The state forest department is planning to have another safety layer for the lion enclosure in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The decision comes a week after Shobha, a four-year-old lioness, killed a guard who forgot to shut the trapdoor.
Forest officials are planning to install a mechanised wire-mesh gate in the lion enclosure. The advantage is that guards would no longer need to step into the enclosure to operate the gates. “We are trying to get something that could be operated by the push of a button. The specifics details are likely to be ready by May end,” said Pandurang Munde, director of the national park.
Currently, the lions have two large enclosures, sprawled across 30 acres and a huge park with a pond and a rock face, where they are let loose during the day.
On April 21, Harishchandra Gimbal, forgot to shut the gates of the inner enclosure after the last lion safari bus had left. A report by the forest department blamed Gimbal for being overconfident in handling the enclosure gates. Officials said that the incident took place because the deceased watchman was careless. The lion safari attracts more than 10,000 visitors every day.
Wildlife experts had mixed reactions on the move. “It is a good measure but the forest department should conduct frequent refresher training courses for the guards,” said a wildlife expert requesting anonymity.
Bittu Sehgal, editor, Sanctuary magazine, criticised the idea.
“Guards should be patrolling the park to stop forest fires instead of manning gates of a safari,” he said. “The Park (being a catchment area) is crucial for the city’s water requirement. Efforts should be towards saving it instead of amusement activities,”Sehgal added.