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Lions rescued from Gujarat's Gir doing fine after deadly virus attack

At least 36 lions, who were rescued from Gujarat's Gir Sanctuary are doing fine but will kept under observation for some more time, a senior official said. 

Lions rescued from Gujarat's Gir doing fine after deadly virus attack

At least 36 lions, who were rescued from Gujarat's Gir Sanctuary are doing fine but will kept under observation for some more time, a senior official said. 

The lions were rescued after a deadly virus called canine distemper virus (CDV) killed at least 17 out of 23 lions death that occured in mid-September. 

The official confirmed that the rescued lions have been kept in three different centres run by the state Forest Department and have been vaccinated to ensure they do not contract CDV. 

"The lions have been under observation of experts since September-end and are doing fine," Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh, Dushyant Vasavada said.

He said the felines were being administered booster doses of a vaccine at an interval of three weeks.

"The vaccine is to be given in a course and not as a single dose. Once we complete the course, we will ensure they are in a position to be relocated, and we will take a call after that. We are waiting for the completion of the vaccination process," he said.

The state government was caught off guard after 23 lions, an endangered species, were found dead in a single area of the Gir forest, the last abode of the lions in the country.

Laboratory tests had confirmed that 17 out of these lions had died due to CDV, which is highly contagious.

The Gujarat High Court had later directed the state government to ensure that no further death of lions is reported due to the virus.

The high court had also ordered the government to take steps to prevent lion deaths due to causes like electrocution, falling into wells, getting run over by trains or vehicles, among other reasons.

CDV is considered a dangerous virus and is blamed for wiping out about 30 per cent of the lion population in east African forests.

After the CDV spread was confirmed in Asiatic lions, the state government had urgently imported 300 shots of the vaccine against the virus from the US.

CDV is mainly found in wild dogs, jackals and wolves. The disease can be contracted by lions if they eat any animal infected by it.

CDV is a highly contagious disease that attacks the immune system and other vital organs in animals. In most of the cases, the infection is fatal. According to the last census conducted in 2015, the number of lions in the Gir sanctuary stood at 523.

(With PTI Inputs)