Forest court authorities in India have sentenced three wild lions to life in captivity. Their crime was Eating a 14-year-old boy that they caught sleeping outside near a lion sanctuary in the Gir National Forest, located in the Gujarat state. Now, all three of big cats will live in cages until their death.
A total of six people have been killed by lions around the Gir Forest in the past six months, The New York Times
reports, and locals have been calling for action. So when forest authorities heard about the latest death, they rounded up 17 lions that they thought might have been involved. Bits of hair found in the lions’ fecal matter then helped them identify the male lion that led the attack. Two others both female ate what was left of the body. Forest officials say the remaining 14 lions are innocent, and they’ll be released soon.
Now that the three cats have been “sentenced,” the male lion will live in an enclosure at the Junagadh Zoo, whereas the two females will reside in a rescue centre, the Associated Press reports. It’s not clear what sort of conditions the lions will face in captivity or how much contact they’ll have with the people who work in their new homes.
Lion overcrowding at Gir National Forest has been a problem in the past. In 2013, the Indian Supreme Court ordered that the state relocate some of its lions because it worried that the population could be wiped out by a natural disaster or a disease. But the lions were never moved. Gujarat officials didn’t think other states in India would protect the animals, so they resisted the order. The Gir Forest is the largest refuge for wild Asiatic lions in the world.