As the state stares at a rain deficit, the staff at Gir Sanctuary have been performing havan to please the rain gods. Some of them have also been keeping fast to ensure timely and adequate rain.
The rain deficit in the state may also leave the King of the jungle and Gujarat’s pride parched. Ever since the rainy season began, Gir has received just 60 mm of rainfall.
The jungle wears a green look these days, say officials but the situation may not be so green if rains fail.
“The rains have been very erratic. So far the monsoon has been able to wet just 6 to 10 cm of the top soil. This has ensured that there is greenery in the forest but all this could take a turn for the worse if the monsoon fails,” said a forest department official.
The official also said that this could lead to a scarcity of water in the forest. “Usually by mid-July, the small streams and rivulets inside Gir are in full flow but, this year, this is yet to happen,” said the official.
Another expert who has seen the terrain from close quarters said a good rain means water will be available in natural water sources like ponds and rivulets for a long time, thus negating the need for forest department officials to refill manmade watering holes. Even the water levels in the four dams in Gir are at the minimum mark.
“If the rains fail, the water level in the dams will fall leading to scarcity of water for irrigation and for animals as well,” said an official. Chief conservator of forest, wildlife, Jungadh, RL Meena, when contacted said that at present the sanctuary had enough water to meet its needs.“If rains fail, the effect will be seen everywhere and it will not be any different for Gir. But at this point in time there is no need to worry. “
“The water level is adequate and so far there has not been a need to manually fill the watering holes,” said Meena. He said some of the staff at the sanctuary had also been holding havan to propitiate the rain gods. On the water-level in dams, he said as of now there was nothing to worry about. It should be noted that Junagadh, where the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is located, has so far received scanty rainfall.