Epidemic in Gir, Gujarat to develop second home for Asiatic lions
In a bid to counter the campaign for creating a second home for Asiatic lions in Madhya Pradesh, the Gujarat Government has decided to shift a few of the wild cats to Barda Dungar forest within the state as a protection against total destruction of the endangered species in case of an epidemic in Gir sanctuary.
Pushed to a corner due to the death of 23 lions in canine distemper virus (CDV) and babesiosis protozoa infections in Dalkhaniya range in Amreli district in the Gir sanctuary, state Forest and Environment Minister Ganpat Vasava said the state government had decided to "expedite shifting of lions to Barda Dungar to develop it as the second home of the Asiatic lions."
The state government's move, however, is unlikely to satisfy the wild life experts who are apprehensive about the safety of the Asiatic lions in case of outbreak of an epidemic in Gir, currently the only abode of the species whose number on the earth had come down to only 523 as per the 2015 census, besides a few confined in various zoos.
Barda Dungar, spread over 340 sq km, is located in Porbandar district, just about 80 km from the present boundary of the Gir sanctuary. Since several of the lions have already walked out of the declared sanctuary limits, the state government has decided to catch a few of them and release them in Barda Dungar to physically translocate the wild cats before they themselves walked the short distance and make it a natural corridor from the Gir, which would defeat the government's purpose of developing it as its second home.
There already are reports of the local people having cited a couple of lions in Barda Dungar forest.