A lioness, which strayed into a temple in rain-ravaged Amreli district and attacked two women devotees on Friday, was rescued and released into the jungle after a 15-hour-long operation by forest officials.
The incident took place when the women reached the temple to offer prayers, M.R. Gurjar, Deputy Conservator of forest, Amreli division, said. As soon as the women entered the temple, the lioness attacked them, the official said.
Mr. Gurjar said the lioness might have taken shelter inside the temple due to inundation and rising water levels in Shetrunji river nearby, owing to heavy and incessant rains. Many prides of lions are usually seen lazing on the banks of the river, he said.
According to him, the torrential rains lashing the area made it difficult to mobilise men and material for such an operation.
Roads leading to the temple were completely submerged after the district received 22 inches of rainfall, he said.
However, around 1.30 a.m. on Saturday, forest officials tranquilised it, ending the operation, Mr. Gurjar said. The caged lioness was later released into the jungle.
In another incident, a lioness was found dead on Saturday after it allegedly got stuck in muck at an agricultural field in Bhavadi village of Amreli.
The carcass was sent to a veterinary hospital at Dhari town for post-mortem, said Mr. Gurjar, adding that the animal might have been caught in flash floods which cut off this worst-hit district from rest of Gujarat for days.
Anshuman Sharma, another Deputy Conservator of Forests, said, “There are at least 50 lions who have made 25 villages on the banks of Shetrunji their permanent homes. The river was in spate since Tuesday night and has been flowing above the danger mark. It inundated all these villages on Friday. After the water recedes, the forest teams will be in a position to asses the damage in the sanctuary area of Gir forest, which is home to 511 Asiatic lions.”