30 Asiatic lions missing after floods in Gir forest sighted in good health

Vadodara: Conservationists breathed a sigh of relief after nearly 30 Asiatic lions feared to have perished in heavy rains last month, were spotted in Gir forest area of Gujarat's Amreli district, roaming and feasting on their prey.

Torrential rains and floods on June 22 had claimed 10 lions and about 30 others were believed to have been swept away by swirling waters but they were sighted on the hills recently, a senior forest official said.

"These lions were missing after the torrential rains on June 22 that killed at least 10 of them. They were recently sighted on the hills of Bhavadi and Hogoliya and surrounding area of Shetrunji river in Gir forest under Amreli district. Three missing lions were traced this morning," Deputy Conservator of Forest M R Gurjar told PTI over phone today.

"The teams of trackers started visiting these areas after the missing report of lions and located the big cats on hills and surrounding areas of Gir forest, the lone home of Asiatic lions," he said.

About 40 lions were living near the banks of Shetrunji river in Liliya-Krakach area. "Since the water level in Shetrunji river near Liliya-Krakach had increased on June 22, the lions might have migrated to nearby villages," Gurjar said.

Ten lions were swept away in the swelling Shetrunji river after the flood. Their carcasses were later recovered, he said. 

"The staff of the state forest department, animal rights activists and villagers had launched a search for the missing lions and found them roaming safely in their territory, killing their prey in the surrounding areas," Gurjar said.

"The Gir National Park has lots of elevations and hills where the lions retreat when there is flood. Now, as a precuationary measure, we will be taking help of local people to drive away lions to hilly areas in case of warning of heavy rains," he said.

The devastating flood had also swept away a large number of domestic cattle and herbivores like blue bulls, chittal, blackbucks and other prey base of lions.

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