Eight Asiatic lions- 7 females and 1 male- which were rescued by the Gujarat forest department from Jetpur, were recently released in the wild.
The decision to release the wild cats was taken after the department drew flak for sending them to the Sakkarbaug zoo instead of rehabilitating them in the wild.
It may be mentioned here that the Central Zoo Authority had strictly directed the Gujarat forest department to release the big cats in the wild after it discovered that they were kept in captivity.
The news of the captive lions spread like wildfire among animal lovers and several individuals and organisations lambasted the Gujarat forest department and demanded their immediate release in the wild.
"The lions were captured as a precautionary measure ahead of the local body elections," Times of India reported quoting an unnamed senior forest official.
It may be mentioned here that the Asiatic lions are extremely endangered and they are a part of Schedule I species in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
For keeping Schedule I species in a zoo, a written order from a senior forest department official is mandatory.
However, in keeping these eight lions in captivity no such procedures were followed.
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