“The incident took place on the evening of May 22. Four persons on their way from Jamwala to Shemardi stopped midway, parked their vehicle on the roadside and entered the forest area with a view to watch lions. But they were caught by our staff for illegally entering the sanctuary area. They were let off after they paid Rs12,500 fine,” range forest officer (RF)) of Dalkhaniya in Gir East division, Bharat Parmar said.
The RFO said that the four men belonged to Rajkot and Nadiad in Kheda district. “They confessed their offence and therefore we showed some leniency and let them go after they paid the fine,” said Parmar.Entering a sanctuary area can attract imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to Rs 25,000.
Gir forest and other protected areas are the only natural habitat of endangered Asiatic lions. Lakhs of tourists go on official lion safaris conducted in tourism zone of Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary from Sasan every year. But some try to enter the protected forest without premission to watch lions and get caught.