Gir grasslands may be next tourist hot spot!
The Times Of India
Adventure freaks backpacking to Savannahs in Africa or Prairies in the US won't have to go such long distances in search of grasslands.
Gir, the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world, is set to emerge as a sprawling grassland with the forest department reviving huge tracts of barren land by growing grass in massive quantity.
Besides being an attraction for tourists, grasslands play an important part in the forest ecosystem as they become the natural habitat of lions and herbivorous animals.
Lion families easily get their food due to presence of herbivours in the grasslands.
Forest department figures show that in the last 30 years average grass production in this region was 64.4 lakh kg per hectare, which has gone up 285% to 180 lakh kg per year in 2017-18 in the last three years, mostly in Junagadh and Bhavnagar districts where lions are seen in big numbers.
S K Mehta, chief conservator of forest (CCF), Junagadh circle, said, "Gir has the potential to become India's most famous grassland. The land in this region traditionally produces best quality grass. As it is rocky, there is not much scope for sowing crops."
Flourishing grasslands can help mitigate the fodder scarcity that surfaces every year during summer or delayed rainfall. In fact, the state government had to import one crore kg grass from other states in 2015 and 2016. The grass produced on 32,596 hectares in 82 reserved grasslands is not for auction and has to be delivered in the scarcity-affected ares. The grass produced in non-reserved areas is sold through auction every year.
The forest department has also started producing grass using irrigation on 300 hectare area by sprinkling water from wells after monsoon. The production by irrigation method yields 10,000 kg per hectare. "We have special warehouse where we procure this grass, which can be used for three years." said Mehta.