Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gir to go on a four-month monsoon vacation.

DNA Correspondent
Saturday, June 13, 2009 13:01 IST

Ahmedabad: If you have been planning to pay the lions in Gir a visit but have not been able to do so, then this weekend is perhaps your last opportunity for another four months to come. The lions' keepers will close the sanctuary's doors to tourists for the four months of monsoon starting June 16, coming Tuesday.

The period is also believed to be the lions' mating period, during which they do not like to be disturbed. Moreover, even the roads in the wildlife sanctuary are rendered unusable because of the rainfall as most of the trails inside the forest are non-concrete.

"Every year the forest is closed for tourists for these four months in the year. This is to ensure that the lions are not disturbed during mating. The sanctuary will reopen on October 16," principal chief conservator of forest, wildlife Pradip Khanna said.

The lion census is due next year in 2010 and preparations for the same are already underway. There were 358 lions in the forest as per the last census conducted in 2005. Residents of region and environmentalists believe there has been a healthy rise in lion population over the past few years, pegging the figure at around 500.

According to recent reports, lions have been found prowling in coastal villages of Veraval and Bhavnagar - as far as 300 km from the Gir protected forest. This, naturalists claim is because the entire Saurashtra region used to be the habitated by Asiatic lions about a century ago and now they are reclaiming their old corridor.

This has the forest department on their toes with numerous incidents of man-animal conflict. An elaborate plan to expand to include the surrounding areas of Gir forest as reserved protected forest area has been initiated under the banner 'Greater Gir project'. With the Damocles Sword of the case of Madhya Pradesh demanding to relocated a pair of lions to their Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary also has the foresters under pressure to expand the lions' habitat.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_gir-to-go-on-a-four-month-monsoon-vacation_1264461

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