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Yogi govt boost for ‘Akhilesh Project’: Etawah Lion Safari set to get more Guj lions

The Uttar Pradesh government is planning to bring more lions from Gujarat for the safari.

lucknow Updated: Nov 21, 2017 11:35 IST
Gaurav Saigal
Gaurav Saigal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Yogi government,BJP,Lucknow
Plans are afoot to bring two lions and three lionesses for the safari.(Pic for representation)

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s dream and Akhilesh Yadav’s pet project – Etawah Lion Safari – is set to get a boost from the Yogi government.

The Uttar Pradesh government is planning to bring more lions from Gujarat for the safari.

In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Gujarat lions at the safari had become a political issue when they figured in the speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as they took a dig at each other over the lions.

Speaking to HT, Rupak Dey, principal chief conservator of forests, Uttar Pradesh, said, “We are trying to bring more lions for the safari from Gujarat.”

Mulayam Singh had conceived the idea for the lion safari in 2005, when he was UP chief minister. In April 2015 then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had roped in the world’s ‘Zoo Man’ Bernard Harrison Bernard and his partner Tina Lim Long – the ones who had designed the wondrous Singapore Zoo and the Singapore Night Safari – for expert advice on the Etawah safari.

Head of the Etawah safari PP Singh said efforts were being made to bring two lions and three lionesses this time. However, one lion and two lionesses could possibly be spared for the safari.

The first two pairs of Asiatic lions were brought there (from Gujarat) in April 2014. Three lionesses, two lions and five cubs have died in the safari due to illness since 2014, which is a key reason for delay in launch of the project.

“As a precaution, we will go for proper medical check-up of the animals before bringing them. We are in talks with three different zoos to get the animals,” Singh said.

The safari was planned on 350 hectares of land, of which 50 hectares are the core area and the rest 300 hectares are in the buffer zone. The uniqueness of this safari lies in the fact that people will move in caged paths to see the lions and other animals moving freely.

The forest department is trying to get the lions from Gujarat’s Rajkot zoo, where these lions are found.

As survival of the lions being brought from Gujarat has been a big challenge – as a few died of canine distemper disease in Etawah – the forest officials are in consultation with experts to make sure the beasts remain fit in the breeding centres. “The aim is -- no more deaths or diseases,” said another officer.

Permission has been sought from the central zoo authority to get the lions and once approved, a team from Uttar Pradesh will visit Gujarat to fetch the animals.

First Published: Nov 21, 2017 11:35 IST