An orphaned lion cub asked for help in the only way he knew how.
On his rounds in the Tulsi-Shyam part of the animal preserve, a Gir Forest National Park guard named Rana Mori spotted a solitary cub hiding in the bushes. Wary of the danger, Mori began to look for the mother.
But, as he approached, the male cub began to do something strange, something lion experts say is rare and very peculiar.
“As I got closer to the cub, it started moving away and kept looking back to check if I was following him. After 30-odd meters, I spotted the carcass.”
Mori examined the corpse and then left the sanctuary to get help. When he returned, bringing rangers and police officials, the cub was still there, guarding his mother’s body.
11 years old, the dead lioness was found on a hill less than 600 meters from Kothariya village, on the border of Sasan-Gir. Local villagers, familiar with the big cat, called her Rupa (the beautiful one), and she was known to be a loner.
A postmortem report indicates that she had multiple rib fractures and died of intestinal hemorrhaging. It is believed that she was gored by buffalo.
Her death is unusual in that Asiatic lions usually die from natural causes or as a result of battling other lions.
H.S. Singh, a member of the National Board of Wildlife and a expert on lions, explained to The Times of India:
“It is very rare to see the predator being killed by a herd of resilient herbivorous animals.”
Gir Forest National Park is located within Gujarat state and is home to 411 Asiatic lions.
Sunday was World Lion Day and Gir Forest National Park celebrated with awareness programs on the conservation of the Asiatic lion.
Critically endangered and considered to be one of the rarest animals in the world, Asiatic lions are closely monitored in zoos and wildlife refuge parks. It’s believed that only a dozen are left in the wild.
Lion expert Yadvendra Dev Jhala of the Wildlife Institute of India said in an interview with the BBC that there is little conflict between lions and humans in Gir and that the lions recognize their guards. The cub’s behavior shows that he knew Mori would help him.
Lions are social animals; while they do not behave like domesticated cats, they do interact with the humans who enter their territory. Their cubs are typically dependent for the first three years of life. Rupa’s cub, only 15 months old, is now under constant observation, to ensure his safety.
It wouldn’t be the first time a lion has done something outside the range of what we consider normal predator behavior. Previously, the Inquisitr has reported on lions that treated antelopes and monkeys like family, even going so far as to adopt the orphaned offspring of its prey. It rarely ends well; cats of all sizes are known for playing with their food and may act tender with a baby antelope for days or even weeks before the lamb is killed and eaten.
Deputy Conservator of Forests in Gir, Anshuman Sharma, expressed that, with the death of Rupa, the cub’s circumstances will change.
“We expect the cub to join another group, or another lioness may start looking after it.”
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