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Why Gir Lions were in news recently?

2018-10-28

 

Gujarat Forest Department has started vaccination of lions in Gir sanctuary to protect them from a deadly canine distemper virus (CDV) and protozoa in infections. The virus is blamed for the death of as many as 23 lions in Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary in less than a month.

Asiatic lions

Asiatic lions are cousins of the African lion. They are believed to have split away 100,000 years ago. They are slightly smaller and have distinctive fold of skin along their bellies. Gir sanctuary is the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world. According to the last census conducted in 2015, the number of lions in Gir sanctuary stood at 523. It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, has been categories as Endangered on IUCN Red List and is listed Appendix I of CITES.

Canine distemper virus (CDV)

CDV is highly contagious disease that attacks gastrointestinal, respiratory, central nervous systems, immune system and other vital organs in animals. In most of the cases, the infection is fatal. It is mainly found in wild dogs, jackals and wolves. The disease can be contracted by lions if they eat any animal infected by it. CDV is considered dangerous virus and is blamed for wiping out 30% population of African lions in East African forests.



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