According to a forest official, this is not the first incident of this type. Ever since the tourist inflow increased from Diwali on November 3, there has been nine incidents of illegal entry into the sanctuary. The forest department has caught these tourists and has also collected a fine of Rs 74,000 from them.
He said in the past eight cases of illegal entry, offenders have been arrested and a fine of Rs 74,000 has been collected from them. "During the festive season, seeing the inflow of tourists, the department increased patrolling and erected watch towers on sanctuary borders to prevent illegal entries. We also kept a vigil on guesthouses and farmhouses, which have earlier been involved in such activities," the deputy conservator of forests added.
Officials also said that when a tourist failed to get a permit, he/she was approached by many local residents, who were either guides or forest staffers. "Aware of the location of lions, these staffers or locals took the tourists on a night safari. In majority of instances, this was outside the sanctuary, while in areas in Talala and Sasan, it was inside the sanctuary. With just limited issuing of permits by the department, there was utter chaos and people had to stand in line from midnight," the officials added.
Similarly, on Dhari-Tulshiyam Road, which connects Diu, about 80,000 permits for four-wheelers were issued by the department. This was an indication of the increased pressure on the sanctuary during the festive season, an official said.