SISTERS TAKE 'PRIDE' IN GIR
The women of Gujarat sent rakhis to the 'King of the Jungle' on Raksha Bandhan in a novel campaign by the Forest Department meant to spread the message of lion conservation. The good news is that women around the country can still have a Gir lion as their brother because even though the festival of Raksha Bandhan is over, the Forest Department has decided to receive rakhis till August-end.
On Thursday, hundreds of women in Sasan Gir, the last abode of the Asiatic Lion, prayed for the protection
However, as it was not possible to tie rakhis to the lions, the forest officials decided to tie the rakhis to their cages at the Sasan Gir Rescue Centre.
The women also applied tilak on the poster of a lion and placed their rakhis in front of it at the Deputy Conservator's office. Some women also performed aarti (prayers) for the longevity of the lions in Gir.
Panthera Leo Persica, better known as the Asiatic Lion, exists only in Gujarat's Gir forest and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Endangered list.
This unique initiative was the brainchild of the State's forest department and was part of its efforts to create awareness among the people, especially schoolchildren, on the urgent need to save Asiatic Lions. Hence, the department made an appeal to schools across the State to send rakhis for lions.
"The response was encouraging as we received hundreds of rakhis from schoolgirls and women, not only from Gir but across the State. It served our purpose of creating awareness among the people," said a forest official involved in the initiative.
From time to time the State's forest department takes up different initiatives to create awareness on lion conservation. It celebrated World Lion Day on August 10 and four big rallies covering more than 1,500 villages were held.As per the last census, there are 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir and surrounding areas. In fact, over the past decade, the population of lions in Gujarat has increased substantially due to the Gujarat Government's efforts to conserve the endangered species