Lion deaths: Let experts decide on vaccination, says Guj HC
Ahmedabad, Oct 15: The Gujarat High Court on Monday said that experts should decide whether all lions in the state's Gir forest need to be vaccinated to prevent the outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV).
The state government had told HC during the last hearing that out of the 23 lions which were found dead in Gir forest in September, 17 had succumbed to CDV and bacterial infection. These lions had died in the Dalkhaniya range of Gir (east) division of Amreli district.
A bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi is hearing two PILs, one filed by wildlife activist Biren Pandya and a suo motu PIL on the unnatural deaths of lions due to electrocution and falling into open wells.
The issue of deaths of lions in September due to infections was added at a later stage. The HC on Monday also asked the Union government as to why it has allocated an upkeep fund of Rs 95,000 for a lion when the same is Rs 15 lakh in the case of a tiger. The issue was raised by Hemang Shah, the lawyer appointed by court to argue the PIL.
During the course of hearing Monday, the Gujarat government told court that lions in the affected areas of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary were vaccinated along with cattle and dogs following the outbreak in September. Shah submitted that all lions residing in the forest, which the government says now number over 600, should be vaccinated.
According to the May 2015 census, there are 523 lions in Gujarat. The court observed that the matter should be best kept for the experts to decide, while reserving its order for Wednesday. On the matter of erecting parapet walls around open wells, the government Monday said that three districts have been asked to submit reports. The government told the HC that work of covering wells was underway but did not give a deadline for its completion.
The government has to inform the court every two months about the progress in this connection. On the matter of death of lions due to electrocution, advocate Shah suggested that power supply of farmers having electric fences around their farm land be suspended for three to six months. He said that criminal cases must be registered in the matter and day-to-day hearing of such cases should be held.