Now, Barda Dungar has a lion gene pool
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: After the success of the gene pool experiment at Rampara Virdi, the forest department has started one more gene pool at Barda Dungar, situated on the boundaries of Porbandar and Jamnagar.
So far, six new cubs have survived in the last couple of years at Rampara Virdi. These cubs belong to a separate gene pool. The gene pool was set up after experts had earlier sounded an alert, saying that inbreeding had weakened the unique wild cat's genetic structure.
Officials said that two pairs of lions from completely different areas were captured and brought to Rampara and now to Barda to ensure that the genes differed. "If the lioness is from Sasan, the lion would be from a far-off area of Tulsishyam and even Bhavnagar," a forest official told TOI.
Officials said the Rampara Virdi was the first in the gene pool experiment series and after successful documentation, the state government decided to have one more gene pool at Barda Dungar. In Barda also, the two pairs have already been shifted and they have come close to each other and are also engaged in mating. Officials are keeping a close watch on the development in Barda.
Officials said that among concerns raised by experts, a study by Stephen J O'Brien, chief of the laboratory of viral carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute in Maryland, revealed: "A limited sample of Gir lion from Sakkarbaug zoo revealed high levels of spermatozoal abnormalities. These results affirm the hypothesis that genetic diminishment of natural population may have unfavourable physiological effect such as increased spermatozoal abnormalities."
Experts say inbreeding and loss of genetic variation decrease the ability of wild populations to adapt to climatic changes and make them vulnerable to new diseases, parasites and pollutants.
Officials said that the gene pools are a long-term measure to help conserve genetic diversity. This is captive conservation of lions.
According to them, inbreeding has always been a concern. This could lead to deterioration in genes and rise in diseases harming the animals. "The gene pools will help us monitor and create healthy specimens," said a senior official involved in the project.