Forest officials in Dangs are searching for a new location for the leopard safari park announced in Vaghai, Dangs, where officials say, sighting of animals will be difficult due to tall trees and long bushes.
Officials have so far explored three locations near Saputara Hill, a popular destination for tourists from Gujarat and Maharashtra.
In 2020, the state government announced two leopard safari parks and rescue centres in South Gujarat — one at Khodamba village in Mandvi taluka, Surat, and the second near the botanical garden at Vaghai taluka in Dangs.
Recently, the plan was put on hold on orders from officials in Gandhinagar who directed them to identify a new location.
Dangs (South) Deputy Cons-ervator of Forests, Nilesh Pandya, said, “The reason behind cance-lling the proposal to have the leopard safari park at Vaghai was that it has tall trees and long bushes… leopards can easily climb on trees, while in the long bushy areas it is difficult to sight them. We have seen three locations in the nearby Saputara and are working on it. We will prepare a report and send to Gandhinagar for approval. Will begin work and float tenders once we get the green signal from the state government.”
Spread over 32 hectares, the leopard safari park at Vaghai was estimated to cost Rs 20 crore. There were plans to have an administrative building, veterinary hospital, fencing from all sides, four watchtowers and a five-metre wide road to take tourists on safari bus.
Deputy Conservator of Forests, Surat, Puneet Nayyar, said, “At Mandvi, we have got the funds from the government and fencing work on 50 hectares of land will begin in the next six to seven days. Leopards that are old and have mobility issues, or disabled in accidents will be kept in this park.”
As per the 2016 census, there were around 54 leopards in Dangs and 35 leopards in Surat. The leopard population went up in recent years but the actual figure will come up after the 2021 census, according to forest officials.