Gir National Park, Junagarh
The Gir National Park is famous for its thriving population of the Asiatic Lions and is major protected wildlife reserve in the State of Gujarat. The forests were once the hunting reserves of the royal family of Junagarh who later played a pivotal role in the conservation of lions in the region. Apart from the Lions, the forests of Gir are also home to a varied species of animals, birds and reptiles.
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Gir National Park: The Majestic Home of the Royal King:
Besides Africa, Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only place in the world where you can spot lions roaming free in the wild. The real discovery channel of India is situated approximately 65 Kms South East of Junagarh District. The Government notified the large geographical extent of Sasan Gir as wildlife sanctuary on 18th September, 1965 in order to conserve the Asiatic Lion. It covers total area of 1412 square kilometers of which 258 Km forms the core area of the National Park. Indiscriminate hunting by the people of Junagarh led to their decrease in population drastically, while they were completely wiped out from the other parts of Asia. It was the kind effort of Nawabs of Junagarh who protected the queen royalty in his own private hunting grounds. Later in due course of time Department of Forest Officials came forward to protect the world’s most threatened species. From a population of approximately 20 lions in 1913, they have risen to a comfortable 523 according to 2015 census. There are 106 male, 201 female and 213 sub-adult lions in the wilderness of these four districts.
Subtle Glimpses of Major Attractions at Sasan Gir:
Animals:The entire forest area of the Gir National Park is dry and deciduous which provides best habitat for Asiatic Lions. As per the new statics of 2015, the entire Saurashtra Region is inhabited by 523 Lions and more than 300 Leopards. Apart from these two animals the park is a home to two different species of Deer. The Sambar is counted largest Indian Deer. The Gir forest is also known for the Chowsingha – the world’s only four horned antelope. The Jackal, striped Hyena and India Fox are some of the smaller carnivores found in Gir Forest.
Birds: The exotic flora of Gir National Park gives shelter to more than 200 species of birds and moreover the sanctuary has been declared an important bird area by the Indian Bird Conservation Network. Gir is also habitat of raptors like critically endangered white-backed and long-billed vultures.
Reptiles: Gir is blessed with more than 40 species of reptiles and amphibians. Kamleshwar – a large reservoir in the sanctuary is the best spot where Marsh Crocodile can be seen in large numbers. Park has even many species of snake including King Kobra, the Russell’s viper, Saw-scaled viper and the Krait.