Two more lion safari parks to be opened by March '19
The Times Of India
Junagadh: Next year onwards there would be much more than just booze in your vacation to Diu! Just about 40 km on the way to Gujarat's favourite watering hole and vacation destination, tourists will get to see Asiatic lions from a close distance.
The forest department is planning to develop two more safari parks — one in Chikhalkuba near Diu and another in Chorvadala near Sihore in Bhavnagar district. The new safari parks are being planned considering the spread of this endangered species out of the protected areas of Gir National Park and Sanctuary.
At present, visitors can watch lions in Devalia Interpretation Zone besides Gir jungle trail in Sasan. The safari park in Chorwadala will not only have lions, but also other wildlife like black bucks, leopards and spotted deer. Currently, nearly 5 lakh tourists visit Sasan and Devalia park every year and two new options could reduce the load in these parks.
To reach Chikhalkuba, one has travel 15 km inside from the main road, leading to Diu via Una in Gir Somnath district. The department had floated the idea of Chikhalkuba Safari Park in 2014, but the project was stalled due to some litigations. The department has revived the plan and aims to complete it by March 2019. The safari parks are also aimed at curbing the flourishing illegal lion show business, which has embarrassed the state government.
Chief conservator of forest (CCF), wildlife circle, D T Vasavada told TOI: "We have got an in-principle approval for Chikhalkuba park and even constructed an interpretation zone. We will take a legal opinion and if required, high court's permission to develop it by March 2019. This will also ease the burden on Sasan."
Chikhalkuba will be developed on the lines of Sasan, where tourists will be issued the online permits and allowed to go inside only in a gypsy with the forest department team member. The safari park in Chorvadala village will be developed on the lines of Ambardi and Devalia parks. This park will be developed in more than 100 hectares area that will be fenced.
Chief conservator of forest, Junagadh circle, S K Mehta said, "We have the project report ready and received an in-principle go ahead. We have sent requisition for revenue land for this project and as soon we get it, we will start the work."