Ahmedabad: Ram, the oldest surviving lion in the tourism zone of Gir sanctuary, died of old age. The animal was 16 years old. Ram, along with his brother Shyam, had been staying in the tourism zone since 2009. The two had been categorized as the most photographed lions by tourists.
Usually, a lion loses lordship of a territory – it usually happens in about three years – but Ram and Shyam could not be dislodged for nearly seven years. Several attempts were made by rivals to drive away the two but all such efforts failed. Of late, two brothers, Raviraj and Kaviraj, who had come to the area from the Devaliya side, had partially taken over the territory.
Chief conservator of forests, AP Singh, said that after Ram’s death, the forest department had put the area under surveillance.
“Beat guards are continuously monitoring the area as there are seven to eight cubs in the territory ruled by Ram and Shyam,” he said.
“A complete territory takeover is taking place now and, hence, there is a threat that the newborn cubs may be eaten up by Raviraj and Kaviraj. Hence we are keeping a close eye on the area to save the cubs,” Singh said. He further confirmed that Ram was the oldest wild lion in Gir and was around 16 years old.
Ram, which was considered smarter than Shyam, got its name only because his brother, who had a black mane, was called as Shyam. Ram and Shyam were not only known for holding the territory for nearly seven years but were also known for their smartness in guarding their territory. According to officials, Ram and Shyam used to move in opposite directions so that no intruder could easily capture the territory.
“Usually, in Gir, two lions move together leaving the other side exposed for any nomadic or any other group of lions to establish their suzerainty,” he said.
” But this was not easy for rivals of Ram and Shyam. It was noted that Ram had a visible distinguished mark on his forehead which helped the officials to easily identify him,” said Singh. Forest officials even described him as beautiful and flamboyant. Ram was their most photographed lion.
Sandeep Kumar, former deputy conservator of forests, Gir headquarters, said Ram, along with his brother Shyam, ruled over Gir for many years.
“The two had fathered many cubs. At one point, the duo had about two dozen cubs in their pride,” Kumar said.