After Sasan, second lion safari coming up at Girnar
The Times of India
AHMEDABAD: Tourists will soon be able to go on lion safari in the Girnar forest, on lines similar to those organised in Sasan Gir. Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday announced that a lion safari will soon be started in Girnar for tourists to watch the Asiatic lions.
Rupani, along with his family, offered prayers to Ambamata and Surapura temple at Chanaka village in Bhesan taluka of Junagadh district. He later announced that the state government had made all preparations and the safari area will be opened within three months after obtaining approvals from the Union government. The new forest is being started under the Forest Area Tourism project. He also announced that the Dhari Safari Park will also be operational soon.
Officials in the forest department said that the state tourism department wants to start safari within the Girnar sanctuary. Like the Sasan Gir safari, tourists will be able to go inside the sanctuary. The department will issue permits to tourists who would be taken inside the forest to see the lions from an open jeep.
However, the government will have to seek approval from the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife and then from the National Board itself. If cleared, this would be the second such safari within about 60 km distance from Sasan.
Officials in the forest department said that the tourism department wants to attract tourists coming for pilgrimage to the Girnar mountain. According to tourism officials, Mount Girnar is the highest point in Gujarat and, for centuries, has been one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the state with 866 Hindu and Jain temples.
Officials said that the tourism department is promoting the new safari site stating that this would reduce the burden on Sasan Gir. However, a senior officer said on the condition of anonymity that the site was not suitable for tourists as there are only 33 lions in the sanctuary according to the May 2015 census.
The tourism department has proposed two routes by which the jeeps can enter the sanctuary. This would mean that at one time there would be four jeeps that would be permitted to enter the forest area.
Officials said that the Ambardi park in Dhari is ready and is awaiting approval from the central zoo authority of India. Once this is obtained, the sanctuary, which is fenced, will be opened for tourists. However, Amabardi will house zoo bread lions.