Vadodara: With a view to inform people about legal provisions pertaining to protection of Asiatic lions, the forest department of Gujarat has launched a `Sinha Rath` (lion chariot) from Sasan Gir in Junagadh to be taken across 130 villages to spread awareness about wildlife conservation.
The awareness drive was launched on Sunday amid reports of deaths of five Asiatic lions in last 15 days.
"It is a modified jeep with flax banners listing dos and don`ts with respect to lions. A loudspeaker has been mounted on the vehicle which plays a pre-recorded audio message asking villagers to support conservation of lions," Deputy Conservator of Forests, Gir (East Division) Anshuman Sharma told PTI.
The vehicle will pass through 130 odd villages located on the Gir East forest division border and create awareness about wildlife and legal provisions, he said.
Forest department staff members accompanying the vehicle have been interacting with villagers to emphasise the need to protect Asiatic lions, he said.
The Gir National Park and wildlife sanctuary which is spread over 1,412 square kilometres, is well known as the remaining habitat of Asiatic lions, which also has a large leopard population.
The sanctuary also has a thriving population of sambar and spotted deer, chinkara gazelle, neelgai and chowsingha, the world`s only four-horned antelope.