The heavy rain has not only killed many persons but also affected the wildlife in Gir and other forest areas in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Apart from 2 lions, 85 blackbucks have also been found dead in the last two days.
It is being feared that the death toll of blackbucks is actually much more than the official figure.
On Wednesday, forest authorities came across carcasses of a lion and a lioness in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts respectively.
The lioness was drowned in the Shetrunji river, which continues to be in spate, thanks to heavy downpour, and her carcass was found near Liliya village. Decomposed carcass of the lion was discovered in a private farm in Chiroda village close to the Palitana hills, the pilgrim place of Jains.
But compared to the big cats, blackbucks are badly hit, particularly in and outside Velavadar National Park, spread over an area of 36 sq km, near Bhavnagar. The game reserve is famous for its large blackbuck population. There are more than 3,000 blackbucks in this sanctuary.
"By Thursday evening, we have recovered 85 carcasses of blackbucks from outside the sanctuary.
Only a handful of them have been found dead inside the game reserve. In fact, hardly two or three. Most of the carcasses that we have recovered are from adjacent villages like Madhiya, Sawai, Narmad and Ganeshgadh," range forest officer (mobile squad) Naresh Vaghela told Hindustan Times.
The fact is they are still counting. The hunt for the blackbuck carcasses is on and the figure could be alarmingly higher.
"The cause is clearly the incessant rain in the entire Bhavnagar district. A couple of reservoirs around the sanctuary are overflowing and the waters have done many blackbucks in. Three gates of the Kalubhar dam near Gadhda were already badly damaged.
They could not stand the severe flow of water. There are around 3,500 blackbucks inside and on the periphery of the sanctuary. The ones inside the game reserve are perfectly secure. And we are trying our best to rescue the others," added Vaghela.