AHMEDABAD: The Union ministry of environment forest and climate change has given its final nod to the second lion interpretation zone in the state at Ambardi in Dhari. The new interpretation zone will come as a boon for tourists heading to Diu, and who want to have a glimpse of the majestic lions.
The Interpretation zone had hit a roadblock after officials from the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI) refused to give final approval to the park due to inadequate fencing.
The interpretation zone will develop eco-tourism on Ahmedabad-Bhavnagar-Rajkot-Amreli-Dhari-Una-Tulsishyam-Diu route. Visitors will now have an option to enjoy the view of lions; either at Gir Forest National Park or at Ambardi safari park.
The park at Ambardi will be located 6km away from Dhari and will be a part of protected forests. In addition it is situated near the Khodiyar dam with the river Shetrunji flowing through it.
Officials said that the state government had decided to create another lion interpretation zone at Ambardi, on the lines of Devaliya Park in Junagadh, to ease the tourist pressure on Sasan and Devaliya Park during peak season.
The zone is being developed with the assistance of the Centre across an area of 400 hectares. State forest department officials said the new zone will have lions in a closed but natural environment also inhabited by other animals.
The zone will attract tourists arriving directly at Bhavnagar and Amreli, and even heading towards Diu from Ahmedabad. "Earlier, such tourists had to travel all the way to Sasan Gir in Junagadh to see lions," a forest department official said.
The Gujarat forest department had been ready with the Ambardi Interpretation Zone in 2013, but CZAI's objection had halted further progress. Final inspection of the zone made by CZAI officials had revealed that the fencing fell 12cm short of the approved 4.52-meter height, and work of shifting lions to the zone was stalled.
After failing in successive representations to convince CZAI that a minor difference of 12 cm didn't matter, finally the forest department decided to raise the fencing to approved height.
The officials said that they would now be able to shift zoo-bred lions within no time and hope to start the zone soon, after the monsoon.
Earlier, the killing of three people by lions in Ambardi village had led to an inquiry, where the report found that the park had effectively blocked the natural corridor of a pride of lions, which used to move from Gir-east up to Dhari in Amreli district. This blockage forced the lions to venture into human inhabited areas, thus making the people there vulnerable to attacks.