15/06/2016 3:01 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

India 'Arrests' 18 Lions In Bid To Find The 'Murderer' Who Will Get A Life Sentence

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The lion (Panthera leo) is a member of the family Felidae and one of four big cats in the genus Panthera. With exceptionally large males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia with a critically endangered remnant population in northwest India, having disappeared from North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene (about 10,000 years ago), the lion was the most widespread large land mammal beside humans. They were found in most of Africa, much of Eurasia from western Europe to India and, in the Americas, from the Yukon to Peru.

Police have taken 18 lions into custody for the murder of three people in Gujarat, reports the BBC.

According to the report, the 'suspects' will have their paw prints taken and their feces will be tested as forest officials in Gujarat try to figure which among those 18 lions is the 'murderer'.

"The officials are also studying the animals' behavior," wildlife expert Ruchi Dave told the BBC.

Once they find out who is the 'guilty' one, that particular lion will be kept in a zoo for life while the others will be released back into the Gir sanctuary.

Gujarat's top forest official, JA Khan, told BBC that the lions had been "arrested" over the past two months and were now being held in separate cages while tests were carried out.

"We think we have pinpointed the guilty lion, but we are still awaiting the results of nine more animals," he added.

There are approximately 400 Asiatic lions left in the wild, and they are the only lion population outside of Africa, notes The Washington Post.

Wildlife officials say that Gir National Park, where almost all these lions live, can only accommodate 270 of them, leading some prides to venture outside its boundaries.

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