Monday, November 22, 2010

Asiatic lions to spend quieter evenings in Gir

Asiatic lions to spend quieter evenings in Gir
Times of India

If you thought you could take a shortcut through the Gir forest and breach the king of the jungle's privacy in the night, here's some news for you. The forest department, in keeping with the safety of the wild cats, especially the females, has decided to ban entry of vehicles on all roads within the sanctuary after sunset.

Principal secretary (forest and environment) SK Nanda said there were several roads passing through the sanctuary.

These roads were open even after sunset, so we have decided to close all of them soon after darkness. He also said that several speed breakers have been constructed on the road connecting Sasan and Talala. These breakers have been constructed at regular intervals to ensure that people are not driving above 40 km per hour speed.

Nanda said that these measures are being taken by the forest department with a view to provide adequate safety to the animals and also give them safe passage. Usually, the speed at which animals cross the road in the night is less than that of the speeding vehicles. So, there is always a fear of accidents taking place. It was to provide extra security to the animals that the move to close the roads after sunset has been taken. However, in case of emergencies, there will be no restrictions.

Not just villagers, even heavy vehicles traverse on some of these stretches, making a rattling noise and leaving behind clouds of smoke. In the last couple of years, there has been an increase in the inflow of visitors in the protected habitat. The sanctuary is spread over nearly 1,500 sq km and houses 298 lions according to the last census. In all, there are 411 lions in the Gir and the surrounding areas.

The sanctuary had turned into a virtual thoroughfare connecting Junagadh and Amreli. Not just the Visavadar-Dhari stretch, there are some 10 roads passing through the sanctuary. At least 600 vehicles pass through the Una-Talala and Dhari-Una stretches in the Gir every day. The traffic is nonstop even at night.

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