24 August 2005

The Law of the Jungle...

No racial profiling here! However, dietary prefrences are a completely different matter...


Lions to Take on Indian Bandits

Lions to take on Indian bandits
By Sutapa Mukerjee
BBC News, Lucknow

Lions may soon be unleashed in the badlands of central India to restore law and order.

The government in Uttar Pradesh state has decided to set up a 371-acre lion safari park with five cats in the Chambal ravines to scare away its fabled sharp-shooting bandits.

There have been about 4,000 kidnappings and 180 murders in the bandit-infested area in the past five years.

Now the police feels setting up a lion park in the area is the only way to keep the bandits away.

It is the most absurd plan we have ever come across because the lions will be used for target practice by Chambal's not-so-nice residents
Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of India

"Not that the lions will be chasing the bandits, but the area will soon have a lot of movement by tourists and officials and will be lit up brightly. This will force the dacoits to flee to safer hideouts," says a senior police official Daljit Singh Chaudhary.

Uttar Pradesh's chief wildlife official Mohammed Hasan says they have already contacted Indian zoological parks for the first five Asiatic lions between four and five years of age to launch the park.

'Target practice'

The park will be fenced and the lions will be fed with 10 to 14 kg of buffalo meat once a day.

"Though there is good forest cover in the area, there are no animals which the lions can hunt for food,", says Mr Hasan.

Environmentalists say the scheme may backfire badly with the lions themselves becoming targets of the bandits.

"It is the most absurd, the most ridiculous plan we have ever come across because the lions will be used for target practice by Chambal's not-so-nice residents," Belinda Wright, founder of the privately-run Wildlife Protection Society of India told the AFP news agency.

"It will be a waste of money... It will never take off," she said.

"Forget chasing away dacoits. The dacoits will kill these cats," says Qamar Qureshi, a scientist with The Wildlife Institute of India.

Rough terrain

The police dismiss such concerns.

A previous attempt to establish such a sanctuary in Chandraprabha in eastern Uttar Pradesh initially appeared to succeed.

The lion population grew from three to 11 animals, but then the cats disappeared, presumably shot or poisoned by poachers.

The police say it is difficult to nab the bandits in a valley with unfriendly terrain.

"The landscape is so uneven and bushy that sometimes we find it difficult to even trace our own men," says Mr Chaudary.

At present there are two main gangs operating in the area after a number of them have surrendered or been killed.

The Chambal ravines have been a haven for bandits for centuries.

One of India's most famous outlaws - Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi - dominated the area in the 1980s before being jailed.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/08/24 12:25:39 GMT



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