TNN | Oct 16, 2016, 07:54 IST
RAJKOT: Nature lovers who wish to see Asiatic lions in their natural habitat can rejoice as the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary will open for tourist on Sunday after a four-month closure. However, those planning to book a safari now will have to wait for 90 days as bookings for this period are already full.
Gir region in Saurashtra, which is the last abode of the endangered Asiatic lion, has recorded a rise in the inflow of tourists ever since the state tourism department launched a campaign featuring Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.
"The booking for Gir Jung le trail or safari as it is called is only done online. This time the sanctuary opens with bookings for the next three months full in advance," chief conservator of forests, (wildlife), Junagadh, A P Singh told TOI.
"In all, 90 permits are issued per day . Since the bookings for the next three months are full, those wishing to catch a glimpse of lions can visit De valia Interpretation Zone that is spread over 412 hectares," Singh added.
Devalia Interpretation Zone remains open throughout ne remains open throughout the year, except for Wednesdays. Tourists can get ticket at its current booking counter at Devalia Interpretation Zone or online. It is located some 7 km from Sasan Gir. Tourists are taken for safari in buses in the fenced zone where lions are kept in the open.
Singh said that on the first day on Sunday , forest officials will welcome tourists with garlands as the excitement among the tourists remains high during the `first show'. There are eight routes in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary for tourists who get vehicles from Sasan (Gir).
Each permit allows six members to spend about three hours inside the sanctuary. The forest department issues 90 permits a day and it goes up to maximum 150 a day during holiday and festival seasons when tourist inflow is more. In all, 1.32 lakh tourists visited the sanctuary in 2015-16.
Also, from this tourist season, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have been installed in all tourist vehicles entering the sanctuary.There are 150 vehicles which operate as tourist vehicles.