AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat forest department has told its field staff to scan every part of the lion territory, including social forestry areas, to determine if any big cat has Covid-like symptoms. Moreover, the department will launch a special drive to vaccinate all the field staff.
The Gujarat forest department on Saturday had ordered the shutdown of the Gir lion sanctuary and other wildlife tourist attractions across the state till further notice. This followed the issuance of an advisory by the Union forest ministry.
Senior state forest department officials said that a camp will be organized to get rapid antigen as well as RT-PCR tests done on the field staff. D T Vasavada, the chief conservator of forests, Junagadh, said: “We have already carried out a surveillance operation and have ensured that the staff was checked for Covid.” Vasavada added: “In the past too, when corona was at its peak, similar drives were taken up.
We are regularly monitoring the health of the lions and other animals in the sanctuary.” Vasavada said that so far not a single animal has shown the signs of Covid. He said that the Sasan hospital where rescued lions are brought for treatment is regularly sanitized, as are the cages at zoos.
A senior officer said that an isolation area will be created at the Sasan hospital, and at other rescue centres, to house animals if they ever display Covid symptoms.
The officer said that 20% of the staff have been vaccinated and the others will be soon. The officer said that a detailed roadmap has been prepared for surveillance in greater Gir and other areas so that if any animal is sick, the department is informed. The officer said that the forest department is planning to rope in its informers and the sarpanches in the greater Gir area to get information of any sick or weak animal.

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