Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Reel brings to fore Gir royals’ coexistence with humans.

AHMEDABAD: A lion your backyard or field may be a scary thought for many, but for those who live near Gir National Park it is not only a matter of pride but also a reason sleep soundly, says filmmaker Praveen Singh, whose documentary "India's Wandering Lions" captures the coexistence between the people and the big cats.

The one-hour film is the first documentary by the Discovery channel filmed on the villages in the vicinity of the Gir forest and how the Asiatic lion and villagers co-habit. It shows that the increase in the population of lions has forced them to look for territory outside the national park and become an integral part of the farming community in Gujarat.

"We wanted to show that despite living outside the national park, the lions seemed to be doing well and the that people were tolerant towards them. There may be a couple of incidents of lions attacking people a year but most people are proud that lions live among them," Praveen Singh told TOI.

Tracking the lions for over two-and-a-half years, the filmmaker and his team interacted with farmers, NGOs and forest guards. "Many farmers say that the presence of lions deters deer from straying into their fields," he adds.

The lion population in the area has had a healthy growth from 40 to 523 but has led to many challenges. But barring being run over by trains, lions are quite safe even outside the sanctuary.

Singh was all praise for the forest department, saying, "The forest department is very prompt and alert. Whenever we got information of a lion being spotted and went out to the villages to film, the forest department would come and check our permits.

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