A pride of lions crossing the Pipavav-Rajula highway in Gujarat
A pride of lions crossing the Pipavav-Rajula highway in GujaratTwitter/Hiren Upadhyay

Traffic on the Pipavav-Rajula highway in Gujarat came to a halt on Saturday evening, April 15, when a pride of lions took a few minutes to cross the highway. While a few motorists watched this rare sight with great awe, a few even filmed the lions crossing the road.

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The group which comprised a dozen lions and a few cubs remained stuck on one side of the busy highway where the traffic had halted for them. The lions remained stuck there as the traffic on the other side of the divider had not seen them on the poorly lit road.

The lions waited there for a while until the traffic on the other side of the highway came to a halt to let them pass. While one lion led the way to the other side, the others religiously followed him except one which ran back to the spot from where it had come.

While it was a cherished and rare enjoyable moment for the motorists, the issue is of concern.

According to local reports, a forest fire which broke in Junasavar village in Liliya taluka of Amreli in 2016 has forced many lions to shift from one spot to another. While moving from one part of the forest to another, the lions stand a high probability of getting run over, especially if they are alone. 

In 2016, a two-and-a half year-old Asiatic lion was killed after allegedly being run over by an unidentified vehicle near Pipavav port in Amreli district. The vehicle sped away after mowing down the lion.

Reportedly, many lions have moved out into unprotected parts of the Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir-Somnath, Rajkot and Junagadh districts. A report by International Union of Conservation of Nature has said that the lion population outside the protected area of Gir Sanctuary has increased by around 400% which has made the lions vulnerable to road accidents and even poaching.

Meanwhile a few people took to Twitter to talk about the world famous Gujarat lions.

Some even criticised the fact that lions having to cross a busy highway.