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Exciting Comeback: Sanjay Gandhi National Park Tiger Safari Roars Back to Life After 5-Year Closure

In a heart-pounding moment for wildlife enthusiasts, the much-anticipated return of the tiger safari at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai has finally come to fruition after a five-year hiatus. State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar officially reopened the gates on Wednesday, marking the end of a closure that began five years ago when a chain link fence incident compelled the shutdown of the 20-hectare safari area, limiting access to a mere one hectare.

The revival, undertaken at a cost of ₹5.5 crore, promises an enhanced safari experience with new cages, a crawl space, and the introduction of primary and secondary safari zones. The tiger enclosure now houses five female tigers, including a juvenile, and two male tigers. The expansive 20-hectare space mirrors the tigers’ native habitat, creating a more natural and immersive environment. The park, initially opened to visitors in 1998, is set to deliver an unparalleled encounter with these magnificent creatures.

Recognizing the plight of abandoned leopards in metropolitan areas and those turned maneaters, the forest service is seeking approval to establish a 20-hectare leopard safari within SGNP.

According to a Hindustan Times article, State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has also introduced six 30-passenger electric vehicles for safari and excursions to Kanheri Caves. Departing from the SNGP main gate, these vehicles, along with five buggies, were generously donated by the National High-Speed Rail Corporation, which utilized a portion of Tungareshwar forest and SGNP for the bullet train project. An additional nine buses are expected to arrive shortly as part of the second installment.

While one male and one female lion currently grace the lion safari, SGNP officers are actively involved in its refurbishment. The Central Zoo Authority of India (CZMA) has urged the state forest department to expand the safari to a total of 20 hectares from its existing 12-hectare footprint to meet CZMA regulations. To bolster the lion population, the state forest department is acquiring one more pair of lions from Gujarat for the safari, ensuring a thriving and regulated wildlife experience at Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

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