Besides managing the tourists in the sanctuary, the decision is also aimed at breaking the flourishing nexus between some trackers and a few Gypsy drivers that used to result in large number of vehicles crowding at the same spot where lions were seen in good numbers.
"No guides, trackers and gypsy drivers are allowed to take mobile phones with them when they enter the sanctuary with tourists. The objective is to manage the tourists' zones in a way that they don't disturb lions in their natural habitats. We have received good response from this new initiative,'' said Ram Ratan Nala, deputy conservator of forests, wildlife division, Sasan-Gir.
Officials said that there were several instances when guides would contact trackers to know the location of lions in tourists' zone and several Gypsys would gather at one spot. This would naturally disturb the lions as they were surrounded by so many vehicles and chances of human-lion conflict would be more.
The sanctuary is witnessing an unprecedented influx of tourists. In just seven days from October 30 to November 6, 50,368 tourists visited the Devaliya Interpretation Zone while 6,835 visited the sanctuary. The department is issuing 90 permits daily to visit the sanctuary. There are 20 trackers inside tourists' zone and eight tourist routes in the sanctuary.
"All 150 Gypsy vehicles are now enabled with Global Positioning System (GPS) and it provides real-time monitoring of vehicles and its speed. The mobile ban will only strengthen our vigilance. We have ensured that no vehicle should run on more than 20 km per hour and they do not assemble in large numbers at one spot'' Nala added.