Bikers chase, harass lions in sanctuary; clue in video leads to arrests

Two pairs of men on motorcycles videotaped themselves chasing and harassing Asiatic lions in Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat, India, and now they're in hot water after posting footage of the encounter online.

The incident occurred six months ago in the sanctuary that is home to about 400 lions, but the video only came to light and went viral Wednesday, leading forest department officials to contact police, according to Ahmedabad Mirror and NDTV in India.

The video clearly shows the lions—a male and female, and their cubs—running in fear from the noisy motorcycles. Caters News reported that one man in the video is heard asking the other to chase the lion cub, but at the end, the biker in yellow shorts is heard trying to restrain the others and asking them to stop.

Fortunately, it didn't take law enforcement officers long to find the hooligans since a license plate number is clearly visible in the video.

With help from the Regional Transport Office, the license plate was traced to the motorcycle’s owner, Padshala Ankur, in Rajkot. Ankur was arrested and interrogated, leading to the arrest of the three others—Jayesh Patat, Ajay Vala and Vala Bhimji, all of Babara in the Amreli district.

"There are chances that the lions were mating when the incident took place," Chief Conservator of Forest Anirudh Pratap Singh told the Ahmedabad Mirror. "There are chances that either of the adult lions can now attack human beings.

"Police has arrested the accused and further investigation is on. Strict action will be taken in the matter."

A provision in the Forest Act 1927 calls for six years imprisonment for chasing or harassing endangered species.

Asiatic lions used to roam most of Asia but now the Gir sanctuary is their only natural habitat.

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