After 27 Deaths In 2 Months, Gujarat Govt Plans Rs 351 Cr To Conserve Asiatic Lions
For the conservation of Asiatic lions, the Gujarat government has announced a package of Rs 351-crore, which includes several new initiatives. The initiatives include building a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital in Sasan-Gir and creating a team of 120 veterinary doctors to treat lions and other wildlife.
Several lions died in the last two months
In the last two months, 27 lions died in and around Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, and most of them had been infected by canine distemper virus (CDV), reported The Indian Express.
After the death, the Lions’ blood samples had been sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology. The virus was found in four cases. However, traces of Protozoans which are usually spread by ticks were found in six other samples. Majority of the lions, however, died of CVD, which is so deadly that it killed nearly 1,000 lions in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park in 1994.
Vaccines had been imported by the United States and helped sought from national and international wildlife experts by the government when the presence of CVD was confirmed in most of the lions that died in the last couple of months. Some of them also died of infighting, pneumonia and protozoa infection.
State Board of Wildlife meeting
At a State Board of Wildlife (SBWL) meeting, the decision was taken. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani chaired the meeting, and Chief Secretary J N Singh was an attendant. Top officials of Department of Forest and Environment also attended the meeting. The officials included Additional Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar Gupta and Principal Chief Conservator of Forest & Head of the Forest Force G K Sinha.
Apart from this, decisions on projects of mining and road construction were also taken and sent to the National Board for Wildlife for approval.
“Elaborate discussion was held at the SBWL meeting on the recent deaths of lions by CDV after which an in-principle decision was taken to sanction Rs 351 crore for various lion conservation measures in the next five years,” Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava said.
He further said that one of building a modern hospital for lions at Rs 100 crore is one of the major decisions and that the hospital will be equipped with modern facilities to deal with every situation. A cadre of 120 expert veterinary doctors will also be formed. A laboratory will be built for conducting tests on animals to find out causes of infections.
Drones will be deployed to keep an eye on lions’ movements, Rs 80 crore will be spent on building as many as eight new rescue centres, 33 Rapid Response Teams will be deployed in the forest and 100 ‘trackers’ will be recruited to keep a watch over the lions, Vasava added. He also said that they have decided to increase the remuneration of lion trackers.
Vasava informed that four new breeding centres for animals like antelopes and nilgai would be built to increase the prey base for lions. Vast grasslands will be created inside the lion sanctuary. Very soon, there will be the launch of ambulance service for lions and a 24-hour helpline to receive important information about lions from the public.
According to Chief Secretary Gupta, the sanctuary’s 24 entry and exit points will be equipped with CCTV surveillance.
Building of safari parks
Besides two already existing lion safari parks in Ambardi and Dhari of Saurashtra, four more of them will be built in the state to reduce the number of tourists in Sasan-Gir region. A tiger safari park near Narmada district’s Kevadiya and leopard safari parks in Bhavnagar, Surat and Dang districts have been planned. Endangered bird species like the Great Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican and Vulture, will get breeding centres under the SBWL’s plan.
In a situation where the lion population had been decreasing rapidly, this positive effort by the State Board of Wildlife is appreciated by The Logical Indian.