Friday, April 25, 2008

'Lion shows only outside Gir'

25 Apr 2008, 0206 hrs IST,TNN

AHMEDABAD: The state forest department has admitted that 'lion shows' of the kind that TOI had exposed, could be going on, but outside the "protected area".

A report in TOI on April 22 and April 23 had exposed how villagers were networking with farmers to stage lion shows for tourists by tying unwanted cattle or goats as baits for lions to prey upon.

And this was set up for tourists at a premium. Later, the farmers claimed compensation on the ground that the livestock had been killed by lions.

A rejoinder sent by the principal chief conservator of forest on Thursday claimed that no farmer had resorted to such illegal baiting of lions for tourism.

However, the official said: "It is believed that due to increased communication facilities in rural areas, people communicate fast about the natural livestock killed by lions and as the wild animals take some time to consume the kill, local people and occasionally tourists may be gathering at the site outside the Gir protected area to watch lions."

When TOI contacted Junagadh collector Ashwini Kumar, he said the forest department was yet to inform the collectorate about any such shows in the revenue area. "But definitely action can be taken against such people under the Wildlife Protection Act," Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the forest department has banned entry of over 30-odd jeeps taking tourists inside the Gir sanctuary for the routine lion sighting, which would mean nearly 100 drivers and guides would be rendered jobless while the touts remain untouched, said a senior officer.

The ban was imposed after state forest and environment minister Mangubhai Patel rushed PCCF Pradeep Khanna to Sasan to inquire into the involvement of drivers and guides in lion shows.


No comments: