The Gujarat Forest department said they will take a call on vaccinating lions in the coming days
The Gujarat Forest department has received from the United States 300 shots of a vaccine against Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) which is believed to have caused the death of some lions at Gir Sanctuary.
Since September 12, as many as 23 lions have died in the sanctuary, at least 11 of them due to CDV and Protozoa infections, according to forest officials.
Additional Chief Secretary of the Forest Department Rajiv Kumar Gupta said the decision as to whether to administer the vaccine to lions will be taken after going through various health reports of the animals.
“The consignment has just reached Gir. We will take a call on vaccinating lions in the coming days after analysing various reports,” Mr Gupta told PTI.
The 36 lions which were shifted to rescue centres from the forest as a precautionary measure are “doing well” and “stable”, he said.
Director of Sakkarbaug Zoo, JS Rana, who collected the consignment at Rajkot aiport Friday, said the vaccine has proved effective in other countries and it offers protection against CDV for one year.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had said Thursday that lions contracted a “contagious disease” after eating “contaminated food”.
Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Paresh Dhanani alleged Friday that there could be a conspiracy behind the lions’ deaths for “political gains”.
“I suspect that lions died after eating contaminated food served to them by the administration. It can be a conspiracy to shift lions to Madhya Pradesh and get votes during the polls (in that state),” Mr Dhanani alleged.
The Madhya Pradesh government has been demanding that some of the Asiatic lions from Gir be shifted to sanctuaries in that state. A litigation over the issue is pending before the Supreme Court.
Additional chief secretary Gutpa and Gujarat Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava on Wednesday denied the suggestion that forest staff provide meat to lions to keep them in a particular area.
“Lions hunt their own prey…. our staff do not feed lions,” Mr Gupta had said. As per the latest estimate of the forest officials, Gir Sanctuary has around 600 lions.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)