AHMEDABAD: Indian cricketer Ravindra Jadeja has been fined $300 for taking selfies with endangered Asiatic lions in the country’s west despite a ban on such photos, a senior forest official said on Wednesday.
Officials had ordered an investigation in June after pictures of Jadeja posing in front of a pride of lions during a safari in Gir forest went viral on social media.
“We had instituted a probe and called Jadeja for a statement,” A.P. Singh, chief forest conservator in Gujarat state, told AFP.
“But since he was not available, his father-in-law Hardevsinh Solanki gave a written statement on his behalf and paid the fine of 20,000 rupees ($300),” he said.
In one of the photos on Instagram, the all-rounder 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 27-year-old is currently on tour with the Indian team in the West Indies.
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 wildlife sanctuary 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.