The carcasses of 11 lions were found in Gir (east) forest division in Amreli district in last 10 days due to infighting and diseases, sources claimed on Thursday. The deaths have prompted the state government to order an inquiry into the cases.
All the dead lions were found mainly from Dalkhaniya range in the last few days, an official said.
“We have found carcasses of 11 lions from Gir east forest range,” said P Purushothama, the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Gir (east). For administrative purpose, the Gir forest has been divided in east and west parts.
Sources said that three sub-adult lions died in an in-fight. Another sub-adult lion and a lioness died under treatment at an animal care centre in Jasadhar and Junagadh, respectively.
Carcasses of two lionesses and a lion were found in a decomposed state a few days ago. Three other lion cubs also died due to illness, a senior official said.
The news comes a day after a lioness was found dead in Rajula taluka on Wednesday.
“We have collected viscera samples of the dead animals and sent them to the Junagadh Veterinary Hospital and are waiting for the postmortem report,” the official added.
Additional chief secretary of the Forest and Environment Department Dr Rajiv Kumar Gupta said the state government has ordered an inquiry which would be conducted by the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife).
“Primary information shows that eight deaths have occurred due to infighting. For the rest three, postmortem reports are awaited,” Gupta said.
PCCF wildlife A K Saxena, who rushed to the Gir forest, said that most of the deaths are due to infighting and resultant injuries. “Most of the deaths are due to infighting and injuries caused thereby, mainly affecting cubs and females. This trend has been noticed over a period of three to four years. No foul play is suspected,” Saxena said.
As per the 2015 census, Gir is home to 520 lions.
Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani on Thursday demanded that a probe must be conducted to ascertain cause of deaths of the endangered species.
“The news that bodies of four dead lions have been found in the last few days-three in Dalkhaniya range of Gir forest and one in Rajula is saddening and unfortunate. It is feared that total 11 lions may be dead and rest of the bodies have not yet been found. If true, it is alarming and calls for authorities to investigate the cause and book culprits,” Nathwani said in a release.
(With PTI inputs)