A pride of Asiatic lions is believed to be responsible for three deaths in three months.

A pride of endangered Asiatic lions in India is believed to be responsible for three deaths in three months. Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

A 14-year-old boy sleeping next to his father in an orchard on their farm in India was dragged away in the night and mauled to death by one or more lions on Friday, prompting residents and politicians to demand the caging of a pride of Asiatic lions, The Express Tribune and The Indian Express reported.

It was the third fatality in three months in Dhari Taluka and officials believe the pride of 13 Asiatic lions living in the eastern part of Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujaret is responsible for each attack.

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A dozen cages were set up in the sanctuary, the last remaining natural habitat of endangered Asiatic lions, whose numbers have increased to 523. Forest officials caught 10 animals from the pride on Saturday; the other three were caged on Sunday.

J.A. Khan, Gujarat's chief conservator of forests, said the lions were captured from the protected forest in an effort to find the "man-eaters" responsible for the deaths. They are caged at an animal care center in Jasadhar.

"Lions that have preyed upon humans will be analyzed in detail, while the rest will be slowly introduced back into the wild," Khan told AFP via the Tribune.

"We will be doing a scat analysis, which includes testing the animals' feces for human tissues, chemical analysis of their blood and even genetic analysis."

If traces of the boy are found in scat of any of the pride members, those lions may remain in cages for a long time, forest officials said.

Jayraj and his father, Madhu Solanki, were sleeping in a mango orchard in the village of Ambardi near the forest when a lion from that pride dragged the boy away. Solanki was injured while trying to stop the attack, the BBC reported.

The boy's half-eaten body was found a third of a mile away.

"Their [the lions] behavior is not abnormal," Bhushan Pandya, a member of the state wildlife board, told The Indian Express. "If people take basic precautions like not sleeping in the open, such cases can be avoided."

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