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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Virus spread leading to death of lions at Gir fully under control : Govt to Sc

29/10/2018                                                                                                          

Virus spread leading to death of lions at Gir fully under control : Govt to Sc

The Times Of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/virus-spread-leading-to-death-of-lions-at-gir-fully-under-control-govt-to-sc/articleshow/66418373.cms?

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that spread of canine distemper virus, which led to the death of several lions in Gujarat's Gir sanctuary recently, was now "fully under control".

A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta expressed concern over the deaths and questioned the "reluctance" in shifting lions from Gir to other places like Kuno wildlife sanctury in Madhya Pradesh.

"Several lions have died in Gir incident. Every forest has its limit. I do not know why there is reluctance in shifting lions to Kuno?" Justice Gupta observed.

The bench also observed that spread of such virus could led to wiping out of the entire breed if the lions would be placed at one place only.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the court that area under the Gir sanctuary have been increased and lions have been kept in pockets now to avoid any such incident.

During the hearing, the bench also took note of the recent incident in Odisha where seven elephants had died due to electrocution.

The bench was informed by an advocate that he would file an application regarding the Odisha incident matter which is pending before the apex court.

The Supreme Court also dealt with an application filed by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which has sought its direction stating that the top court's 2013 decision rendered in a wildlife case does not prevent authorities from taking steps in conformity with law to re-introduce cheetahs from Africa to suitable sites in India.

The counsel appearing for NTCA told the bench that they have taken consent from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an organisation working in the field of nature conservation, for re-location of cheetahs from Africa to India.

To this, the bench observed, "We have to be little cautious. We have had a problem in Gir. They are saying that it is under control now but the issue is why should such a problem has cropped up at all".

The bench asked both the Centre and NTCA to file their respective affidavits in the matter.

The apex court had earlier asked the Centre to look into the mysterious deaths of 23 lions in Gir amid fears that the wild cats could have died due to virus infection.


The Last Lions of India

24/10/2018                                                                                                          

The Last Lions of India

The Revelator

https://therevelator.org/last-lions-india/

When most people think of lions, they probably think of Africa. But another, lesser-known subspecies of lion actually lives in India, where they represent a major conservation victory — for now, at least.

Asiatic lions are a distant cousin of the much bigger African lions that diverged from the African continent over 100,000 years ago. They once roamed throughout the Middle East, including Mesopotamia, Syria, Iran, Palestine, Arabia and Balochistan, along with much of Northern India to the Bay of Bengal. Sadly hunting caused the lion's numbers and territory to shrink, until they were only found on the Indian subcontinent. After that, trigger-happy British colonialists and Indian maharajahs shot practically all of India's lions except for a handful in the Gir deciduous forests in Junagarh, a district in Gujarat in western India.

By the beginning of 20th century only an estimated 20 Asiatic lions remained in the wild. Their fate would have been sealed forever if not for the timely act of the nawab of Junagarh who offered immediate sanctuary — from a king to the king of the jungle — and the lions finally found a safe haven. The nawab was succeeded by his son, an even bigger animal lover, who in 1922 totally banned hunting of lions in Gir and declared the region as a protected area.

Over the next 100 years, as colonial rule gave way to an independent democratic country, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries started sprouting across India especially to save the national animal — the tiger. Gir became a government-protected reserve and, as the last bastion of Asiatic lions, has continued to play a vital role in the conservation of the species.

New Troubles

The last census of the cats' population in 2015 showed 356 Asiatic lions living in the Gir National park and another 167 in the unprotected forest and revenue areas of Gujarat state.

The lions owe their survival and recovery to the assiduous efforts of India's Forest Department, the state and central governments, and the local communities who have revered the lions as the true king of their last abode. It came as no surprise when, in 2015, the Asiatic lions became the first big carnivores to be downgraded from "critically endangered" to "endangered" on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. They're a rare conservation victory any nation would be proud of.

But is it all good news for Asiatic lions? Perhaps it seems that way when you look at their rising numbers, but it appears less so when you look at the bigger picture of a shrinking habitat. With more than 500 lions in the 8,494-square-mile park (22,000 sq. km), many experts feel there's just not enough room for their population to continue to grow. Meanwhile, keeping them all in one place also leaves the lions vulnerable to the ravages of a future natural or man-made disaster like fire or floods, which could spell doom for the whole species.

In fact one of those disasters may have now arrived, as at least 23 Asiatic lions have died in the past few months. About half of the deaths have been linked to an outbreak of canine distemper virus, an infectious disease that has also threatened other wild cat populations. In response, the Gujarat State Forest and Animal Husbandry departments have started a program to vaccinate local cattle and dogs, from which the disease probably spread to lions, but it's as-yet unknown how many lions remain at risk.

The People Problem

Meanwhile, there's another threat: With millions of tourists flocking to see the animals each year, the villagers living on the fringes of the forest have found a new way to earn quick bucks by showing off "their state's pride" to passing tourists.

In May this year seven people were arrested in Gujarat for planning an illegal lion show, where a somewhat tamed lioness was lured out of the forest with live chicken bait. The viral video — and many other such episodes of locals abusing wild lions through staged hunts and wild chases that surfaced one after the other — burst the bubble for the custodians of the forest, who had until then believed they were doing everything right to protect the lions.

The Gujarat state government immediately took stern steps. New rules include a ban on taking videos of the wild lions, which will now amount to hunting. Any individuals shooting a lion with a camera could get seven years of imprisonment and will be booked under section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Other initiatives suggested are radio collaring each of the wild cats to track them constantly and the enrollment of local guardians into a troop called SinhMitras (Friends of the Lion) who, accompanied by dogs, would roam the forests to keep a watch not on the lions but the tourists and ensure no one uses any illegal means to get a glimpse of the lions. The state is also intent on adding two additional safari parks and turning them into protected areas to reduce the tourism pressure on the current safaris.

The Missing Step

However, a step the Gujarat government is reluctant to take is to give away its pride — or at least to share the responsibility of conservation by extending the lion's territory to a neighboring state and thereby improving the lions' chances of survival in the face of unexpected disasters like the current disease outbreak.

Five years ago the Supreme Court of India, the nation's highest judicial body, issued an order to move some lions from Gir national park to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, but to this date no lion has been moved.

Gujarat claims that the translocation will happen only after 33 studies have been conducted in Madhya Pradesh under the IUCN guidelines. The Madhya Pradesh government, on the other hand, says it is ready for the lions, having expanded the size of the Kuno protected area from 133 square miles (344 square km) to 270 square miles (700 sq. km). They have also spent Rs. 90 crore (U.S. $13 million) for relocation of 24 villages in the core area, development of prey base and other infrastructure needs. Ravi Chellam, a member of an expert committee formed by the Environment Ministry, believes it is the complete unwillingness of the governments — both central and the states — to deal with the complexity and the urgency of the problem that is delaying the shift of the lions.

What is worrying is Gujarat's unflinching belief that it is the only state in India capable of protecting the cats; this could turn catastrophic. A recent study showed that of the 184 deaths recorded of lions in 2016 and 2017, 32 were due to unnatural causes like falling into open wells, being hit by trains or vehicles, electrocution and poisoning. The presence of six highways, a railway line and about 18,000 open wells only increase the danger of continued accidents. "At the moment, all our eggs are in one basket and that is a huge risk," warned Chellam.

Even the recent canine distemper outbreak has not swayed the government's position. This month Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani emphatically stated that the lions were "completely safe in the forest" and "will not be relocated."

The lions of Gujarat are admittedly doing relatively well overall despite the current threats, but Asiatic lions are still endangered and need a contingency plan that ensures they can roar beyond the boundaries of their lone territory. While at one time the resolute action of a nawab saved the lions by closing the boundaries of the state, what would do greater good today is to open dialogues, share expertise, encourage development of more secure habitats through translocations and give the kings of the jungle a chance to spread their kingdoms.

Reports on Gir lion deaths taken off medical site?

20/10/2018                                                                                                          

Reports on Gir lion deaths taken off medical site?

Mumbai Morror

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/news/india/reports-on-gir-lion-deaths-taken-off-medical-site/articleshow/66289765.cms

The haze surrounding the deaths of Asiatic lions in Gir sanctuary has become thicker with the disappearance of two important reports from the website of the Indian Council of Medical Research. The country's apex bio-medical research body had conducted tests on samples of 27 big cats, which showed 21of them positive for Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), a virus that wiped out 30 per cent of the total lion population in East Africa. The reports -- one detailing the tests and another confirming CDV -- both have been taken down from public domain.

ICMR officials claimed, "names of scientists were being corrected". Since this does not take time, the move raises questions about the lack of transparency regarding the death of lions at Gir.

After 23 lions died between September 12 and October 2, Gujarat government had sent samples of nasal, ocular and rectal swabs from 27 captive lions under observation at Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh to ICMR.

.ICMR established that the lions died of viral infection and posted the report on October 5. The report not only carried suggestions on how to save the lions by stopping the virus from spreading, it also advised placing the big cats in 2-3 separate sanctuaries to prevents its extinction.

Later, on October 9, ICMR issued another report based on 80 samples collected from the 27 lions. This report revealed that 21 of the lions were CDV-infected. This report was posted on the website, too. However, ICMR officials did not pass the critical information to the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife or the Gujarat forest department. Forest officials of Gir learnt about the report more than 24 hours after it was published, raising questions about the way the issue of lion deaths was being handled.

Interestingly, both reports have been removed from the website now.

Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, national director and head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, told Mirror, "The reports were not supposed to carry my name, so we removed it." Interestingly, other reports available on the website carry the name of the concerned scientists or department heads.

Environmentalist Rajan Joshi questioned the lack of transparency and said, "Why hide the reports? The government does not want to let the lions move elsewhere? The second report had also suggested that CDV is transmitted through air and bodily secretions so healthy lions could be shifted to an alternate location to save them. Also, it becomes easier to fudge the data."

Additional Chief Secretary (Forest and Environment) Rajiv Gupta was not reachable despite repeated attempts


Gir lion deaths: 36 lions under observation, time for release not decided

20/10/2018                                                                                                          

Gir lion deaths: 36 lions under observation, time for release not decided

The Indian Express

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gir-lion-deaths-36-lions-under-observation-time-for-release-not-decided-5410061/

WHILE THERE has been no report of any lion death due to disease in the last 20 days, 36 Asiatic lions that were rescued after a spate of deaths in Dalkhaniya range last month are still under observation. Forest officers said they have not decided on any timeframe to release them back into the wild.

Between September 12 and 29, 23 Asiatic lions died in Dalkhaniya range of Gir (east) forest division. All the big cats that died had settled in Sarasiya Vidi, a 25 sq km forest patch in Dalkhaniya range. While carcasses of seven lions were found in Sarasiya Vidi, four others that had been shifted to rescue centres died while undergoing treatment.

After the multiple deaths, the forest department launched an extensive drive to screen each lion in Gir forest and other protected areas from September 23. During the drive, which covered 3,000 sq km, a lioness in Sarasiya Vidi was found to be ill and died before she could be treated. Another lion cub that was shifted to a rescue centre also died

The forest department rescued the remaining 13 lions from Sarasiya Vidi and shifted them to Jasadhar Rescue Centre in Gir (east) forest division. As a precautionary measure, the department caged 31 lions from Semardi area and two from neighbouring Paniya range. The lions from Semardi were shifted to Jamwala Rescue Centre in Gir (west) forest division and those from Paniya were transferred to Babarkot Rescue Centre in Amreli social forestry division. However, 10 of the 13 lions rescued from Sarasiya Vidi died by September 29.

The remaining 36 lions have been under observation at the three facilities for almost three weeks now. After the National Institute of Virology, Pune announced that samples of some of the dead lions had tested positive for the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), veterinarians had given CDV vaccine to the lions under observation. The NIV later confirmed that samples of 21 out of 27 lions under observation had returned positive for the viral disease.

"They are all well," Dushyant Vasavada, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle, told The Indian Express on Friday when asked about the 36 lions under observation.

The forest department has imported 300 doses of CDV vaccine from the US and placed an order for 500 more doses. However, the CCF said they had not decided whether to give the two booster doses and when to release the carnivores back into their territories. "The first booster dose can be given only 21 days after the initial dose. The second booster can be given three weeks after the first booster dose," Vasavada said.

Ravi Chellam, a wildlife biologist, said that keeping wild lions in captivity for long periods is risky. "Since lions are territorial animals, they mark their territories on a daily basis by roaring and scent marking. If territories are not marked, other lions will recognise that the territory is vacant… Some other lions will take over the territory without any challenge… This will significantly reduce the chances of the captured lions surviving after being released." he said.

He also advocated eliminating potential sources of disease rather than rescuing lions and treating them in captivity. "The problem is our approach to dealing with wild animals as if they are semi-captive, rescuing them at will. We shouldn't treat wild animals in that way. What we should do is prevent poaching, lions falling into wells, being run over by trucks and trains," Chellam said, adding that regular disease monitoring and ring-vaccination of domestic animals is important.


What's stopping the Asiatic lions of Gir from getting a new home?

20/10/2018                                                                                                          

What's stopping the Asiatic lions of Gir from getting a new home?

The Economic Times

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/whats-stopping-the-asiatic-lions-of-gir-from-getting-a-new-home/articleshow/66296056.cms

The tiger is the big cat the country usually obsesses over. A National Tiger Conservation Authority is tasked with the protection of India's national animal. There are 50 tiger reserves and these enjoy a high level of protection. Of the Rs 555 crore the Centre set aside for wildlife habitat development in 2018-19, two-thirds were for tiger conservation. Naturally, therefore, the death of a tiger or a change in its population is widely reported.

But in the past month, another big cat has been all over the news, and for all the wrong reasons. Since September 12, 24 Asiatic lions have died in the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat, the only place in the world where the species is found now. (African lions are found in the sub-Saharan region.)

At least four of them were found to have had canine distemper virus (CDV), which affects a range of wild animals, and seven were discovered to have had a protozoan infection, transmitted by ticks. Infighting has also been cited as a cause of death, but it is not clear how many lions died due to this. Thirty-six lions are under observation, with three being treated for protozoan infection, according to Dushyant Vasavada, chief conservator of forests of the Junagadh wildlife circle, which includes Gir. Twenty one of the 27 lions tested, out of the 36, have also tested positive for CDV.

The deaths have again brought to the fore a 25-yearold demand of wildlife activists — move some of the lions to the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh — to avoid exactly the kind of deaths that are happening. An epidemic or natural calamity can wipe out a species if the population is concentrated in one area. Under such circumstances, translocating is a way to protect a species. But the efforts of the activists have not been successful due to reasons that are seemingly political.

In April 2013, the Supreme Court asked the Union government to translocate some lions to Kuno. It said, while hearing a petition, the Asiatic lions existed in a single sub-population and were vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, such as an epidemic, a large forest fire, etc. "An outbreak of possible epidemic or natural calamity might wipe off the entire species. A smaller population with limited genetic strength are more vulnerable to diseases and other catastrophes in comparison to large and widespread population," the court said. But the Gujarat government has citied one reason on the other and not moved any lions. A few days ago, Vijay Rupani, chief minister of Gujarat, said the lions were "completely safe" in Gir and would not be relocated.

The state's reluctance to move the lions, considered "Gujarat's pride", to the Madhya Pradesh sanctuary is purely political, says Bhikhu Batawala, a lion conservation activist. It has nothing to do with doubts about the act of translocation itself, which has been effective in most cases in India and other countries. "Some translocation projects are discussed a lot," says Ravi Chellam, a conservation biologist who has studied Gir's lions extensively. "But translocation happens almost on a daily basis as part of our wildlife management for a very wide range of species in India, which is not well known."

All Eggs In A Basket

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), translocation is the human-mediated movement of living organisms from one area to another. It is done to enhance or reduce populations of some species, to improve ecosystems, to reduce human-animal conflict or for recreational or commercial purposes. Translocation in the wild in most cases is referred to as reintroduction, as translocating a species to an area that is not a part of its indigenous range can have extreme adverse ecological, social or economic impacts. Done properly, it can help grow the population of a species. Translocation has seen great success in South Africa, says Matthew Hayward, associate professor at Australia's University of Newcastle. From 1979, several thousands of animals have been translocated successfully.

India accounts for only 2.4% of the world's land area, but has 7-8% of all recorded species. Of the 5,739 Indian animal species evaluated by the IUCN, 80 are critically endangered, 210 endangered and 401 vulnerable. The Asiatic lion was critically endangered till 2008, but has since been upgraded to the endangered category. Its population has nearly doubled from 327 in 2001 to around 600 in 2018 at Gir, spread across 1,400 sq km. This means twice the number of lions will have to make do with the same area, making them more prone to diseases and infighting. "It's like putting 600 eggs in one basket," says wildlife biologist Faiyaz A Khudsar, who filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court calling for the translocation from Gir.

Overcrowded sanctuaries also force lions to roam outside the protected area. In 2016 and 2017, for example, 32 of the 184 lion deaths were due to unnatural causes.

Diseases can also wipe out the lions. A 1,000 lions, or a third of the population in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, died of CDV in 1994. "Given that it is already an inbred population with much reduced genetic diversity, Asiatic lions have to be managed even more careful," says Chellam, who was on the expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court to help with the translocation.

A 1995 report coauthored by Chellam had identified three sites, including two in Rajasthan, for translocation from Gir. But it finally settled on Kuno. The Madhya Pradesh government then resettled more than 1,500 families in 24 villages outside Kuno to make space for the lions.

But Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was chief minister between 2001 and 2014, has continued objecting to the translocation. The state cited, among other reasons, the lack of an adequate prey base — the assemblage of animals in an area that a predator can consume — in Kuno and the presence of a few tigers there.

Experts have countered these claims. In fact, the prey density per sq km in Kuno is 80, compared with 56 in Gir. The biomass of the prey base in Kuno is 3,520 kg, a fourth higher than in Gir, according to a 2012 study presented to the Supreme Court.

India has had several successful reintroduction efforts for tigers, rhinos, swamp deer and ghariyals. The Panna Tiger Reserve in MP had lost all its tigers to poaching by 2008. Six tigers from Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench (all in MP) were reintroduced in Panna between 2009 and 2014. The tiger count in Panna has since reportedly risen to around 30. The Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan has 17 tigers now after the reintroduction of eight from Ranthambore, also in Rajasthan, between 2008 and 2012. The first inter-state tiger translocation, from MP to Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha, is underway. Reintroduction also helped the Manas National Park in Assam, which was badly affected in the Bodoland conflict from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Since 2006, 27 rhinos have been reintroduced from Kaziranga and Pobitora sanctuaries, among others, and in 2014-15, 36 eastern swamp deer were translocated from Kaziranga. HK Sarma, field director of Manas, says the park will also get 40 spotter deer from Chhattisgarh by 2020 in exchange five female wild buffaloes. Six orphaned elephant calves, raised at a rescue and rehab centre, were also translocated to Manas earlier this year. Several gharials, a critically endangered species, have also been reintroduced into the Ganges and Beas after being reared in captivity.

Conservation Tool

While translocation for purposes for conservation is recommended, the same cannot be said for mitigating animal attacks on humans. "Moving problem animals is a fairly ineffective solution to human-wildlife conflict," says Hayward.

Vidya Athreya, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society-India, concurs. Following attacks on people, 29 leopards in the human-dominated rural parts of Junnar in Pune district were moved to forests 40 km away. But attacks on humans near the release site went up, a research paper she coauthored revealed. She says it's harder to move adult wild animals than young ones. "They (adults) have site fidelity. They know where their resources are."

While translocation may not be the answer to reduce human-animal conflict, there is enough evidence that, done right, it is an effective conservation tool. Will Gujarat's pride prejudice the lions?


Repel disease attack, HC tells government

18/10/2018                                                                                                          

Repel disease attack, HC tells government

The Times Of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/repel-disease-attack-hc-tells-government/articleshow/66268228.cms

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Wednesday issued three-fold directions to the state government and forest department for conservation of lions in Gir in the wake of unnatural deaths reported due to various reasons including viral infection.

The steps taken by the state government to arrest the spread of the virus after the death of 23 lions in Dalkhaniya range were appreciated by the high court. The court expressed its satisfaction over the efforts by teams of 550 officials, for quick survey, vaccination etc.

"We direct the authorities to scrupulously follow the suggestions made by the experts and to take all possible steps without any loss of time to see that no such virus/bacterial infection is spread to any other sub-divisions and take all possible steps for their (lions') recovery," a bench of Chief Justice R S Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi directed.

The court has ordered continuous monitoring through special teams and to ensure that no virus is spread in other areas of Gir Sanctuary.

The HC said that the Asiatic lion is the pride of Gujarat and unnatural deaths of the big cats should be curbed by implementing a time-bound programme. It has ordered the government to report back on January 15, 2019 after implementing various directions issued on Wednesday.

The HC was concerned about lion deaths due to accidental falls in open wells. It directed the state authorities to cover the remaining 17,008 open wells by constructing parapets. The court also ordered the authorities to propagate its Rs 16,000 subsidy scheme and sensitize farmers to cover open wells. Concerned mamlatdars of three districts - Gir Somnath, Amreli and Junagadh - are to report periodically to resident collectors on progress.

The HC also directed stringent action against farmers who put up electric fences around their fields. The court was concerned about lion deaths due to electrocution. The amicus curiae in this case, advocate Hemang Shah, had suggested dealing with this problem. The court said, "Usage of electric fences, unauthorizedly, is required to be stopped with immediate effect."

The court has ordered all farmers be informed to remove electric fences, special flying squads be formed to make periodical inspection of fields and to take steps for removal of electric fences. The court has ordered registration of FIR against those farmers who refuse to remove electric fences.

The HC also directed the government to attend any other cause resulting in deaths of lions. The court is hearing the issue on basis of a suo motu PIL filed on a TOI report in March that 184 lions had died in last two years.


‘Barda Dungar within reach of outbreak’

15/10/2018                                                                                                          

'Barda Dungar within reach of outbreak'

The Times Of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/barda-dungar-within-reach-of-outbreak/articleshow/66209321.cms

AHMEDABAD: The state government feels that a new home for Asiatic lions outside Gir limits – Barda Dungar in Porbandar district – 80km from Gir may help save the last of the Asiatic lions in the world. But one of the world's leading lion conservation experts, Dr Craig Packer has cautioned that the Barda Dungar sanctuary will be "within reach of an active outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV)."

Packer was quick to recall the Serengeti (1994) and Ngorongoro Crater (2001) CDV-Babesia outbreaks among African lions in Tanzania. He said, "We had outbreaks in the Ngorongoro Crater (75km from our Serengeti study area) within a year or so of most Serengeti outbreaks. So the greater the distance, the better!" Packer told TOI.

Dr Packer was part of a team of scientists involved in mitigating the CDV outbreak in the African lion populations at the Serengeti sanctuary (1994) and the Ngorongoro Crater (2001) in Tanzania. In fact, it was Dr Packer's research that found that "high levels of Babesia infection (spread by ticks) were a necessary co-factor in causing extensive lion mortality, and this parasite was most abundant during drought years in Tanzania." A similar situation exists in Gir today.

In an interview to journal Bioscience, Dr Packer explained that the CDV-Babesia outbreak in Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater took place when a dry spell was over and rains fell causing Babesia-carrying ticks to flourish.

They infested Cape buffalo that were by then starved for food; the herbivores couldn't find enough vegetation during the drought. When the babesiosis-infected buffalo died, lions fed on their carcasses, leading to babesiosis in lions already exposed to CDV. "CDV or babesiosis alone aren't threats to lions," Packer added explaining that it was the combination of CDV with a high level of exposure to Babesia that killed more than 1,000 lions in 1994 and 2001 in Africa.

Packer also warned that while the Serengeti population returned to full numbers within only four years of the outbreak, the Ngorongoro lion population took longer to recover, probably because of its history of close inbreeding. "I would expect the Gir population to largely survive the current crisis, although its long history of close inbreeding may make it more vulnerable to the current epidemic," said Packer. 


Lioness rescued after falling into open well

15/10/2018                                                                                                          

Lioness rescued after falling into open well

Ahmedabad Mirror

https://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/lioness-rescued-after-falling-into-open-well/articleshow/66208282.cms

A lioness on Sunday suffered minor injuries after it fell into an open well in Gujarat's Gir forest, a senior official said.

The incident comes just a few days after the Gujarat government told the High Court that it was making efforts to cover open wells in the Gir forest to prevent animals from falling in.

Sunday's incident happened in Amreli district's Devla village which is part of the Dhari range of Gir (east) forest, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Dushyan Vasavada said.

"Our team reached the spot and rescued the lioness after it fell into an open well. She has been shifted to our rescue centre and is being treated for minor injuries," Vasavada informed.

On the issue of building parapet walls on open wells in Gir forest for the safety of lions, the state government earlier this month told Gujarat High Court that out of a total of 50,517 open wells, 17,008 remain to be enclosed.

In an affidavit filed on the issue, it told HC that a subsidy assistance of Rs 16,000 per well would be provided.

The state has witnessed the deaths of 23 lions in the Gir forest within a span of three weeks in September.

The Gujarat government had told HC that as per the postmortem report, 17 of these 23 lions died from bacterial and viral infection leading to respiratory and hepatic failure. Three others died due to infighting and cause of death of the remaining three could not be ascertained, the government's affidavit stated. PTI 


Guj: Lioness rescued after falling into open well in Gir

14/10/2018                                                                                                          

Guj: Lioness rescued after falling into open well in Gir

Business Standard

https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/guj-lioness-rescued-after-falling-into-open-well-in-gir-118101400557_1.html

A lioness Sunday suffered minor injuries after it fell into an open well in Gujarat's Gir forest, a senior official said.

The incident comes just a few days after the Gujarat government told the High Court that it was making efforts to cover open wells in the Gir forest to prevent animals from falling in.

Sunday's incident happened in Amreli district's Devla village which is part of the Dhari range of Gir (east) forest, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Dushyan Vasavada said.

"Our team reached the spot and rescued the lioness after it fell into an open well. She has been shifted to our rescue centre and is being treated for minor injuries," Vasavada informed.

On the issue of building parapet walls on open wells in Gir forest for the safety of lions, the state government earlier this month told Gujarat High Court that out of a total of 50,517 open wells, 17,008 remain to be enclosed.

In an affidavit filed on the issue, it told HC that a subsidy assistance of Rs 16,000 per well would be provided.

The state has witnessed the deaths of 23 lions in the Gir forest within a span of three weeks in September.

The Gujarat government had told HC that as per the postmortem report, 17 of these 23 lions died from bacterial and viral infection leading to respiratory and hepatic failure.

Three others died due to infighting and cause of death of the remaining three could not be ascertained, the government's affidavit stated.

Gujarat: Lioness falls in open well near Gir forest range, rescued

14/10/2018                                                                                                          

Gujarat: Lioness falls in open well near Gir forest range, rescued

The Indian Express

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-lioness-falls-in-open-well-near-gir-forest-range-rescued-5401711/

An Asiatic lion fell down in an open well of Devla village in Dalkhaniya range of Gir (east) forest in Amreli district Sunday. However, the animal was rescued by the forest department and released in the wild again hours later.

Residents of Devla, a village around 15 km away from Dhari village, the headquarters of Dhari taluka in Amreli district, alerted forest department early on Sunday that a lion had fallen down in an open well belonging to Devla village panchayat. "We received the message at around 7:30 am that an animal had fallen down in the well. Our staff managed to rescue the animal after a one-and-a-half-hour-long operation. It was a lioness around three to four year of age. It had not sustained any major injury," a forest officer of Gir (east) forest division said.

Devla village is located around six kilometre away from Gir forest bordering Gadhiya village. The area is part of Sarasiya round in Dalkhaniya range of Gir east forest. The incident comes weeks after the death of 23 Asiatic lions in Sarasiya Vidi in Dalkhaniya range due to an outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV) and also due to fighting among lions.

Junagadh wildlife circle chief conservator of forests (CCF) Dushyant Vasavada told The Indian Express that the lioness has been shifted to Ambardi Safari Park near Dhari. "She will be kept under observation for some time and if everything is found normal, she will be released in her territory," he said.

Later in the evening, local forest officers said that the lioness had been released in the wild.

After initial deaths of 13 lions in Sarasiya Vidi between September 12 and September 24, the forest department had rescued remaining the 13 lions from that forest and shifted them to Jasadhar Rescue Centre. However, by September 29, 10 of them died during treatment while the remaining three are still being given treatment.

After National Institute of Virology, Pune confirmed that samples drawn from some of the lions had returned positive for the contagious CDV, the forest department had rescued 31 lions from adjoining Semardi area as well as two from the neighbouring Paniya range. The lions rescued from Semardi have been kept under observation at Jamwala Rescue Centre in Gir (west) forest division while the two of Paniya have been shifted to Babarkot Rescue Centre in Amreli social forestry division. All the lions rescued from Sarasiya Vidi and adjoining areas have been given doses of CDV vaccine imported from the US.

"All the rescued lions are healthy and they continue to be under observation," the CCF said, adding that a drive to vaccinate cattle and dogs in villages falling in and around Dalkhaniya range was ongoing.


 

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