Guesthouses packaging ‘lion shows’ dot Gir
Sasan: If you visit Sasan as a tourist, look out for those innocuous mud huts in the middle of a farm. They promise to show you a lion in the wild. These are guest houses that have sprung up around the Gir forest, that let out rooms at nominal rates, with an additional charge if a lion show is on the cards.
These guest houses might lack the creature comforts, but their owners woo guests by marketing the bonanza of showing the king of the jungle at close quarters.
The rates for these guest houses range from Rs 550 to Rs 1000 for a non air-conditioned room. The fact, however is, that there are hardly any air-conditioned rooms in these guest houses, which are conveniently marketed as enjoying wildlife “in the lap of nature”.
The charges for the lion show is exclusive of the room tariff, but they are far lower for tourists. Sources say, majority of these guest houses are unauthorized.
The modus operandi was that over three-fourth of the land was used for farming, while a small portion was used to build these mud huts with hay roofs.
Apparently, the guest house owners are networked with the touts and safari drivers. “The safari driver comes to their guest house to pick up the guest and the owners keeps tabs on the location of the lions,” said a senior officer.
Incidentally, after the poaching incident last year, the state government officials cracked down on such guest houses. Talala mamlatdar, Ami Doshi said, “After the poaching incidents, we had cracked down on such guest houses and found that these guest houses were operating on agricultural land without entertainment licences.”
Officials said that, to build such guest houses, it was essential to convert the agricultural land into a non-agricultural land, and then utilize the same for commercial purposes, but in the name of the farm houses these guest houses were operating illegally without any check.