Shocking: 30 Lions Died in Gujarat’s Gir Forest in last 2 months

In last 2 years more than 200 lions died in Gujarat Gir Forest. Around 30 lions have died in the past two months in Gujarat. A committee was formed to investigate the matter regarding the sudden and shocking death of the lions, which comprised of representatives of the Union Government and prestigious wildlife and research institutions. The committee however failed to come to any conclusion regarding the deaths of the lions.

To investigate the possible cause of the deaths of the lions, the committee will check samples of the lions that have been rescued and are being treated. They will be checked for Covid-19 and any other viral load and also CDV. The dead lions will have their body organs checked to figure out the possible cause of death.

The shocking high rate of lion deaths has come off as extremely bizarre and is full of incredulity. Reports suggest that in 2020, around 92 lion deaths have been witnessed. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and climate change committee reported these lion’s death in the Gujarat’s Asiatic Lion Landscape.

Despite these deaths, the Asiatic lion population in Gujarat rose by 29%, and Prime Minister celebrated this high rise in lion population, and applauded the efforts of people in helping this happen.

The past two years, over 200 lions have died. The majority of them died from CDV infection. CDV is a canine distemper virus. The CDV outbreak in Gir killed as many as 26 lions in just one month.

However, this latest mass death of lions this time is way more than previous outbreaks and deaths. The investigations have not given any result yet. The viral load testing of rescued tigers up for treatment might make things a bit clearer as to what might be causing ailments among the lions.

No particular reason has been ruled out for the deaths, CDV seems less likely and has not been put down as the cause. The committee however questioned as to why the samples of the lions weren’t sent to the NIV for testing. Opposition leaders in Gujarat have written to the State CM to set up an inquiry regarding the sudden deaths of the lions.

Between May 31st and June 1st the committee visited the area where the lions died and it is a bit ironical that when the committee was investigating the high mortality rate of Asiatic lions, PM Narendra Modi was applauding everyone’s effort in brining up the lion population.

The Press Information Bureau released a two page release which said, “In order to develop an understanding of the current population status and distribution of Asiatic lions in the Asiatic Lion Landscape, the Gujarat forest department conducted an exercise familiarly called Poonam Avlokan on June 5-6, 2020, using the Direct Beat Verification also known as the Block Count method.”.

A forest department official believes that this publicizing of lion population growth is just a measure to divert the attention from the growing lion deaths in Gir. The Gujarat Government is being blamed for not taking this matter seriously and risking the lives of animals. They are allegedly finding excuses to not translocate lions to the Kuno-palpur wildlife sanctuary, despite the spread of CDV in majority of the population.

It remains a question why the Government isn’t acting on the 2013 Supreme Court order which ordered the  the reintroduction of lions to Kuno Sancturary and rather letting the lions die.