CHIEF MINISTER Vijay Rupani launched a high-tech ambulance for the rescue and treatment of endangered Asiatic lions and other wild animals of the Gir forest, during his visit to the Gir National Park and Sanctuary (GNPS) in Junagadh on Tuesday.
Rupani flagged off the ambulance during his visit to Sasan, the headquarters of GNPS and the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world. The CM said that the ambulance will aid Gujarat’s forest department in their efforts towards the conservation of the endangered big cats, whose population was estimated to be only 523 in the year 2015.
Chief Conservator of Forests of Junagadh Wildlife Circle, Dushyant Vasavada said that the ambulance, called Lion Ambulance, is the first of its kind in the country. It is fitted with an anesthesia-cum-ventilator-cum multi-para machine, a blood analyser, and an ultrasound imaging suite. “The ambulance cost around one crore. Three similar ambulances will be ready in the next two months and will be deployed in other areas,” Vasavada said.
Incidentally, over two dozen lions had died within three weeks of an outbreak of the highly contagious and deadly Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) in the Dalkhaniya range of the Gir (east) forest division, in September last year. The forest department had scanned the entire landscape and conducted a primary screening of the lions. 36 lions who displayed symptoms of the disease were shifted to various rescue centres.
Additional Chief Secretary (Forest and Environment) Rajiv Kumar Gupta gave a presentation on the progress made in various projects taken under the Rs 350-crore package declared by the state government for the conservation of these lions.