By Taniya Dutta
This is the distressing moment a lioness and her three cubs who were spotted strolling on a highway, were terribly chased by a trucker in India.
The over one-minute-long video is doing the rounds of social media and is believed to have been recorded by a lorry driver and his friend on a highway in Amreli in Gujarat, a habitat of Asiatic lions, in western India.
The video shot on a mobile phone begins with a truck plying on a highway in the dark when suddenly they spot a pride of lions walking carelessly on the corner.
As soon as the truck approaches them and the headlight focuses on the family of the big cats, they start running away.
At one moment, the little ones get separated from their mother as they try to keep their pace running away from the heavy vehicle that follows them relentlessly, in the middle of the highway.
But soon the matriarch joins her shocked kids and guides them to the corner.
The truck driver is speaking in Hindi and is chasing lions while a person sitting next to him is capturing the video on his mobile phone. The truck might have come to Pipavav Port from outside the state.
The apathy of forest department has created outrage among animal lovers and lion protection groups.
“Forest department has hired trackers and deputed foresters in all lion habitats but they are careless in protecting the endangered animal,” wildlife activist Atabhai Wagh.
The higher officials of the forest department are investigating the matter.
A similar video of locals harassing the near-exticnt animal had gone viral in November last year when some bikers were recorded chasing a lion.
The forest department had assured inquiry after an outrage, but till date nobody has been booked.
The Asiatic lion census in 2015 revealed that there are only a few hundreds left in the wild.
They are slightly smaller than African lions and unlike African lions, the males do not tend to live with the females of their pride unless they are mating or have a large kill.
The subspecies used to range from Turkey, across Asia, to eastern India, but the rise of firearms across the world meant that they were hunted to near-extinction for sport.