Illegal night safaris are killing Gir lions

Lions flee into darkness when they see bright lights; many hit rocks and die of brain injury.

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If you are invited to a night safari in or around Gir sanctuary with the promise that you will get to see the Lion King in its natural habitat, you would do well to know that night safaris here are illegal. Moreover, your wish to have a glimpse of the Lion King running through the forest in the moonlight can actually drive it to its death.

Sources close to the development said that many of the lions which had died in Gir in the last four years, were found to have died of brain hemorrhage.

Though no convincing medical explanation has been offered for the strange phenomenon, animal conservationists say that when the lions see the bright lights of vehicles taking people on a night safari, they panic and flee into the forest's darkness.

"Many of these fleeing lions collide with trees or rocks, and it is this which caused a brain hemorrhage," a source said.

Sources allege that there have been several instances of cars chasing fleeing lions and thereby inadvertently causing their death. These lion deaths were later registered as deaths due to brain haemorrhage.

Bhaga Barad, MLA from Talala constituency, had even raised a question in the assembly in 2010 about cars pursuing lions in the Gir forest. Talking to DNA over the phone from Talala, Barad said that there was an incident in which a car had pursued a lion. The animal had jumped into a gorge and died, the MLA said.   

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