Saturday 17 March 2018

10 endangered lions killed in monsoon flooding

At least 10 of the country's 523 lions were killed in the floods
At least 10 of the country's 523 lions were killed in the floods

Monsoon flooding that killed dozens of people in western India last month also hurt the world's last population of wild Asiatic lions, forest officials have said.

The floods killed at least 81 people with mudslides, collapsed homes or high waters in Gujarat state, while thousands were forced to evacuate their homes.

The report, submitted by forest officials this weekend to the state's environment ministry, said the rains had also killed at least 10 of the country's 523 lions - the last members of the subspecies left anywhere in the wild - as well as prey animals including more than 80 spotted deer and 1,670 Asian antelope called blue bulls, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).

The lions' deaths occurred in two badly flooded areas near the lion sanctuary in Gir National Forest in southern Gujarat.

Other lions were found in "weak health and shocked condition" and were given treatment and food supplements, the report said.

Hundreds of park workers, animal activists and villagers launched a search for the lions, and found about 80 "roaming safely in their territory, killing wild animals and blue bulls from the surrounding areas," it said, according to the PTI.

The lions' deaths underline conservationists' concerns about keeping all of the lions in a single location.

They argued successfully in India's Supreme Court in 2013 for some to be relocated to a second sanctuary far away, to prevent the population from being hit all at once by natural disaster or disease. But Gujarat has resisted moving any of the lions.

Press Association

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