The forest department ordered an inquiry after photographs of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja having got down from his vehicle in Gir forest and posing along with lions went viral on Thursday. Forest officials had recently advised tourists and locals against taking selfies with lions to discourage them from getting dangerously close to the wild animal and putting their lives at risk.
The cricketer, who is a native of Jamnagar district, was at Sasan Gir in Junagadh district on Tuesday and Wednesday. He went on a lion safari with his wife Riva, but during the visit, he and his wife reportedly got down from the vehicle and clicked photographs with a pride of lions. He also clicked selfies with fans and some forest guards.
As these photographs started circulating on the social media, the forest department ordered an inquiry. “Gir National Park and Sanctuary (GNPS) is a protected forest, and tourists are not allowed to get down from vehicles while inside the jungle. But, pictures showing the cricketer having got down from vehicle in the jungle and having taken selfies with lions are circulating on the social media. Even some forest guards are seen with him in photographs. Therefore, we have ordered the GNPS superintendent to conduct an inquiry into the incident and file a report,” Aniruddh Pratap Singh, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle, told The Indian Express.
Incidentally, GNPS closed down for tourists on Wednesday for its annual monsoon break. The sanctuary will reopen on October 15 after the four-month break.
“We have come to know that Jadeja got down from vehicle and took selfies with lions. Two range forest officers also happened to be in that part of the jungle at that time. We are looking into the incident and it is difficult at this juncture to tell what offence is made out against him. But, merely getting down in the sanctuary is an offence,” GNPS superintendent Ram Ratan Nala. The CCF, meanwhile, said no time frame for inquiry was given as the superintendent was busy with other work.
Despite repeated attempts, Jadeja could not be reached for comment.
This is second incident within three months wherein the cricketer has been in the news for off-the-field incidents. His relative was earlier booked for allegedly firing in the air in celebration at the wedding procession of Jadeja at a hotel in Rajkot.