Samajwadi Party cub Akhilesh Yadav plans a lion safari in Etawah
Dailymail By AKASH VASHISHTHA
The Uttar Pradesh government has dusted off a 2006 plan to create a miniature version of South Africa's Kruger National Park, whose lion safari draws tourists like a magnet all year round.
Significantly, the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party dispensation has chosen a 50- hectare tract of land in Fisher Forest that lies in Mulayam Singh Yadav's citadel of Etawah. This would be the first ever such project in the state.
Government sources revealed that apart from serving as an attraction for backpackers, the safari will house a lion breeding centre of international standards to augment the captive population of the magnificent Asiatic lion in the country.
But wildlife experts expressed doubts about the viability of the UP government's ambitious plan.
Conservationist Ananda Banerjee observed: 'The first hurdle for the UP government would be procuring lions from its counterpart in Gujarat. The latter has submitted in the Supreme Court that it will not hand over lions to anyone. It refused the Madhya Pradesh government's request in this regard.'
The MP government was planning to establish a second independent population of Asiatic lions at the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, but the Gujarat dispensation rejected the idea. This despite both states being ruled by the BJP.
But the UP government appeared unfazed. 'Fisher Forest presents a rich habitat. The layout and master plan are being prepared by employing GIS technology,'
Agra divisional forest officer Dr Sujoy Bannerjee said. "A team led by Prof Vibhuti Rai of Lucknow University's geology department is drawing up a digital elevation model," he added.
The Samajwadi Party is planning a safari on the lines of Kruger park in Africa