More wild magic is going to enchant visitors to the Statue of Unity at Kevadiya as the government has planned an open jungle safari for tourists close to the Sardar Patel statue.
People will be able to see lions and tigers in the open, much like a mini national park, albeit with greater frequency and density.
The picturesque valley of Satpura and Vindhyachal hill ranges are already endowed with lush green natural forests suitable for a wide range of flora and fauna, including the big cats.
Sources said the proposed safari will be double the size of the existing one, which is spread over 375 acres and also houses a geodesic dome aviary.
The forest department, which is developing the project, has sought expertise from the Greens Zoological Rescue And Rehabilitation Kingdom, an NGO run by Reliance Industries Ltd.
The safari is being developed on the lines of Devaliya in Gir as an open zoo wherein tigers and lions will move around freely in a natural habitat. Tourists can either take a bus ride or open jeep to see the animals. Two pairs of tigers will be zoo-bred and brought here under animal exchange programme from some other zoos in exchange for lions.
“Once the land is acquired, the forest department will prepare a proposal and send it to the Central Zoo Authority of India. For lions, we only need to shift two pairs with four cubs from Sakkarbaug Zoo, a breeding facility for the felines,” an official said.
Officials in the Statue of Unity area Development and Tourism Governance Authority (SoUADTGA) said that over 700-acre land acquisition process for the project had started.
This open safari will come up near Nagatpuri Kothi village, 10km off Kevadiya. The decision for open safari near Kevadiya was taken in 2018 but dropped in 2022 after the jungle safari became operational. The forest department wanted to shift open safari for tigers near Jhankhana and Jobari villages in Dang on 29 hectares that was earlier earmarked for a leopard safari.