Friday, February 01, 2008

People roped in to save Gir lions


People roped in to save Gir lions

Indian Express By Sibte Hussain Bukhari

Junagadh, January 31 In A bid to air the message to conserve and preserve the last surviving group of Asiatic lions, the Forest Department along with environmentalists, organised a 'Lion Safety March' in the Gir forest.

The two-day march started at Dedakiyali village adjoining Gir on January 28 and covered the villages of Ambala, Amarapur, Sarkari, Jalodar, Dudhala, Vadiya, Bhojde and Dhamlej before culminating at Veraval city a day later, with people extending their unflinching support towards saving the big cats.

Assistant Conservator of Forest (Girnar Range) P S Babaria said, "The march started from Dedakiyali village where around 1,500 people had assembled. We appealed to them to cover the parapet-less wells, to remove live wired fences, as also to remain alert while dealing with interstate labourers."

He said the message of saving the lions, which are "invaluable ornaments of this region" was well received by the villagers. As such, without the support of the local people, particularly villagers, the Forest Department would not be able to preserve them, he said.

Members of the Kodinar-based NGO, Prakriti Parivar Trust, also joined the march and played an active role in creating awareness about the lions.

Dinesh Goswami, the trust president, said, “The march was mainly aimed at connecting our culture with nature. People here strongly believe in their religion and value their culture. So, to spread our message, we concentrated on the strong values of our culture and religion.”

“We told them that lions are our assets and it is our cultural as well religious duty to preserve them. We have received tremendous response from people of all walks of life,” he said.

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