SASAN: Life is tough for Rakesh Hirpara — sometimes he is mending a broken leg of a deer in Gir sanctuary, doing a post-mortem on a lion in Sasan or tranquilising a beast that has fallen into a well in 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 1990s 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,
And he is paid a pittance for this round-the-clock job,which is around Rs 12,000 a month. 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 say, recently the government put out an advertisement to fill up this post, but by contract, which will only dissuade applicants. Sources say, on an average, Hirpara attends 8-10 calls per week.
This comes on top of his duties of attending to injured animals under his treatment. It is also mandatory for Hirpara to accompany the team of officials whenever they are on a rescue operation. "There are two other veterinary doctors in Sakkarbaug zoo but they are only for treatment of zoo animals," said an official.
Officials said that there was immediate need for two more veterinarians, especially when the
Said an official, "In the early '90s when there were 280 lions restricted within the sanctuary, one veterinary doctor was enough, but now when more lions are straying outside, there is need for at least two more doctors."