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There's nothing quite like mother's love. More so in the lion kingdom where child rearing is almost exclusively a mother's domain. Male lions often kill cubs sired by the previous leader when they take over a pride. Even when their own male cubs grow up, they get kicked out. In such a scenario, a lion from Bedhia village of Gir-Somnath district is rewriting parenting rules in the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world.

The lion christened as 'Bedhia Nar' has single-handedly raised three cubs. The cubs were barely three months old when their mother got electrocuted while entering a farm. The pride did not have any other lioness, and Bedhia Nar took over the job. The cubs are now aged two.

"We never expected the lion to be so responsible for its cubs," says Jalpan Rupapara who, along with fellow naturalist Purvesh Kacha, have been documenting the lion's activities with 26 CCTV night vision cameras with permission from the forest department. "Generally, lions do not actively participate in child rearing. In fact, a lioness generally keeps cubs away from the lion as they are known to attack their litter if they suspect the cubs' paternity," adds Rupapara, a radiologist by profession.

Papa lions are also known to be lazy, spending most of their day lying in the shade, waiting for one of their wives to bring home dinner. But Bedhia Nar not only hunted and fed the cubs, but also taught them to hunt and hid them when he was away.

Kacha, an anesthetist, says the lion avoided mating for two years and never allowed another 'step-mother' to come near his cubs. Kacha and Rupapara plan to submit a detailed research paper on the lion's exceptional parenting behaviour.


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