3 National Parks, 22 Sanctuaries Neglected
Gir Forest National Park saw a record number of tourists’ roaring in after Famous Bollywood Actor Amitabh Bachhan exhorted people to visit the only abode of the Asiatic lion. However, a section of the Gujarat State Forest Department is not willing to join the euphoria triggered by Big B’s advertisement blitzkrieg.
The reason: They feel that the state’s three other national parks and 22 sanctuaries are still yearning for visitors. These include Marine National Park, home to breathtaking Corals, Kutch’s Wild Ass Sanctuary and Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary near Ahmadabad.
With Asiatic Lions grabbing the major chunk of attention, officials feel that other deserved wildlife abodes have been got a raw deal, in terms of budget and publicity. “Gujarat not only has Lions, but Leopards, Black Bucks, Wild Ass, Sloth Bears among others. However, when it comes to planning projects, the major focus is always the lions,” a top forest official told Times of India.
Marine National Park came into some limelight recently when an International Bird Watchers meet was held there. Officials note with dejection that Sanctuaries and National Parks other than Gir don’t get any importance while promoting tourism, leave alone budgetary allocation.
“The budgetary provision for lion conservation is itself so paltry, leave alone that for Sloth Bear, Black Buck arid Wild Ass,” they said. In the 2011-12 budgets, the state allocated Rs 12 crore for vigil and protection of the lions. Apart from that there was no provision for any other sanctuaries. An allocation of Rs. 60 lakh was for protection of wildlife in sanctuaries and national parks in scientific manner.