Monday, June 29, 2015

40 Gir lions feared missing.

Manas Dasgupta
Gujarat forest department officials have fanned out in the flood-ravaged Amreli district in the Saurashtra region of the state for an intensive search of around 40 Asiatic Lions who were spotted in the area in the census last month but are now reported "missing." The recovery of two carcasses, a lion and a lioness, found floating in the Shetrunji river, which was still flowing above the danger mark despite a halt in rain since yesterday, has heightened the forest officers' concern about the safety of the Asiatic Lions. Around 40 lions were spotted in the region outside the Gir lion sanctuary falling in the Amreli district, which was badly ravaged in the heavy rain earlier this week with Bagasara taluka, the home of the Asiatic Lions outside the declared sanctuary being the worst-affected having received a record 600 mm rainfall in a single day on Wednesday. After the May, 2015, lion census, held every five years, the Gujarat government had declared the extended area of the Gir sanctuary as home to 523 lions, an increase by 112 from 411 recorded in 2010 census. At least 40 of these big cats were spotted around the banks of the Shetrunji river, one of the major rivers in the Saurashtra region and the main source of water supply for the Bhavnagar city. A senior state forest official, however, said the lions were unlikely to be submerged in flood waters.

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