Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fire in Gir lion sanctuary

A fire broke out in a sanctuary near the lion haven of Gir yesterday, but officials who put out the blaze after 12 hours said the animals were safe.
“There are no reports of any animal casualties in Mitiyala,” said Gujarat principal secretary (forest) S.K. Nanda, referring to the Amreli district sanctuary that is home to six to eight lions. Gir and Mitiyala are only 6km apart.
Nanda said it took more than 300 firefighters to put out the blaze that began around 3 last afternoon.…Amreli wildlife activist Amit Jethwa said such fires had become common this time of the year, when temperatures rise and strong winds sweep the arid land. “The authorities should properly investigate the fire, which has become a regular phenomenon.”
The fires are being seen since 2004, when the Mitiyala grassland spread over 18sqkm was declared a sanctuary, Jethwa said. Mitiyala is a corridor for the Asiatic lions on their way to Palitana, a part of Gir.