AHMEDABAD: Gujarat forest department has advised tourists and locals against taking "selfie with lions" to discourage them from getting dangerously close to the wild animal and putting their lives at risk, an official said.
"The forest department has found growing trend of people risking their lives by taking selfie with lions in forest areas. They do so out of excitement to share these photos on social media platforms to garner praise," Chief Conservator of Forest, wildlife crime, S P Sisodia, said.
Considering this increasing trend, we have advised tourists and locals to refrain from doing so and if they are caught doing so, they will be punished as per the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1971, he said.
"To take a selfie, you will have to go close to the lion, which is dangerous. Apart from posing a risk, it is also against the legal povisions and can attract punitive action from the department. We are only reinterpreting the law looking at the latest trend," he said.
The forest department has recently come across several instances in which villagers were killed or injured by lions.
As per the census conducted by the forest department last year, the population of lions in Gir has seen a rise.
The census put the total number of the felines in the state at 523, up from 411 lions counted in 2010. They are found in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, a major tourist attraction.
Recently, three persons, including a 14-year-old boy, and a woman, were killed by lions in separate incidents.