Lion safari at Mattewara in limbo | punjab$ludhiana | Hindustan Times
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Lion safari at Mattewara in limbo

Conceived three years back, the lion safari at Mattewara forests touted as the most coveted project of the district wildlife department, is yet to see the light of the day.

punjab Updated: Oct 02, 2016 13:48 IST
Sumeer Singh

Conceived three years back, the lion safari at Mattewara forests touted as the most coveted project of the district wildlife department, is yet to see the light of the day. A development plan of 127 crore was submitted to the chief wildlife warden in 2014 to turn the 1,900-acre forest area into an exotic open safari (including lion safari). But thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities, the project is moving at snail’s pace and seems far from becoming a reality anytime soon.

The central zoo authority cited more than 10 clarifications before objecting to the lion safari. Among them were the possibility of encroachment in the area adjacent to the proposed lion safari where realtors have raised buildings, and the possibility of animals escaping through a drain inside the Mattewara forests.

Chief wildlife warden, Dhirendra Singh, did not share a fixed date for the project. He said, “We have worked out all possible modalities and the project is at its final stage. The lion safari shall be operational in a matter of months.”

Sources said the objections raised by zoo officials were a clear indication that the lion safari project could be delayed by three years. Divisional forest officer, Vishal Chauhan, claimed, “We have forwarded the detailed project report to the zoo authorities and the approval will come within a week. Thereafter, we will start with the infrastructure to be built around 125 acres of forest land. The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board will be taking up the construction for the project.

“We will procure a family of seven lions (including four cubs) from Gir National Park in Gujarat and the lion safari will start from July 2017,” said Chauhan.

Sandeep Jain, the Ludhiana representative of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said, “The ‘king of the jungle’ needs a sprawling land for habitation and unlike other animals, it needs special care and it takes a lot to create an environment conducive for a lion’s safety and dwelling. The wildlife authorities must focus on improving the tiger safari before ideating a lion safari.”