Why in news?
- The Gujarat government is stunned by the deaths of 23 lions since September 12, 2018.
- The government initially insisted that the lions had died due to infighting for territorial domination, but now has sprung into action and launched not only rescue efforts but also called experts from outside, including London, and imported a vaccine from the United States.
What are the possible causes of these deaths?
- The outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and tick-borne Babesiosis is now being considered the reason for these killings.
- However, experts and forest officials blame the State authorities for adopting a casual approach in conservation, and not taking precautionary measures to deal with the epidemic.
- According to experts, the Gujarat government was warned in 2011, when experts analysed tissues from a 2007 Gir lion carcass.
- It found the presence of highly contagious Peste Des Petits Ruminants Virus (PPRV), which carries an 80%-100% chance of mortality.
About Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife sanctuary
- Today, it is the only area in Asia, where Asiatic lions occur, and is considered one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species.
- 1,412 square km of which 258 square km is fully protected as national park and 1,153 square km as wildlife sanctuary.
- Teak occurs mixed with dry deciduous species. Savannah forests of Gir are locally known as “vidis”. It is the largest dry deciduous forest in western India.
- Several species of acacia are found. Also found here are ber, jamun, flame of the forest, zizyphus, tendu and dhak.
- The carnivores group mainly comprises the Asiatic lion, Indian leopard, jungle cat, striped hyena, Golden jackal, Indian and Ruddy mongoose, and honey badger.
- The main herbivores of Gir are chital, nilgai, sambar, four-horned antelope, chinkara and wild boar.
- Among the smaller mammals, porcupine and hare are common.
- The reptiles are represented by the mugger crocodile, Indian cobra, tortoise and monitor lizard .
- Some of the typical species of avifauna of Gir include crested serpent eagle, endangered Bonelli’s eagle, crested hawk-eagle, brown fish owl, Indian eagle-owl, rock bush-quail, Indian peafowl, brown-capped pygmy woodpecker, black-headed oriole, crested treeswift and Indian pitta.