Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gujarat to shift lions from Gir to Barda


Gujarat to shift lions from Gir to Barda

Times Of India

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government remained fierce about its turf, deciding to move Gir lions to Barda Dungar sanctuary in Porbandar. The state has come under fire over the shocking deaths of 23 of a 26-strong pride of lions, from the deadly CDV and babesiosis infection outbreak in Gir.

Ganpat Vasava, forest and environment minister, said: "We've decided to fast-track the shifting of lions to Barda Dungar. This will be their second home within the state."

Barda Dungar is a sprawl of about 343 km and located 80 km from Gir in Porbandar district. Barda along with Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh and two other sanctuaries were shortlisted as probable second homes for lions back in 1995. When Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to translocate the lions to Kuno Palpur in 2013, Gujrat worked at a feverish pitch to develop a second habitat to host the lions within Gujarat.

Even global expert on lion conservation Craig Packer and lion expert Ravi Chellam had questioned Gujarat government for dragging its feet on the lions' relocation. Gujarat has been prickly over the relocation of the lions after Supreme Court directed they be taken to MP's Kuno Palpur.

It may only be a matter of time before the state is mandated to part with its lions and move them to Kuno Palpur as directed by the apex court.

The death of five out of 23 Asiatic lions in Gujarat's Gir forest was caused by Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), the same virus which was responsible for deaths of 30% of total lion population in east Africa a few years back.

Tests carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Pune's National Institute of Virology (NIV) have confirmed the cause of the deaths and their scientists have recommended existing CDV vaccines which should work to prevent any more deaths due to the deadly virus.

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