Context: Gujarat Forest Department has started vaccination of lions in Gir sanctuary to protect them from a deadly canine distemper virus (CDV). The virus is blamed for the death lions in Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary in last one month. Government had involved world-class experts to tackle the situation and control the spread of canine distemper virus Gujarat government urgently imported 300 shots of CDV vaccine from the US after outbreak was confirmed.

What is Canine Distemper Virus?

  • Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is a viral disease that infects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Dogs who have not been vaccinated for Canine Distemper are the most at-risk. While the disease can also be contracted when improperly vaccinated or when a dog has high susceptibility to bacterial infection, these cases are rare.
  • CDV can be spread through direct contact (licking, breathing air, etc.) or indirect contact (bedding, toys, food bowls, etc.), though it cannot live on surfaces for very long. Inhaling the virus is the primary method of exposure. There is no known cure for CDV.

What’s the issue?

The magnificent Asiatic lion is under threat. Twenty-three lions have died in as many days in the eastern part of Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary. This case is more worrisome as the big cat population in Gujarat is the last of the Asiatic lions in the wild.

Facts for Prelims:

  • Gir sanctuary is the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world.
  • It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, has been categories as Endangered on IUCN Red List and is listed Appendix I of CITES.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 

  • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species.
  • Before 1972, Indiaonly had five designated national parks. Among other reforms, the Act established schedules of protected plant and animal species; hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed. 
  • The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants; and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. It extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act.
  • It has seven schedules which give varying degrees of protection. Schedule Iand part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection – offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties. Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower. Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted. The specified endemic plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

  • CITES(the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
  • It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The convention was opened for signature in 1973 and CITES entered into force on 1 July 1975.
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild, and it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.

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