Monday, June 29, 2015

Floods rain misery on Gujarat’s ‘pride’; 5 lions dead, 35 missing.

Sunday, 28 June 2015 | Nayan Dave | Amreli
The torrential rain that lashed Saurashtra region of Gujarat on Wednesday seems to have taken its toll on wild animals also, as five carcasses of endangered Asiatic Lions have been recovered in the last two days, while at least 35 lions are still missing in the worst-affected Amreli district.
The Gujarat Forest Department on Friday recovered three carcasses from the bank of Shetrunji River in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, while two — one each of a lion and a lioness — were found on Thursday. According to forest officials, the lions died after drowning in the stream of Shetrunji River which flows alongside the Gir wildlife sanctuary.
Search is on for remaining 35 odd lions.“Lions are good swimmers and they are unlikely to drown,” said a senior forest official, adding, “A lioness was on Thursday rescued from a temple in Ingorala village of Amreli, where she had apparently taken shelter.”  The region — close to Gir forest — has received heavy rain in the range of 16 to 27 inches in a span of just six to eight hours. Many villagers have also shifted due to constant arrival of wild animals in the area. 
“Once forest beat guards are done clearing worst-hit regions, they might be able to spot missing lions too,” the official added.Asiatic Lion is an endangered species and its only wild population in the world is surviving in Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts in the Saurashtra region. 
A census, conducted in May this year, had estimated an increase in the population of Asiatic Lions to 523 from 411 in 2010. More than 80 people and over 1,000 animals, including deer, blue bulls and foxes, have been reportedly killed in the floods. “We are burying the carcasses on priority basis to prevent spread of diseases. However, the matter of concern is that many flooding rivers and rivulets come in the proximity of Gir Forest and we can only hope that the missing lions are smartly shifted to safer places,” an official said.

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