An Asian lion was run over by a freight train on Saturday evening in the village of Khadkala, near the town of Savarkundla, in Amreli district, in the Gir (east) wildlife division, forestry officials assigning the due to poor visibility due to rain.
According to forestry officials, the incident took place in the village of Khadkala, about 15 km east of the town of Savarkundla, which is part of the Savarkundla Range Income Zone of the Wildlife Division. from Gir (west), near the bank of the Khari River around 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
“The loco pilot noticed the lion on the track at the last moment because it was raining and visibility was poor. He braked, but before the train stopped he ran over the lion, ”Dushyant Vasavada, chief forest curator (CCF) of the Junagadh Wildlife Circle, told Indian Express. The Gir (West) Wildlife Division is part of the Junagadh Wildlife Circle.
“After being informed by the railway authorities, our agents rushed to the scene but the lion died instantly. After completing formalities, the train resumed its journey around 2 a.m. on Sunday, ”Vasavada said, adding that the lion was between five and six years old.
This is the second such incident on the busy Surendranagar-Pipavav railway this year. On February 16 this year, a male lion, aged five to nine, was injured after being struck by a freight train near Uchaiya village of Rajula taluka in Amreli district in Shetrunji wildlife division . While the Uchaiya incident took place in the fenced section of the track, the Khadkala section is not fenced.
The rail line connects the port of Pipavav, a major containerized cargo handling hub, in the Amreli district on the south coast of Suarashtra to the country’s rail network via Surendranagar. Dozens of lions settled in the Savarkundka, Lilia and Rajula talukas areas of Amreli district as their population in Gir Forest increased and the big cats began to disperse in search of new territories.
The Poonam Avalokan led by the Gujarat Forestry Department estimated the Asiatic lion population at 674 in Gir Forest and adjacent areas. Lions were spotted in Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts during the exercise. Among them, the largest number of lions, 233, were spotted in Amreli district alone.
Railway officials said the incident occurred despite speed restrictions on the stretch which signal frequent movements of lions. “A system has been in place for six to seven years where the rangers continue to monitor the movements of the lions. Our staff on the line as well as the conductors and guards of moving trains contact our control room if they detect a lion’s movement… a message is flashed in all the stations to keep watch and reduce the speed of the train. We are running the train at low speed overnight and this unfortunate incident has always happened, ”said Manoj Goyal, Bhavnagar Division Director of Railways (DRM).