AHMEDABAD: Forestry officials in western India have ordered an inquiry after cricketer Ravindra Jadeja posted several photos on social media of him and his wife posing with endangered Asiatic lions.
Officials from Gujarat state’s Gir wildlife sanctuary ordered the probe late Thursday after photos showing the couple in front of a pride of lions during a safari earlier this week went viral on social media.
“The Gir National Park and Sanctuary is a protected area and people are not supposed to get down (from) their vehicle during safari,” a chief forest conservator A.P. Singh told AFP.
“Since it is against the rule to get down (from) the vehicle in jungle, we have ordered a probe into the matter,” he said, adding that the penalty would be determined after investigation.
In one of the photos on Instagram, the left-arm spinner is seen smiling and pointing at a pride of big cats resting behind him with a caption “family photo, having good time in Sasan (Gir)”.
Another is a selfie of Jadeja and his wife as a lion looks on in the background.
The photos were taken just days after the Gujarat forestry department advised tourists and locals against taking selfies with lions, following a spate of attacks in which villagers were killed or injured by the cats.
Gir forest is a popular big cat safari destination and the only place where Asiatic lions remain in the wild. Asiatic lions, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, have been increasing in numbers in Gir, with 523 recorded in the latest census.
The Asiatic lion was listed as endangered in 2008, up from being classified as critically endangered in 2000, after numbers improved in the forest.