Gir forest, and other protected areas which are spread across South Saurashtra in Gujarat's Junagarh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, is the only natural home of Asiatic lions.
Seven more Asiatic lions rescued from Gir national park forest, near Gujarat’s Junagarh, have died due to a mystery illness. They were undergoing treatment for a deadly virus attack at a rescue centre. 21 lions have died so far in Dalkhania range’s Sarasiya in Gir forest since September 12, the state government said.
Talking to ANI, the Chief Conservator of Forest(Wildlife) Junagarh said, “No lions were found dead in any other area. We have rescued 31 lions from Samardi area and have kept them in isolation. All check-ups are being done, and we are taking all preventive measures.”
The development has raised concerned about the conservation of rare Asiatic lions in their last and only adobe.
Post-mortem tests have shown shown respiratory and liver as one reasons for their death. The also had injury marks probably cause due to infighting within and between prides, a release from the forest department said.
Talking to IE chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagarh wildlife circle, Dushyant Vasavada said, “Rescued lions from Sarasiya Vidi are kept under observation at the Jasadhar Rescue Centre in Gir (east) division. Their blood samples have been sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune and reports have confirmed viral infection among four lions.” He added that there are some doubts about the identity of the virus and laboratories are finding it out.
Tests conducted in Junagarh’s veterinary college have found traces of a protozoa which is caused by ticks in samples of six other lions from Sarasiya area.
IE reported Gyanendra Sinha, Principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) and head of forest force of Gujarat as saying that they have sent samples to IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute), Bareilly and Forensic Science Laboratory, Junagadh as well. We are calling experts from outside. We have called experts from Itawah Lion safari park in Uttar Pradesh and IVRI, Bareilly and Delhi Zoo also from ,” said Sinha.
Some experts have already reached Gir forest and are checking lions and reviewing reports and also studying the phenomenon. “As a precautionary measure, we are also importing vaccines from the United States,” Vasavada said.
Gir forest, and other protected areas which are spread across South Saurashtra in Gujarat’s Junagarh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, is the only natural home of Asiatic lions.