Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Virus attack in Asiatic lions a hoax: Study

Virus attack in Asiatic lions a hoax: Study
The Economic Times

The result of examination of the presence of Canine Distemper Virus (CDR) or Pestes Des Petitis Ruminants Virus (PPVR) in Asiatic lion has brought in relief for forest officials. The results have revealed that there is no presence of CDV and PPVR in Asiatic lions.

The study was taken up following an alarm raised by Dr Richard Kock of Britain's Royal Veterinary College, who was quoted as saying, "The lions in India are a small vulnerable population and widespread infection with such a virus can kill at least 40 per cent of Gir lions.

The report, which was forwarded by Gujarat State Bio-Technology Mission (GSBTM) after examination of nearly 10 per cent of the total population, has made it clear that during examination the mission did not find presence of CDR or PPVR virus or carriers in Asiatic lions.

Confirming the report, chief wildlife warden C N Pandey said, "We have received the report and the examination has revealed that there is no immediate threat to lions."

Senior officials from the department said Dr Kock had stated that he had plans to visit India in September to conduct tests with the help of Wildlife Institute of India ( WII). However, he is yet to seek any permission from the department for conducting the test.

The bogey of a deadly virus that wiped out a significant number of wild lions in African Serengeti in mid-1990s was raised again in May this year, ostensibly to support the proposal of transfer of Asiatic lions from its only home in Gujarat to a new hostile habitat in Madhya Pradesh.

TOI has found that the study, which was completed in 2012, was based on a sample taken from a lion carcass in 2006.

Senior officials said that in this connection, Gujarat forest department, with intension of scientific conclusion regarding the presence or absence of CDV and PPRV as well as to help management and conservation of Asiatic lions in Gujarat, entrusted the job of screening the Asiatic lions for these viruses to Gujarat State Bio-Technology Mission (GSBTM) working under the department of science and technology, Government of Gujarat.

The animal tissue samples were collected as opportunistic collection from lions. Therefore, the sampling was quite random. The tests were conducted on animals that were brought for treatment after rescue from different part of Gir forest and nearby areas and hence, the area of survey was not limited to one area, but was scattered in almost all areas of Gir and nearby areas.

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