New Delhi, India (AHN) – Five rare Asiatic lions were found electrocuted Friday at India’s Gir National Park in western Gujarat state, the Wildlife Protection Society of India reports.
The recent death of lions was caused by an electrified fence that was put up illegally by a farmer to protect crops near the sanctuary. A total of 32 rare lions have died at a national park this year.
Belinda Wright, the society’s executive director told the AFP, “The Asiatic lion is one of the most critically endangered species on this planet and this added twist of so many lions being killed by electrocution… is a catastrophe.”
“Preliminary information suggests that the three lionesses and two cubs were electrocuted by a crop protection fence put up by a farmer near Dhari, Amreli district, in an area adjoining Gir National Park,” she said in a statement.
Eight lions killed by poaching, six electrocuted, five fallen into wells, one hit by a vehicle and 12 others found dead, the society said.
Police had arrested the farmer responsible for recent death. If convicted in building an unauthorized fence that killed animals, the farmer faces seven years in prison.
Asiatic lions were once common in many parts of Asia, but only about 350 are known to remain, all in Gujarat state of India.
Their bones and claws are highly prized in India for use in traditional Chinese medicine and amulets respectively.
The 560-square-mile sanctuary is the world’s only natural habitat for the lions. The Society is currently working closely with the enforcement authorities to curb the killing of lions by professional poachers.