Saturday, March 01, 2014

46 lions, 37 cubs died in two years

46 lions, 37 cubs died in two years
The Times of India

 In the last two years, 45 lions and 37 cubs died in Junagadh and Gir Somnath districts, all of natural causes. One lion had died an unnatural death in 2013. These deaths include the 16 lions that had died in the last six months in the East and West divisions of Gir.

This was stated by the state Government in written replies submitted in the assembly to questions asked by Congress MLAs Jawahar Chavda and Punja Vansh. The government, in reply to Chavda, said that in one year from January 2012, 10 cubs and 24 adult lions had died, while in 2013 there was a single case of unnatural death. Further, 27 cubs and 21 adults had died, all of natural causes.

The government reply said that there had been no incident of poaching or killing of any animal in the forests. Rescue teams had been formed to aid and treat wildlife, and staff had been trained to keep close watch on newborn cubs as infant mortality among cubs is very high, the state government stated in its reply.

In its reply to Punja Vansh's question, the government said eight lions had died in Gir East and one after falling into a well. Further, in Gir West, seven animals had died between September 1, 2013 and January 20, 2014.

A senior official said that the 37 cubs that had died were all below the age of three. He further said that studies had revealed that mortality was high among lion cubs. Citing a study, officials said that the survival rate of cubs in the Gir forest was 56 for every 100 live births. A study, 'Reproductive Strategy and Behaviour of Male Asiatic Lions', conducted by V Meena of Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, had indicated that survival rates of cubs was the lowest in the first year after birth.

Survival of cubs depends on factors like infanticide (which cause 60% of cub deaths), abandonment (13%) and other natural causes (26%). Early mortality of cubs due to infanticide was the chief factor limiting their survival.

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