Rajkot, April 25 : The Rajasthan State government, forest department, NGOs and corporate companies in Sasan Gir have joined hands to prevent lions, cubs and leopards from falling in wells, by constructing parapet walls around them.
The Asiatic lions have been in news in the recent past due to widespread poaching incidents and their declining numbers. Many of them have fallen into wells and died.
In 2007, 24 animals fell into open wells and died.
Corporate companies like Reliance, Essar, Tata Chemicals and Amubja cement have come forward and started constructing parapet walls around the open wells in villages in the Sasan Gir Forest.
"The work has already started. The State government and forest department have taken up this project. We have received a very good response from few NGOs and corporate companies who have spent a good amount to money to finish the task at hand" said B. D. Patti, the head of the project in Junagadh.
"Nearly 1,200 such wells have been covered by the corporate houses and NGOs like Rajkot-based Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT). The State government has sanctioned 4,000 rupees per well. The rest of the expenses are borne by the concerned company. We hope to finish the project before 2009, "said Patti.
Amost 9,000 open wells are located in the farming land of the various farmers.
Villagers have agreed to help in the effort to prevent the Asiatic lions falling in their wells in fields.
"This is a good project undertaken by all. I have agreed for construction of parapets around open wells so that in future no animals fall in the open well. I feel very happy by this decision," said Ramesh bhai, a resident of Bhoj De Village.
Kaushik Bhai, another villager, said that he was happy that the construction is happening in his farm too. "Not just animals but sometimes even children used to fall in the open well so this has happen good for us also."
Sasan Gir is spread over a 1,400 square kilometer area and has over 800 villages in it. The main crops in the villages are mangoes, groundnuts and cotton. For water conservation farmers dig wells themselves. There are many open wells in the villages. .
It is a dry deciduous habitat for the lions, dominated by short and gnarled teak trees , thorn bushes and grassland.
Deepak Gajjar, a wild life lover and an active member of the Wildlife Conservation Trust, has designed protection around 800 such wells in the various villages.
"These are the wells which can not be sighted easily and panthers and cubs used to fall into them.. All of us have started doing this job jointly. Companies too have come forward and parapets around 1,200 such wells have been completed. In one month further 2000 wells will have protection and this effort will not only save the animals but also will reduce the work of the forest department, as they have to work hard to save the animals when fall into open wells," Gajjar said.