One of the oldest lion from Gir National Park famously known as 'Maulana' for his friendly behavior with tourists died on November 17 at the age of 16. Maulana was also among the eight lions who had featured in the advertisement named 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki' with Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan.
Wildlife photographer and conservationist Bhushan Pandya who has been photo-documenting the Asiatic Lions in GIR said, "Maulana was one of the longest surviving lions of Gir because of his very 'friendly' behavior towards people. There are many memories that I have connected to Maulana and his brother 'Kamlesh' (or Pattavalo, as he was radio collared) as they both ruled a very vast territory for several years and they have fought grueling battles to protect many prides in their area."
Amitabh Bachchan with the photograph
According to the forest department officials from Gujrat , Maulana died a natural death due to his old age and from last two years he was living without his pride. He was undergoing the treatment at a forest department rescue center. Forest department also claim that another 16-year-old Lion named Ram had also died earlier this month.
Wildlife conservationist Bhushan Pandya said that he still remembers the strong bond between Maulana and his brother Kamlesh. "I have seen many lions over the years but the bonding between the two brothers Maulana and Kamlesh was really very strong. I still remember an incident that took place around four five years back when Kamlesh had a fight with some another lion during which his face suffered serious injuries. We were really tensed about Kamlesh as due to an injury on his face he was unable to clean the wound using his tongue which usually all animals do. To our surprise we saw Maulana helping Kamlesh in recovering from the injury which itself proves the bond between the two."
The forest department authorities and the wildlife conservationist and frequent visitors to the park including Pandya were worried about old age of Maulana, when Kamlesh passed away a couple of years back .
"After Kamlesh died two years bacak, we were worried thinking that Maulana will be pushed out of his territory by the young males but it was a pleasant surprise to see that new males, who had taken his territory, did allow him there for quite some time. Later, he changed his territory and was seen around Talala revenue area." said Pandya
It should be noted that the image of Maulana has been kept at the VIP lounge of Sinh Sadan Guest House which Amitabh Bachchan has autographed the photo.