuary was recorded at 359 seven years ago, but the number has gone down to 350 despite several births in the intervening period, as the poachers have been indiscriminately killing the beasts.
He also pointed out the lack of several basic facilities in the sanctuary spread over 1,300 square km, including drinking water spots.
He said there were over 300 wells without enclosure in the sanctuary and lions have often fallen to their death in these wells in search of water.
The petitioner sought that either the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the state’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) investigate the poaching of lions in the Gir.