By: ML Verma
Nahan (Aug 7): Once a home to 28 lions in 1986, the Renuka safari in Sirmaur district today has just a single giant cat, thus not even qualifying to be called a safari.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) Dr Sushil Kapta said that in-breeding or crossing-over within one-linage led to inherited weak immunity, which took a heavy toll on the ‘forest king’ as it decimated lion after lion between 1996 to 2000. The last casualty happened few days back when a lioness died after prolonged illness. Few lucky ones were shifted in 2005 to Gopalpur in Kangra district and Chhitbir in Punjab in April 2010 on the recommendation of Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
A lion pair was brought here from Junagarh for the first time in 1970, after which its strength increased to a maximum of 28. Though all captive breeding was suspended few years back, the damage had been already done and today the safari lurks at an uncertain future. In order to restore their number, now measures were being taken to import lions from different groups or clans. An official said a proposal to bring at least one lion couple to Renuka was sent to CZA recently.
“A letter was also written to Bennergatta Biological Park in Karnataka to provide one pair of lions for Renuka Safari. The Karnataka Park had two pairs of Asiatic lions available for adoption and one pair could be provided to Renuka Lion Safari,” Kapta said