Eighteen Asiatic lions are on trial in India, all suspects in the murder of three people in Gujarat. Police believe they can identify the culprit by testing their paw prints and faeces. That one “guilty animal” will be sentenced to life in a zoo, while the other lions will be released back into the wild, The Washington Post reported.
Officials are also studying the wild cats’ behaviour to check for sings of aggression. “Man-eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being,” wildlife expert Ruchi Dave told the BBC. Gujarat’s top forest official JA Khan said they believe they may have identified the guilty lion, but they are awaiting the results of nine others.
The Asiatic lion is an endangered species. Their population is on the decline, with humans encroaching their remaining habitat. Only about 400 of them remain in the wild. Wildlife officials in India said Gir National Park, where most of these lions live, can accommodate only 270 of them, which leads a few prides going beyond its boundaries. This, in turn, leads to man-animal conflicts.
The Supreme Court had ordered Gujarat to relocate some of these lions to other states, but the state has not yet moved them. Gujarat has sought 25 years to transport the animals to Madhya Pradhesh’s Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary.