Ahmedabad: A 30-year-old man was Saturday afternoon attacked by a lioness in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region in the fifth case of attacks by big cats on humans in the Gir forests, the sole abode of the Asiatic lions.

Deputy Conservator of Forests, Dhari, T Karuppasamy, told IANS that Chandru Vala had gone to a farm in Kodiya village in Ambreli district’s Khambha area to pluck lemons in the afternoon when he was attacked, according to villagers, by a lioness.

He has been admitted to the local civil hospital with several paw injuries on his back as well as his waist.

Three people were killed in three separate incidents in March, April and the current month in Amreli and a 70-year-old woman was lethally attacked in Kodinar taluka of Gir-Somnath district three days ago.

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Karuppasamy said that the forest department has recently caged and shifted 16 big cats (6 adult female, one adult male, 5 sub adult female and 4 sub adult male) of one pride in Dhari taluka following the killing of a 21-year-old man in Ambardi village on May 20.

On April 10, a lioness killed a 50-year-old woman in Bharad while she was sleeping in an orchard in the vicinity of the forests with his family members. Prior to that on March 19, a 62-year-old man was also mauled to death by a lion in a similar manner when he was camping in Ambariya village of the district.

In all the four cases, the beasts ate up the flesh of the deceased giving rise to the suspicion of some of the lions or lioness turning man-eaters. Karuppasamy says it is premature to believe so till detailed examinations on the lions. These are in process, he added.

Meanwhile, former minister and BJP leader Dileep Sanghani has urged the state government to provide arms to farmers residing on the periphery of the Gir lion sanctuary and allow them to kill lions and leopards in self defence.

In a letter to state’s forest minister, Sanghani noted that attacks on humans by wild animals like lions and leopards in revenue and privately owned areas near the sanctuary have increased recently.

Earlier BJP legislator and Patidar agitation leader Nalin Kotadia had, at a public meeting against a proposed eco-sensitive zone in villages around Gir forest, advised villagers to kill lions. Kotadia was criticized widely for this statement and his effigies were burnt by BJP leaders in rural Saurashtra.

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