Saturday, September 22, 2012

In rains, Gir lions shift to ‘insect-safe’ zone

In rains, Gir lions shift to 'insect-safe' zone

Difficult as it might be to digest but the fact remains that the king of the jungle at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is often brought to his knees by lowly insects during the monsoon. Forest officials say that the nuisance value of insects and mosquitoes is such that it sends lions scurrying for cover in the rains.

According to forest officials, the sanctuary remains closed in the monsoons not just because it could disturb the mating lions, but also because most of them seek refuge from these pests by abandoning their usual low-lying habitat and shift to higher terrain.

"Even if one were to go into the sanctuary during the rains using the routes designated for tourists it would be very difficult to find a lion because most would have moved to higher ground to escape the flies and other insects," said a forest official.

The chief trouble mongers are lion flies and another small species known as fusil in the local language. "The lion flies are named so owing to their big size. They are big compared with an average fly and are blood sucking parasites. Their bite has the potency to cause severe itching for a long duration," said another forest official. Further, mosquitoes too pose a serious threat to the well-being of lions during the monsoon.

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