Three lions have been sentenced to life in captivity after they were found to have eaten humans in western India.
Officials rounded up seventeen lions last month in the Gir Forest sanctuary in Gujarat, India after three people living near the area were reported to have been killed in six separate attacks by the giant cats.
A.P. Singh, Gujarat’s chief conservator, said that human remains were found in the stool of one male and two female lions. Paw prints and excrement samples taken from the lions had been sent for analysis, which then identified the culprits. Apparently, the male had attacked and killed the victims while the females preyed on the leftovers.
The “guilty” offenders are now to be kept in captivity as punishment for the killings.
An official at a zoo near the reserve said that the male lion has been transferred to the zoo, and the female lions will be held at a rescue center. The other fourteen lions will be released back to the Gir Forest, which remains the only habitat for the Asiatic lion.
Some experts believe that the booming population of the lions in Gir is responsible for the sudden aggressive behavior of the animals towards humans. Govind Patel, former chief wildlife warden of Guajarat, told Indian Express that Gir could only accommodate 270 lions, which has forced some prides to settle outside the boundaries of the reserve.
In 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Gujarat should relocate some of its lions to other states, such as in the Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary, to prevent the spread of diseases and other disasters that might wipe out the lion population. Gujarat appealed the decision, which the courts turned down. However, the state has been reluctant to comply with the order, and has not yet transferred any of the lions.