Ten critically endangered Asiatic lions were killed as a result of the intense floods which was triggered by last month’s monsoon rains.
The Federal Environment Ministry in New Delhi reported over the weekend that the rains killed ten of the country’s 523 lions in two badly affected areas near their sanctuary in Gir National Forest of southern Gujarat state.The natural disaster also killed 80 spotted deer and 1,670 Asian antelopes.
Intense flooding claimed more than 81 lives and forced others to evacuate the state, according to the ministry.
Rescue teams, composed of animal activists and villagers, launched an operation to find other lions which were badly affected from the flood.
About 80 lions were rescued from the area safely, according to the ministry’s reports.
The Press Trust of India reported that when the lions were found they had "weak health and shocked condition." The rescue teams provided them with food and first aid.
Although the country’s environmentalists warned in the Indian Supreme Court in 2013 about the risk of the accommodating all lions in a sanctuary and be hit all at once by a natural disaster, Gujarat state did not agree to distribute the lions to a second sanctuary claiming that there was no urgency.
"There is no cause for panic," said C.N. Pandey, a top forest official in Gujarat, adding that "conservation efforts are ongoing."
The Asiatic Lion, also known as the Indian Lion or the Persian Lion is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its decreased population.
It has a single population in the southern Gujarat state of India, with its 523 members comprising 109 males, 201 females and 213 cubs, according to 14th Asiatic Lion Census in 2015.