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Visitors denied safari rides for want of a bus

Visitors denied safari rides for want of a bus
Highlights

Visitors to Nehru Zoological Park have been kept away from the Lion Safari for over a year for want for safari bus. After a bus broke down on ill-fated November 16, 2014 inside the Safari Park leaving 30 visitors stranded with the big lion just a few metres away, the safari rides have been put on hold. All the visitors had a miraculous escape, so to say. 

Hyderabad: Visitors to Nehru Zoological Park have been kept away from the Lion Safari for over a year for want for safari bus. After a bus broke down on ill-fated November 16, 2014 inside the Safari Park leaving 30 visitors stranded with the big lion just a few metres away, the safari rides have been put on hold. All the visitors had a miraculous escape, so to say.

Thankfully nothing tragic happened. What is ironical is in spite of budgetary sanctions, the authorities are unable to get a replacement vehicle for the safari rides. If not for the mundane approach and the excuse of maintaining status quo, the safari rides would have begun long time back, rued a former director of the zoo.

He insists that all that is needed is a bit of effort and the will to get things done. The popularity of the safari is of such a high order that a majority of those visiting the zoo invariably prefer to undertake the exciting 4.5 km ride in the almost natural forest setting that houses the safari.

On an average, 30 lakh visitors visit the zoo every year. When the trips were in use, each of the four buses carried 24 to 30 visitors on each ride. Today, the animal keeper Balraj sits idle all day long keeping a watch on the tigers inside the Safari area.

In terms of revenue lost, the figure would be hell of an amount. The money could have helped meet the cost of the food that is given to the animals. Each wild cat is fed with 8 kg of meat every day. In all, the zoo has 24 tigers and 23 lions. The zoo is losing Rs 35,000 every day for the past 12 months.

When the safari was in service, four buses would carry 24-30 people by charging Rs 25 per person. Each bus made 14 trips a day. On an average, the zoo is losing out on Rs 9 lakh revenue per month. When asked about the delay in buying new vehicles, zoo director G Chandrasekhar Reddy said, “Four customised 21-seater CNG run mini buses at a cost of Rs 64 lakh have been ordered.

The safari expeditions will resume once the vehicles arrive, tentatively around March 31.”Meanwhile, indications are that while lion and tiger safari is to be expanded, the bison and bear safari faces imminent closure.

Animal lovers feel that by excluding the bison and bear safari, the visitors would be robbed of watching more animals while moving in a vehicle. “Making available an entire range of excitement is why people visit the 380-acre zoo,” said Zervan, a frequent visitor.

Authorities say that the lukewarm response to tenders and the failure to rope in the previous contractor who had promised to introduce new vehicles led to the delay.According to highly- placed sources, the safari service would be run by the zoo management itself this time around.

However, drivers of the battery-operated cars at the zoo are a skeptical lot and on condition of anonymity reveal that several cars were not in use for want of repairs.

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