Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tourists flock to Gir sanctuary on opening day of season

Tourists flock to Gir sanctuary on opening day of season
The Times of India

Dekho dekho kaun aaya? Sher dekhne India aaya! The first day of the opening of the Gir sanctuary saw a historic rise in number of people from all over the country thronging the Gir National Park to have a dekko at the king of jungle — the Asiatic lion.

As many as 1,785 people visited Gir - double the number last year - on the day the park was opened for visitors post-monsoon on Wednesday. On October 16 last year, when the sanctuary reopened, about 935 people had visited the park.

Abdul Kadir, a businessman from Kolkata came all the way to spendEid holiday with the Asiatic lion. He spotted six lioness and cubs in the Kardi in Gir sanctuary. "I booked online and would have gone back happy had I spotted even one lion." Officials said the major attraction among tourists were the five cubs who are in lodged Devalia interpretation zone. It was during the wildlife celebrations that the forest department had named the male cubs as Shardul, Yuvraj and Vanraj, while the female cubs will be identified as Heer and Mallika.

Another tourist, Mahendra Garg, said, "We had relatives from Kerala who had come to visit Dwarka and Somnath. We decided to visit Gir first and were lucky to sight two lionesses. It was a great experience to see lions in the green as the forest is still lush because of the extended monsoon." Local guide Hitesh Solanki said that he has never seen such a rush in his 13-year-long stint here. According to conservator of forest, R L Meena, the Amitabh Bachchan campaign has played a major role in increasing the tourist flow.

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