Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gir National Park to remain close for tourists in monsoon

Gir National Park to remain close for tourists in monsoon
Times of India

Gir National Park, the only home to Asiatic lions, will remain closed for tourists during the monsoon season owing to the breeding of wild cats and conservation efforts being undertaken at the sanctuary, forest officials said.

"Its ( Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary) closing is being done to provide some privacy to wild animals like lions, leopards and birds like peacocks etc during their mating season as four months of monsoon period are considered the best for their breeding season," Divisional forest officer, Gir national park and wild life sanctuary, Sandeep Kumar said.

The Gir sanctuary, located at Sasan in Junagadh district, is only home to pure Asiatic lions and attracts a large number of tourists.

"Since we supervise the conservation efforts, we want to prevent any disturbance which could also be caused by the tourists," Kumar said, adding that the park would remain closed from June 16 and will reopen in October after the monsoon season is over.

As per the 2010 census, the total number of lions in Gir sanctuary are 411 from 359 in 2005. With a total area of 1412 square km the park is considered as safe haven for lions and other species.

"It is also a natural habitat for leopards and antelopes like sambar, spotted deer, blue bull, black buck, and wild boar, jackal, hyena, langoors, porcupine, bear, crocodiles and over 250 species of birds," Kumar said.

Justifying to keep the park closed during the monsoon season, he said, "The roads get damaged during monsoon and need to be repaired. Moreover, we have to monitor the movement of wild animals during rains and in case of heavy rain we have to chalk out a rescue plan," Kumar said.

In addition, if big cats fall sick, we have to make arrangements for their treatment, he added.

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