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India | Officials: Canine distemper behind deaths of 23 lions in 2 weeks in & around Gir Forest NP

The death of 23 Asiatic lions (three lions, 11 lionesses and nine cubs above six months) in just two weeks, starting end of September and beginning of October, set alarm bells ringing for the Gujarat Forest Department. Initially, confusion prevailed but progressive deaths compelled the authorities to go for a prompt scientific investigation. Samples of the dead lions were sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Junagadh, and FSL Junagadh to find out the possible reason that killed the lions.

Samples of five lions confirmed the attack of a virus — Canine Distemper Virus (CDV). The Veterinary College, Junagadh, confirmed the presence of Babesia protozoa in about a dozen samples. Suspecting an attack of the CDV, all surviving lions from the Sarasiya Round in Dalkhaniya Range were captured and kept in isolation at the Jasadhar lion care centre to avoid any contact with other lions.

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