Gujarat High Court Rebukes Railways Over Lion Deaths from Train Hits

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In a recent development, the Gujarat High Court chastised the Railways for its negligence in addressing the frequent deaths of Asiatic Lions in Gir wildlife sanctuary caused by train collisions.

Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee of the Gujarat High Court rejected the Railway’s claim that most lion fatalities occur while chasing prey, calling it mere speculation.

During the hearing on March 26, the bench expressed dismay over the Railways’ response to two lions being run over by a train in January. The court emphasized the importance of coordinated efforts between Railway and forest officials to protect the lions, the pride of the nation.

Highlighting the unique behavior of lions as the ‘king of the jungle,’ the Chief Justice underscored that lions do not engage in prolonged chases like leopards or tigers. The court warned against fabricating stories and urged concrete actions to prevent further fatalities.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the reduction in accidents, the bench emphasized the imperative of zero fatalities. The court criticized the defense presented by lawyers for officials, insisting on tangible plans to mitigate risks to lion populations.

The bench also noted concerns raised by the Amicus Curiae regarding the Railway’s plans to convert meter gauge lines into broad gauge near the Gir Sanctuary, potentially increasing train traffic and endangering lions. Additionally, the report emphasized the need to halt freight train movement during nighttime, as lions are nocturnal animals with sensitive eyesight.

As the fencing along railway tracks is often damaged or removed, allowing lions onto the tracks, urgent measures are required to safeguard these majestic animals.

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