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Mumbai: SGNP lions stare at a bleak future after Shobha's death

Officials are worried about the lion population at the Borivli national park, as Shobha was the only mature female

Just days after 12-year-old lioness Shobha passed away on Monday, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) authorities are now in a quandary over how to increase the lion population in the park.

10-year-old Ravindra is one of the three surviving lions at the Borivli national park. Pics/Nimesh Dave
10-year-old Ravindra is one of the three surviving lions at the Borivli national park. Pics/Nimesh Dave

The lioness had succumbed to gynaecological problems and an infection. With Shobha’s death, the lion population in the park has now fallen to just three. While two a male and a female are her progenies, Ravindra is a 10-year-old male lion.

Shobha’s remains are being worked upon at taxidermist Dr Santosh Gaikwad’s workshop in the SGNP
Shobha’s remains are being worked upon at taxidermist Dr Santosh Gaikwad’s workshop in the SGNP

Speaking to mid-day, SGNP Director and Chief Conservator of Forest, Vikas Gupta, said, “Though Shobha was suffering from gynaecological problems for over a year, she had responded well to the treatment in the past. We were confident that she would do the same this time as well. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her illness on Monday night.”

No luck
For the last two years, the park authorities had been trying to mate Shobha with Ravindra in a bid to increase the lion population. But, most of the attempts failed due to Shobha’s deteriorating health.

A park official confessed, “SGNP needs a better veterinary doctor because every second day, one or the other animal is developing health complications. Shobha was suffering from gynaecological issues and the infection complicated her situation. After her death, we are now concerned about how to boost the lion population.”

He added that in the second week of October 2013, Shobha and Ravindra had tried to mate, but the attempt proved to be unsuccessful. The two lions then started fighting and injured each other seriously, following which they were kept in separate cages.

“In April 2014, authorities once again released Shobha and Ravindra together, so that they could mate. Unfortunately, the two animals would fight most of the time. In one such fight, Shobha severely injured her right flank, while Ravindra suffered injuries to his eye. Shobha’s daughter can’t mate with Ravindra because she is too young,” the official said.

Shobha’s last
Jespa, a male, and Gopa, a female, were born to Shobha on September 22, 2012, following her successful mating with Badshah. They were part of the litter comprising three cubs. But, one of the offspring succumbed to illness last year. Though Shobha and Badshah mated again in 2013, they bore no offspring. Badshah recently breathed his last at the age of 17.

Vet speak
Dr Sanjeev Pinjarkar, from SGNP, said, “Shobha was suffering from uterus and liver infections, which resulted in her death. This is what the preliminary report has revealed.

A team of doctors from the Bombay Veterinary College performed an autopsy on the lioness, and a detailed report is expected in a week’s time. This will help us know the exact cause of Shobha’s death.”

Guard Mauled
In April 2010, Shobha killed Harishchandra Gembal while he was opening the main gate of the lion safari, for the buses to enter the buffer zone. The guard had forgotten to lock the secondary gate before opening main one. Shobha entered the buffer zone, dragged Gembal into the nearby bushes and killed him.

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