11 lions dead in past 11 days in Gir forest, state government orders inquiry

While Gir Forest officers have claimed that the lions died due to lung infection, the principal chief conservator of forest said that they died due to infighting.

11 lions dead in past 11 days in Gir forest, state government orders inquiry

JUNAGARH: At least eleven lions have died in Gir forest in the past 11 days prompting the state government to order an inquiry. 

The government ordered enquiry will be conducted by the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife). PCCF wildlife AK Saxena, who rushed to the Gir forest, said that most of the deaths are due to infighting and resultant injuries. "Most of the deaths are due to infighting and injuries caused thereby, mainly affecting cubs and females. This trend is being noticed over a period of three to four years. No foul play or suspicion is suspected," Saxena said.

However, veterinary forest officer of Gir Forest West Hitesh Vamja said most of the lions have died due to lung infection. "It was found that in some of them, the infection had also spread to other organs leading to death."

Vamja assured that the forest administration is making efforts to save the remaining tigers by providing them with proper medical care. "There is no need to worry as the forest department officials have taken necessary measures to prevent the spread of this air-borne disease to the remaining lions. We have vaccinated them to boost their immunity against the disease," he said.

Giving out more details about the deaths of lions, V.M. Chaudhri, Incharge, Assistant Conservator of Forests, said, "The authorities have collected the viscera samples of the dead lions and have sent them to the Junagadh Veterinary Hospital so that the bacteria and the virus which is affecting the lions can be known to us. We are taking all the necessary measures to save the remaining tigers."

The carcasses of the lions were found in Gir (east) division, mainly from Dalkhaniya range. A carcass of a lioness was found in a forest near Rajula of Amreli district Wednesday, while three more lions were found dead the same day in Dalkhaniya range area in the Gir forest. Carcasses of seven other lions were found in the last few days.

As per the 2015 census, Gir is home to 520 lions.

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