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Monday, July 2, 2007

Indian Lions

About a week ago I saw an article in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL about the Gir Forest part of India. This is the only part of the world where the rare Asiatic lion still survives. About 350 lions live in this small part of India's Gujarat state.

The problem is that the farmers have become more prosperous and numerous. As India's economy keeps expanding, the benefits of development such as state supplied electricity have trickled into this remote corner. As a result an agricultural revolution is underway in the villages. Traditionally, villagers have relied on the monsoon rains for their crops, however, now those who can afford it dig wells on their properties and irrigate their crops with an electric pump. Most of the farmers can only afford to dig the well and install the pump. They cannot afford to build a wall around the well.

At night the lions chase their prey - wild boars, deer and blue boars - and fall into the well, sometimes they just get curious and fall down.

What struck me most about this article was one quote from Bharat Patak, the top forestry official in charge of the Gir forest. He said, "Livestock is also falling, human beings are also falling into open wells, but the lion is more important."

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