Amreli: Two lionesses were caged nearly 24 hours after one of them was suspected to have mauled to death a 5-year-old girl in Amreli district of Gujarat, a forest department official said on Saturday.
A female lion apparently attacked the girl around 9 pm on Thursday when she was sleeping inside a hut on a farm, where her parents work as agricultural labourers, at Halaria village, range forest officer Deepak Patel said.
The wild animal dragged the child for some distance, he said.
The Gir National Park in the region is the only abode of Asiatic lions in the world.
A search operation was launched after the remains of the body were recovered. Pug marks and other evidence suggested that the girl was killed by a lioness, he said. The forest department then set up cages in the vicinity to nab the big cat, the official said.
Two lionesses that are frequently seen together in the area were caged on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, he said. They were taken to the Sakkarbaug zoo in neighbouring Junagadh district for further examination.
“While the girl was killed by only one lioness, we caged both of them as a precaution and took them to the zoo for examination of their scat (faecal samples). The lioness that is suspected to have killed the girl is aged 4-6 years and was seen together with an older lioness in the area,” Patel said.
Of late, there have been many cases of human deaths caused by big cats like lions and leopards in Amreli district.
In May, lionesses killed a five-month-old boy, a three-year-old child and a 65-year-old woman in separate incidents in the district.
According to a census carried out by the state forest department in 2020, the population of Asiatic lions rose to 674, up from 523 in 2015, registering a 28.87 per cent rise.