Situated in the western state of Gujarat
, Gir is one of India’s oldest sanctuaries and is the only remaining habitat of the majestic Asiatic lion. Confined to this forest, this park takes pride in saving an endangered species, by providing it a more secured habitat. There are around 400-500 lions in the park but if we compare it to the populations of the tigers in any other national parks we realize that the chance of a lion sighting is good. These big cats are best observed in their natural surroundings, at dawn and dusk, when they are on the prowl. African Lion is slightly bigger than the Asiatic lion. Even so, an encounter with the one of the Gir is quite a sight to behold. Being the last remaining abode of the Lion, Gir is also home to one of the largest leopard populations in any national park in India.For over 150 years, after the Nawab of Junagarh took strong conservation measures to protect them, the Asiatic lions have remained confined only to Gir, leading to a growth in the lion population. As per the survey of the Botany department of M.S. University of Baroda, there are more than 400 plant species recorded in the forests of Gir. As part of the forestation programme cassuarina and prosopis have been planted along the coast borders of Gir. A distinct belt of vegetation is found along the main rivers and streams of the region. The major perennial rivers of the Gir forest are Datardi, Godavari, Hiran, Machhundri, Raval, Shetrunji, and Shingoda. With considerable aesthetic, educational, recreational, and scientific values, the forest is an important biological research area. Gir – the lion sanctuary is definitely one of the success stories of India and is one of the best conservation stories in the world.
Flora, Fauna & Avifauna
- Here the terrain is rugged and hilly with tropical dry deciduous forest. Teak constitutes nearly half of the total area. Other species found here are the acacia ber, jamun, babul, zizyphus, tendu, dhak etc. These broadleaf trees are mostly evergreen, providing a cool shade and moisture content to the region.
- The animal residents of the Gir national park are are Chinkara Gazelle, Chital Spotted Deer, Chowsingha Four-Horned Antelope, Jungle Cat, Langur Monkey, Nilgai Antelope and Sambar Deer. Other mammals to look out for are the Hyena, Jackal, Marsh Muggers, Wild Boar, Wolf as well as a variety of bird species.
- The avifauna population of Gir has more than 300 species of birds, most of which are resident. Some of the typical species of Gir include Paradise Flycatcher, Bonneli’s Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Woodpeckers Flamingo, Crested Hawk-eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Eagle-owl, Rock Bush-quail, Black-headed Oriole, Crested Tree-swift, Indian Pitta etc.