After a video of illegal lion shows in a Gujarat resort went viral on social media, the forest department has arrested the owner of a resort at Bhalchhel village in Junagadh district.
The illegal lion shows were taking place on the premises of the resort and the owner, Mahendrasinh Solanki, was part of the organising committee and had even advertised the show on social media, reports The Times of India.
He had put up the clips of the lions on social media to advertise the shows. In the ads, Solanki had said that the tickets cost Rs 999 per person for the show and the tickets cost extra if the tourists want to walk among the lions. He had also created a website to post the advertisements.
Solanki came under the radar of the forest department when they saw the advertisements he posted on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The forest department officials filed a case against him under the Wildlife Protection Act and arrested him on Friday. They proceeded to seal the resort and the process was easier since the resort had not renewed their no-objection certificate.
Gujarat is popular for its lion population and is a tourist hotspot. However, the lion population has steadily been depleting. Reports state that 413 Asiatic lions have died in Gujarat over the past five years (2013-2018). The deaths have taken place in the Gir forest as well as other protected areas in the state, reports Indian Express.
The report states that 35 per cent of the deaths were due to "illness". It states 154 cubs, 132 female lions and 119 males passed away in the period between 2013 and 2018.
The data raises questions regarding the deaths of cubs and why the number was so high. However, the government brushed it aside stating that the mortality rate among them is usually this high.