Girl dies in crocodile attack in Gir forest

The girl, Hiral Vagh (15), daughter of Bhabhlu Vagh, a maldhari (cattle herder) and resident of Popatdi ness (settlement), was attacked by the reptile while she was washing dishes on the Machchhundri riverbank, officials said.

A 15-YEAR-OLD girl died in a crocodile attack in Babariya range of Gir (West) Wildlife Division in Gir Somnath district on Wednesday, forest officials said. Her body was fished out of the Machchhundri river, while efforts were on to rescue the reptile.

The girl, Hiral Vagh (15), daughter of Bhabhlu Vagh, a maldhari (cattle herder) and resident of Popatdi ness (settlement), was attacked by the reptile while she was washing dishes on the Machchhundri riverbank, officials said. “The reptile dragged the teenager deep in water. Her body was recovered hours later,” Dushyant Vasavada, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) of Junagadh Wildlife Circle told The Indian Express. Gir (West) is part of Junagadh Wildlife Circle.

Popatdi is one of the 46 settlements of maldharis inside the Gir forest. Maldharis are traditional forest dwellers who earn their living by breeding cattle. They have grazing rights inside Gir forest.

“Nesses have basic amenities, like water, etc, and the Popatdi ness, too, have them. However, as a part of their practice, the girl was washing utensils on the riverbank when she was attacked by a crocodile. A woman, who was present on the spot, raised an alarm but the girl could not be saved,” Dheeraj Mittal, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) of Gir (West) said.

Popatdi ness is located downstream the Machchhundri dam on the edge of the Gir forest and the river water is crocodile-infested, forest officers said. “Maldharis are aware of the presence of crocodiles in the river,” the DCF said. Mittal added efforts were on to rescue the crocodile suspected to have been involved in the incident. “It is a difficult task to identify the reptile. But we have placed cages with baits on the bank of the river stretch where the incident took place. After rescuing the reptile, we will release it in the water away from the human habitation,” he said.

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