Lion safaris start in Gir however poor vacationer response a trigger for concern

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Written by Gopal B Kateshiya
| Rajkot |

October 22, 2020 6:01:14 am

Tourists watch Asiatic lions throughout a safari contained in the Gir forest on Monday. (Express Photo)THOUGH THE Gir sanctuary and two safari parks inside it have opened to vacationers after a really lengthy interval, vacationer footfall is but to choose up and forest officers say that let slots even for Diwali festivities are but to be booked. The poor starting to the season has residents of Sasan, the village surrounded by forest who rely on tourism to earn their livelihood frightened.
The tourism zone contained in the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (GNPWS) opened to the vacationers on October 16 after an early closure on March 21 this yr. Gir Interpretation Zone, Devaliya, popularly often known as Devaliya safari park in Gir (west) wildlife division near Sasan and Ambardi safari park in Gir (east) wildlife division near Dhari in Amreli district, had opened on October 1 after closing their gates to vacationers as a result of Covid-19 lockdown which had begun in Gujarat on March 21 this yr.
“The response has been lukewarm so far this year. Less than 500 safaris have happened in these three tourism places since the season began. Till yesterday, permits were available even for Diwali festivities days,” Dushyant Vasavada, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle, mentioned.
Usually, vacationer footfall stays the very best throughout Diwali festivities in October-November and in the course of the summer time holidays in faculties in April-May. But this yr, the height of summer time was misplaced to the lockdown and allow reserving evn for Diwali, which falls on November 14 this yr, is but to choose up.
“…people may be preferring to remain indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. …we are now allowing entry to children below 10 years of age as well as elderly. Now that restrictions on tourists of certain age groups have been lifted, we might see an uptick in the number of visitors,” Vasavada additional mentioned.
In regular instances, the 2 safari parks stay open to vacationers around the yr, whereas safaris contained in the GNPWS are allowed from October 16 to June 15. The sanctuary stays closed to vacationers in the course of the monsoon. Last yr, 5.23 lakh vacationers had visited Gir forest to see Asiatic lions.
Forest division has quota of 150 vacationer permits per day. However, lower than 10 per cent of them are being booked as of late. “We are seeing around five safaris in the morning and an equal number in the evening. In all, about 75 safaris have departed from Sasan from the day the sanctuary gates were opened to the tourists. People are just not turning up as yet,” mentioned Khimji Sandera, president of Gipsy Owners Association (GOA), Sasan, an organisation of householders of vacationer gypsies, mentioned.
Sasan, a village in Junagadh taluka, is the headquarters of GNPWS and its residents rely closely on tourism for incomes their livelihood. “…Many of our members have purchased gypsies by availing bank loans and for want to tourists they are finding it difficult to pay even their bank instalments,” Sandera mentioned.
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