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Home > News > PTI

Newborn lion cubs attract more tourists to Gir sanctuary

October 30, 2003 09:22 IST

Gir Lion Sanctuary, the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions in the world, has been attracting a large number of tourists this year following the addition of about 40 to 70 newborn cubs.

"Since the sanctuary (in Gujarat) was reopened for tourists from October 15, after being closed for four months from June 15, we have had a large number of tourists from India and abroad," Gir's Deputy Chief Conservator of Forest Bharat Pathak told PTI on Wednesday.

The sanctuary remains closed for four months due to several reasons, including monsoon, bad road conditions and importantly - breeding season of the wild animals.

Last year, in the post-Godhra riots atmosphere, tourist inflow had remained low with only 1,000 foreign tourists as against the regular 15,000, he said.

"However, this year, we are expecting about 100,000 visitors to the sanctuary, spread over more than 1,400sqkm," he said.

The census in May 2001 had put the lions' population between 322-332, which, Pathak admitted, was due to a large number of deaths in the past two years. However, the birth of around 70 cubs has helped increase their numbers.

Around 70 lions had died due to several reasons, including congestion in the forest area forcing lions to move into human habitats and large scale poaching.

The population of lions at Gir has been a cause of concern for the Gujarat government. To solve the problem of over-population, it is considering several steps, including setting up of a new sanctuary at nearby Mithiyala.

More reports from Gujarat
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