Demanding a fair probe into the deaths of 23 Asiatic lions in Gir, Bajrang Group, a charitable organisation, gave a call for bandh in Dhari even as Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment Department, Rajiv Kumar Gupta, visited the affected forest area on Monday. The outfit on Monday appealed to traders and shopkeepers to observe a bandh on Tuesday. “The forest department has declared that 23 lions have died. But people who are living near the affected forest area are telling us that the actual figure is higher. Therefore, to demand a thorough and fair probe into the incident and to take measures to prevent such events in the future, we have given a call for a general strike in Dhari on Tuesday,” Paresh Pattani, president of Bajrang Group, said.
Pattani also said that he had sought permission from authorities to observe a daylong fast at Yogi Chowk in the village “so that dead lion may rest in peace.”
The call for bandh comes after 23 Asiatic lions died between September 12 and September 29. All the deaths were reported from Sarasiya Vidi area in Dalkhaniya range of Gir (east) division forest. The area falls in Dhari taluka of Amreli district. Forest officers said that presence of the dreaded canine distemper virus (CDV) has been detected in samples of four of the dead lions while the presence of Babesiosis and Gram Negative Bacillia bacterial infection has been confirmed in samples of a few others.
Meanwhile, the joint operation launched by the forest and animal husbandry department on Sunday to immunise street dogs and pet against CDV and rabbis continued on Tuesday. After vaccinating 14 dogs on Sunday, teams vaccinated 16 more dogs in Kubda village on Monday. They also vaccinated eight dogs in Sukhpur village and one in Krangsa village. Meanwhile, ACS (forest and environment) Gupta visited Gir (east) forest and reviewed the situation. After CDV and other infection was confirmed in some of the dead lions, the forest department had rescued 33 lions. These lions had been administered CDV vaccine imported from US. The forest department said that order for 500 more doses had been placed.