As a result of a rising numbers of deaths of the Gir lions, the Gujarat government has decided to shift the endangered animals to Barda Dungar sanctuary in Porbandar, reported The Times of India.
“We’ve decided to fast-track the shifting of lions to Barda Dungar. This will be their second home within the state", said Ganpat Vasava, forest and environment minister.
Barda Dungar is a sprawl of about 343 km and located 80 km from Gir in Porbandar.
On Saturday, 6 October, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting measures to tackle large-scale deaths of Asiatic lions in Gujarat's Gir forest and calling it an example of "ecological neglect" by the state government, reported PTI.
In his letter, the Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat said the death of Gir lions is a "manifestation of negligence" and "result of the state government's prolonged mismanagement and poor oversight."
Among the measures he suggested to save lions were to expand eco-sensitive zones to 10 kilometres from protected areas of Gir National Park, removal of illegal resorts, and better healthcare facilities for the big cats.
Patel also suggested creation of a Rs 1,000-crore fund for protection of Gujarat's lions on lines of Project Tiger, a centrally-sponsored umbrella scheme covering 18 tiger range states.
Two more lions had died on Tuesday, 2 October, in Gujarat’s Gir Sanctuary taking the death toll to 23 since 12 September, reported PTI.
“Two lions, rescued earlier, died today morning (2 October) due to infection.”Rajiv Kumar Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary of the Forest Department told PTI
Between 12-19 September, 11 lions died due to infighting and infections, whereas 10 more died between 20-30 September.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
With the latest deaths, the total death toll of lions has reached 23 in a span of mere 28 days.
According to the officials, all these lions lived in Sarasiya area of the Dalkhania range of Gir Sanctury.
The forest department on Monday said that four of the dead lions were found to have a virus infection, while another six were infected with a Protozoa-class organism carried by ticks.
WHAT ARE THE AUTHORITIES SAYING?
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani termed the deaths as "very unfortunate".
“It was a very unfortunate incident. 20-22 lions inhibiting in one forest range have died due to infection. To make sure that other lions are alright, we have called in doctors from Delhi and Pune to examine them.”Vijay Rupani, Gujarat Chief Minister told reporters in Porbandar on Tuesday.
"We are also probing whether the officers who have the responsibility of that range have shown carelessness," he said.
WHAT IS BEING DONE?
The 12 sick lions, which were caught and shifted to a rescue centre, have died since then.
A screening operation in the range was launched by the department in order to identify sick lions after the death of 11 lions between 11-19 September.
As per the officials, the virus found in the carcasses of these animals has not yet been identified.
(With inputs from PTI)