The Gujarat Forest Department has set up as many as 64 teams to scan the vast Gir forests to identify sick and weak lions and immediately shift them to rescue centres in view of the recent deaths of 11 big cats in the region.
Simultaneously, a central government team of wildlife experts has also flown in to Gujarat to find out the reasons for the sudden deaths in a short span.
As many as 11 carcasses of lions were found from the Dalkhania and Jasadhar range in the protected Gir sanctuary between September 11 and 19.
According to the claims of Gujarat forest officials, the lions were killed in territorial war and infighting. Later, the officials added that besides infighting, some of the big cats died due to infection.
Gujarat's Additional Chief Secretary for Environment and Forests Rajiv Gupta said viscera samples of the dead animals have been sent to Pune-based National Institute of Virology.
Once the institute's report arrived, further course of action would be decided, he said, and added that 64 teams comprising more than 270 personnel had been deployed in the forests.
According to the latest census in 2015, the Gir forest region has 523 lions, 109 of which were male and 201 female, besides 140 cubs and 73 sub-adults. There were 411 beasts in the 2010 survey and 359 in the 2005 census.
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