The monsoon closure is part of the management plan since it is the mating season for the wildlife

The Gir National Park — home to the Asiatic lion — will remain closed for the monsoon till October 15, forest officials said.

The forest was closed for tourists from Monday, a day after the monsoon arrived in Gujarat. “Like every year, forest activity is shut for tourists from June 15 to October 15. The monsoon closure is part of the management plan. It is the mating season for the wildlife. Moreover, roads and paths get broken and washed away in the rains,” Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, told The Hindu.

Taking advantage of the lean season, the forest management conducts special rescue and protection drive during the monsoon.

“During monsoon, there are chances of animals being infested by maggots, if they sustain injury. We divide our staff into teams and give them maps who will conduct special drives in the forest, checking on the health status of the animals, giving them treatment when needed. While we do this for all animals, our main focus will be on the Asiatic lion. We also check for cubs which might have strayed,” Mr. Kumar said.

The forest has to mandatorily remain shut till the end of September but depending on the duration of the monsoon the management may decide to open the park for tourists in the beginning of October.

“But that is only if we feel there is no chance of rain,” said Mr. Kumar.

According to the census conducted in 2010, the Gir Forest has 411 Asiatic lions, 4,400 sambars, 600 leopards and 302 species of birds, besides 63,000 herbivores.

The next census is due in 2015.