By Bharat Lal
Having worked in the early 1990s in Junagadh, I heard and also witnessed a number of exemplary acts of ordinary individuals to conserve flora and fauna of Gir, Girnar, Mitiyala, coastal areas, and nearby grasslands i.e. Vidis along with Barda sanctuary what we call Greater Gir ecosystem – the last abode of Asiatic Lions. One such incidence took place yesterday when the whole world was celebrating world wildlife day.
In Rajula, Greater Gir, a lion cub got entrapped in a fisherman’s net. In the vicinity, the lioness (mother) accompanied by 2 other cubs, was agitated rather angry. This cub struggled for more than one and a half hours to get free but in vain. The net was getting more and more tightened around the neck.
Two field workers namely Mehul Dudia and Umesh Khetani working on a research project under Dr. Jalpa Rupaara heard the roar and reached there.
The threatening noise being made by the cub posed a huge danger as the lioness could also attack. The cub was also large enough to attack and bite them. However, they put their internalized duty what we call ‘dharma’ before themselves. Forest and Wildlife staff also reached there and they got into the rescue operation.
As a result, the cub was rescued from certain death. This video manifests the ethos of people living in and around Gir. They protect and treat lions like their own family. That’s how Asiatic Lions were saved from certain extinction and prospered in the Gir area.
Their courage, their devotion to conservation values, is worthy of celebration on world wildlife day. And they deserve our salute, our gratitude for protecting these animals for future generations.
(The author, an IFS officer, is serving as Additional Secretary in Union Jal Shakti Ministry)