New series on India's fight to save Gir lions from canine distemper virus

Mumbai, Jan 20 (PTI) A new 10-part series, 'The Lion Kingdom', will focus on the heroic efforts of the forest department officials to save the Asiatic lions of Gir National Park from the deadly canine distemper virus in 2018.

The show, set to premiere on Animal Planet on January 27, will take viewers at the forefront of India's battle with the deadly virus, which threatened to wipe out the last of the surviving Asiatic lions in the Gir National Park.

The disease is known to have wiped out over 1000 lions in one deadly sweep in the Serengeti National Pak in Tanzania in the 1990s. Produced by filmmaker Upma Bhatnagar of Optimum Television, 'The Lion Kingdom' features renowned veterinary surgeon Steve Leonard as the series host.

The forest department of Gir National Park worked round-the-clock to try and save lions while battling heavy rains and flooding and dealing with a sudden increase in the number of crocodiles in the area as a result, a release from Animal Planet said.

'The deadly CDV virus had the potential to impact India’s pride – the Asiatic lions at The Gir National Park. The outstanding work done by our forest department to handle a crisis of this magnitude is a story which had to be shared with the world,' said, Sai Abishek, director – content, factual & lifestyle entertainment – South Asia, Discovery.

'This series is a testimony to our purpose to grow awareness about wildlife conservation and instill a sense of pride and empathy among audiences towards these incredible animals and those working to save them.' Calling Gir a special place, Bhatnagar said, 'When I heard many scientists and conservationists expressing fears that the Indian lion may not be able to come out of this crisis, I was really worried.

'Gir is very special to me. This is where I had filmed my first TV series, The Lion Queens of India. I enjoy a special bond with the land, its people and its majestic animals. We spoke with Discovery India who sensed the gravity of the situation and gave us their full creative and logistic support to share our story with the nation.” PTI BK BK BK