The wildlife officials said that Mamta was suffering from the infection for quite sometime and veterinarians attending to her had advised removal of the uterus which exhibited signs of pus accumulation. The surgery could not be carried out on the animal because of her old age and other health reasons, besides being a poor subject for anesthesia.
Renuka is nearly 40 km from Nahan, headquarter of Sirmaur district bordering Uttrakhand. It was once considered as the best breeding centre for Afro-Asiatic lions in Himachal Pradesh.
Confirming the death, Himachal’s Chief Wildlife Warden J S Walia said preliminary findings of the postmortem conducted on Mamta revealed excessive accumulation of pus in the uterus and also abdominal cavity . “Excess pus led to the failure of the immune system of the animal,” he said.
Walia said cremation of the animal was done later in the day in presence of designated committee. But before this, necessary samples were also drawn and sent to the disease Investigation Lab in Shimla for detailed analysis.
Now, with Mamta’s death, there is only one lioness left in the state’s oldest zoo, set-up in 1959 in the Renuka wildlife sanctuary in Sirmaur district. But, this lioness, say senior wildlife officials, also suffers from the inbreeding problem, which had led to wipe out the entire population of more than two dozen lions/lioness at the Zoo in mid-nineties. The other zoo at Gopalpur near Palampur (Kangra) also has only one lion .
“It’s more than a decade back, the breeding programme at the zoo was stopped because of inbreeding problem. Efforts are made to revive the programme by inducting some progenies,” said Walia.
“We have taken-up the matter with central zoo authority to provide some new animals/cubs from other zoos so that some attraction could be added to the centre, and breeding programme should be revived. The problem however remains that lions are not available in other zoos also,” said Walia.
Still, the wildlife department has got in touch with officials at ChattBir Zoo to get two cubs for Renuka zoo as authorities feel that the single male there will no survive long left alone.
Officials here informed that Gir forest national park and wildlife sanctuary is perhaps the only place for where Asiatic lions and tigers have coexisted and shown a rise in population.