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Lion safaris begin in Gir but poor tourist response a cause for concern

Written by Gopal B Kateshiya
| Rajkot |

October 22, 2020 6:01:14 am

Vacationers watch Asiatic lions throughout a safari contained in the Gir forest on Monday. (The Press Reporter Picture)

THOUGH THE Gir sanctuary and two safari parks inside it have opened to vacationers after a really lengthy interval, vacationer footfall is but to choose up and forest officers say that let slots even for Diwali festivities are but to be booked. The poor starting to the season has residents of Sasan, the village surrounded by forest who rely on tourism to earn their livelihood anxious.

The tourism zone contained in the Gir Nationwide Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (GNPWS) opened to the vacationers on October 16 after an early closure on March 21 this 12 months. Gir Interpretation Zone, Devaliya, popularly generally known as Devaliya safari park in Gir (west) wildlife division close to Sasan and Ambardi safari park in Gir (east) wildlife division close to Dhari in Amreli district, had opened on October 1 after closing their gates to vacationers attributable to Covid-19 lockdown which had begun in Gujarat on March 21 this 12 months.

“The response has been lukewarm to date this 12 months. Lower than 500 safaris have occurred in these three tourism locations because the season started. Until yesterday, permits had been out there even for Diwali festivities days,” Dushyant Vasavada, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle, mentioned.

Normally, vacationer footfall stays the very best throughout Diwali festivities in October-November and in the course of the summer time holidays in colleges in April-Could. However this 12 months, the height of summer time was misplaced to the lockdown and allow reserving evn for Diwali, which falls on November 14 this 12 months, is but to choose up.

“…folks could also be preferring to stay indoors because of the Covid-19 pandemic. …we at the moment are permitting entry to youngsters beneath 10 years of age in addition to aged. Now that restrictions on vacationers of sure age teams have been lifted, we would see an uptick within the variety of guests,” Vasavada additional mentioned.

In regular instances, the 2 safari parks stay open to vacationers around the 12 months, whereas safaris contained in the GNPWS are allowed from October 16 to June 15. The sanctuary stays closed to vacationers in the course of the monsoon. Final 12 months, 5.23 lakh vacationers had visited Gir forest to see Asiatic lions.

Forest division has quota of 150 vacationer permits per day. Nevertheless, lower than 10 per cent of them are being booked today. “We’re seeing round 5 safaris within the morning and an equal quantity within the night. In all, about 75 safaris have departed from Sasan from the day the sanctuary gates had been opened to the vacationers. Individuals are simply not turning up as but,” mentioned Khimji Sandera, president of Gipsy Homeowners Affiliation (GOA), Sasan, an organisation of homeowners of vacationer gypsies, mentioned.

Sasan, a village in Junagadh taluka, is the headquarters of GNPWS and its residents rely closely on tourism for incomes their livelihood. “…Lots of our members have bought gypsies by availing financial institution loans and for need to vacationers they’re discovering it troublesome to pay even their financial institution instalments,” Sandera mentioned.

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