Monday, August 06, 2012

Gir to have second safari centre at Chikhalkoba

Gir to have second safari centre at Chikhalkoba
Daily Bhaskar

In an attempt to reduce the tourist burden on Sasan, and to tap the rise in visitors to the Gir Sanctuary, the forest department is planning to develop a tourist centre at Chikhalkoba, in Tulsishyam range. The range also has a sizeable number of lions.

The centre will host jeep safaris similar to the one being hosted at Sasan right now. Interestingly, the idea is also to tap the tourists, who often club together visit to places like Diu, Somnath, and Gir and for whom Sasan may prove to be too far.

"We are planning to come up with an orientation centre and will later have cottages and reception centre as well similar to the one at Sasan. With the new centre, tourists can take gypsy rides to Raval dam from where they can choose either to go on the Tulsishyam route or the Rajasthali route," said principal secretary, forest and environment, SK Nanda.

At present, safari to take tourists into the heart of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is only available at Sasan. These safaris take tourists to the forest area in the Sasan range alone. With the new centre, tourists will be able to explore forests in the Tulsishyam range as well. Tourists are allowed only to pass through the area and stop at the Tulsishyam temple right now. Nanda also said that given the rise in the number tourists to Gir, it was important that a new route be developed.

The plan is likely to materialise within a year or two. "On an average, around 1,000 people visit the sanctuary daily during the season. It was necessary to ensure that the rise in tourists did not end up disturbing the lions of a particular range. Moreover, with the further rise in tourists, there will be a rise in pollution level by way of dust and noise," said Nanda. With the setting up of a new centre, the forest department envisages to provide a livelihood to the locals living in the area. "With a new centre, locals in and around the Tulsishyam range in which Chikhalkoba falls, will get better employment opportunities," said Nanda.

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