Friday, April 20, 2007

Just one vet for 359 lions in Gir

SASAN (JUNAGADH): Life is tough for Rakesh Hirpara — sometimes he is mending a broken leg of a deer in Gir sanctuary, at other times doing a post-mortem on a lion in Sasan or tranquillising a beast that has fallen into a well for a rescue operation in Amreli!


Hirpara is the only veterinary doctor for the 359 lions and the rest of the animals in the Gir forest.


The lion population has grown from 284 in the '90s to 359 in 2005, but the government has not bothered to fill the vacant posts for veterinary doctors in Gir.


In fact, Hirpara is the only vet between Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Porbander and Amreli. There are three posts of vets, but two have been vacant since 1998, and Hirpara has been on contract for the last 10 years.


He is paid a pittance — around Rs 12,000 a month — for this round-the-clock job. In fact the government built a veterinary hospital in Jasadhar in Tulsishyam range but did not appoint a doctor, which has rendered the hospital useless.


Official sources said, recently the government put out an advertisement to fill up this post, but by contract, which only dissuades applicants.


Sources say, on an average Hirpara attends 8-10 calls per week, which is besides taking care of the injured animals under his treatment.

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