November 01: As Steve Irwin rightly said, “We Don’t Own the Planet Earth, We Belong to It, and We Must Share It With Our Wildlife.” It is important to protect and conserve wildlife so that the ecological balance of nature remains intact. The Indian Government is taking various steps towards the protection, conservation, and promoting Asiatic Lions, and so is Mr. Parimal Nathwani. A man who dedicated his life to the ‘King of the Gir Forest’.
Lions are the finest and rarest creation of Mother Nature. It is said that the lion’s footfall results in the growth of that place. In Indian history and mythology, the lion is given a special place. It symbolizes strength, courage, and leadership, and thus it is also said to be the Vahana (vehicle) of Goddess of power, Maa Durga. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna has termed himself as Mrigraj. At the same time, the throne of King is called SINHANSAN, and the National Emblem of India, the Ashok Stambh, is also a pillar with four Asiatic Lions. Thus, Mr. Nathwani has been working for the protection of such a rare and precious species for the past 35 years.
“I feel that lions are not just animals; they are my family! I love them. It’s my duty to protect, promote and conserve lions and gir forests as much as I can. Watching lions makes me recharged” says Parimal Nathwani, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) & Director Corporate Affairs, RIL
The wildlife conservation enthusiast and Rajya Sabha members’ journey began when there were no transportation facilities available in the Gir region. His passion for lions attracted him so much that he used to travel 215 km from his native Jamkhambhaliya to Gir forest. Since then, he has been taking up various issues to protect the LIONS of the GIR forest with the help of forest officials, trackers, maldharis, and the people of the area. He started his mission 35 years ago without any assistance, and he persistently persuaded himself and the locals to work towards the betterment of the Gir forest and its pride “LIONs”.
His concern over the fatal deaths of the Lion due to train and vehicle accidents, falling in open well enlightened him for working towards the betterment of the royal lion-king. He, along with Reliance Group of Industries, covered thousands of open wells with grills on all four sides preventing accidents during the nighttime. In addition, they are soon opening a new lion hospital with state-of-the-art infrastructure and a well-qualified team of doctors for protecting the lion family. He praised the Gujarat government and Prime Minister of India for their continuous efforts and support for Gir forest and its Pride- The Lions!
“The department has already shared a list of wells with us. We will work out an estimate and begin work within a fortnight,” says Parimal Nathwani, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) & Director Corporate Affairs, RIL
Extending his knowledge to others, he educated the locals to ensure the ecosystem between the lions and humankind is maintained. He believes that the Asiatic lions are royal in nature and are friendlier with humankind compared to the African lions who tend to attack humans more and that the locals, Maldhari, and tracker play a pivotal role in managing and expanding the Gir forest and the wellbeing of the lions.
“Trackers are the heart of Gir forest. They take care of everything about lions and inform forest officials and doctors whenever there is a causality,” says Parimal Nathwani, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) & Director Corporate Affairs, RIL
As lions are now extending their area and have now become part of the 7 districts of Gujarat, he suggests that lions should be given more space to grow and natural food to survive, for which more efforts need to be made.
Mr. Parimal Nathwani shares all his 35 Years of experience in his book “GIR LION—PRIDE OF GUJARAT; in continuation to attract tourism in Gir forest, he also developed a ‘GIR Gallery’ at Ahmedabad International airport to create awareness about the rare species –the lion.
“Upgrading existing hospitals with new infrastructure is the need of the hour as it would help the department to provide the best treatment to injured or sick lions. Three sites including the extension of Sasan hospital have already been identified for this.”- says Parimal Nathwani, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) & Director Corporate Affairs, RIL
Being a parliamentarian, time and again, he has raised concerns in parliament about conservations of the LION and expansion of Gir forest for natural habitat for lions, his efforts are now producing results, and the government is extending support to his mission as result to which today, GIR National Park is not just Pride of Gujarat, but Pride of entire India.