The carcasses of three lion cubs were found on the outskirts of a village in Amreli district of Gujarat on Monday, near the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, PTI reported, quoting forest department officials. The cubs were between four and five months old.
A statement from the department said preliminary investigations had revealed that the cubs were killed by male lions during infighting between prides for dominance.
Locals alerted forest department staff after finding the carcass of a lion cub on the outskirts of Khadadhar village. “Upon reaching the spot, the forest staff found two more carcasses of lion cubs from a nearby area,” the forest department’s statement said according to PTI. “Forensic experts and veterinary doctors found deep wounds of canine teeth on their bodies. They also found pug marks of other lions in the area.”
The department said that the carcass of a nilgai, an antelope endemic to the Indian subcontinent, was also found in the area. The nilgai had been killed by lions, the department added. “These signs indicated that the cubs might have been killed by other male lions during an in-fight,” the statement said. The department said that a panel of doctors will conduct an autopsy on the carcasses.
The deaths come at a time when at least 23 lions have died at the sanctuary since September. According to a report by the Indian Council for Medical Research, Canine Distemper Virus was confirmed in five of them. On October 9, scientists at the National Institute of Virology said at least 21 lions in the Gir sanctuary have been infected with the canine distemper virus.