'Arrested' in India for 3 Deaths: 18 of These Lions

Officials in Gujarat state are checking paw prints and feces for clues leading to the killer
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2016 4:27 PM CDT
In this June 9, 2013, photo, an endangered Asiatic lion rests at the Gir lion sanctuary in Gujarat state, India.   (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

(Newser) – Three people are dead from vicious attacks in India's Gujarat state, and police have detained 18 suspects: lions from an animal sanctuary, the BBC reports. The "arrested" lions have been gathered from the forests of Gir National Park over the past two months and are now being held in individual cages while their paw prints and excrement are examined and their behavior scrutinized to find the killer (or killers). "Man-eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being," a wildlife expert tells the BBC. And authorities think they're getting closer to closing the case. "We think we have pinpointed the guilty lion, but we are still awaiting the results of nine more animals," the state's lead forest official says.

All of the animals in question are male, and they're all Asiatic lions, an endangered species that counts just 400 total living in the wild in Gujarat, the Washington Post reports. The sanctuary at Gir National Park can only hold 270 of them, meaning some have wandered outside of the park. The country's Supreme Court has even ordered Gujarat to move some of the lions elsewhere—not only to help ease the park's crowding situation, but also to make sure the species isn't all in one place should disease or some other disaster strike. Gujarat state has yet to relocate the lions. Six people have recently been attacked near the sanctuary, and once the killer is determined, a life sentence is in order: He'll remain caged in a zoo, while the other 17 lions will be released back into the Gir wild. (A lion that wandered away from a Kenyan national park became agitated by car horns.)

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