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Rescued lions doing fine after deadly virus attack: Official

Rescued lions doing fine after deadly virus attack: Official

Ahmedabad, Nov 7 (PTI) As many as 36 lions rescued after a deadly virus killed over a dozen big cats in Gujarat's Gir sanctuary are doing fine but will be kept under observation for some more time, a senior official said Wednesday.The lions were rescued from areas surrounding the Dalkhaniya range of the Gir forest division in Amreli district following an outbreak of the canine distemper virus (CDV) infection that resulted in 17 out of 23 lion deaths that occurred in the area during mid-September.The rescued lions have been kept in three different centres run by the state Forest Department and are being vaccinated to ensure they do not contract the CDV, the official said."The lions have been under observation of experts since September-end and are doing fine," Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh, Dushyant Vasavada said.He said the felines were being administered booster doses of a vaccine at an interval of three weeks."The vaccine is to be given in a course and not as a single dose. Once we complete the course, we will ensure they are in a position to be relocated, and we will take a call after that. We are waiting for the completion of the vaccination process," he said.The state government was caught off guard after 23 lions, an endangered species, were found dead in a single area of the Gir forest, the last abode of the lions in the country.Laboratory tests had confirmed that 17 out of these lions had died due to CDV, which is highly contagious.The Gujarat High Court had later directed the state government to ensure that no further death of lions is reported due to the virus.The high court had also ordered the government to take steps to prevent lion deaths due to causes like electrocution, falling into wells, getting run over by trains or vehicles, among other reasons.CDV is considered a dangerous virus and is blamed for wiping out about 30 per cent of the lion population in east African forests. PTI KA GK IJT