Twenty three lions have died in the last 19 days at a national park in India. Two lions succumbed during treatment on Tuesday.
Last fortnight, carcasses of over a dozen Asiatic lions were found in Gir National Park, forcing wildlife authorities to order a probe. Infighting and spread of infections in their liver and kidney are believed to have led to the death of such a large number of Asiatic lions.
Eleven lions died due to territorial fighting and infections between September 12 and 19, a senior forest official said. He added, 10 more died between September 20 and 30 while they were under the process of shifting to an animal medical center.
To control the death, Gujarat Forest Department had constituted 64 rescue teams to comb the vast Gir forests and capture sick and weak lions for intensive medical treatment.
The park authorities had moved 31 lions for immediate treatment. All of them were kept in isolation. “Two lions, rescued earlier, died on Tuesday morning due to infection,” Rajiv Kumar Gupta, additional chief secretary of the Forest Department told Press Trust of India.
Listed as critically endangered in 2000, wild Asiatic lions reside only in one Indian forest – Gir National Park, over 1,400 square kilometers in the western state of Gujarat.
Their status saw an improvement in 2008 when their number increased to over 500. The status was downgraded from critically endangered to endangered species in 2008.
According to the latest lion count completed in 2015, there are 523 Asiatic lions, including 109 male, 201 female, 73 sub-adults, and 140 cubs. About 10 of them died in floods in 2016.