Gir national park lies in the Gujarat peninsula in SW India. The terrain is
rugged with low hills and the vegetation is mixed deciduous, with stands of
Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees, interespersed with large patches
of grasslands. On the hills of the trees are sparse and stunted. Within the
sanctuary, there are numerous human settlements of cattle herders called
Maldharis with an estimated 20,000 head of livestock (which, incidentally,
forms a significant part of the Lions diet).
There are also
places of Hindu worship and pilgrimage and sulphur springs at Tulsi Shyam
and Kankai Mata. At the edge of the park there are good populations of
Indian Gazelle, protected by the religious sentiment of the local people.
The Kamleshwar Lake has some Marsh Crocodile. Birds in the park include the
Paradise Flycatcher, Bonellis Eagle and Painted Sandgrouse.
unusual reserves, the Nalsarover Lake and Sanctuary, where large numbers of
water-birds can be seen; the bare saline flats of the Rann of Kutch,
incredibly the home of the Indian wild ass and the spectacular Flamingo
island where nesting colonies of flamingoes are to be seen, make Gujarat an
exciting place for wildlife enthusiasts. Gir Sanctuary is the last and only
home of the critically endangered Asiatic Lion.
These lions are a
smaller more compact version of their African version, and are best viewed
at dawn or dusk when they are on the move. The major difference between the
two is that the African Lion appears larger than the Indian Lion because of
its large and luxuriant mane. In The past Gir had a much bigger coverage
area. After Indian government placed a total ban on killing of Lions in
1955, within the time span of three years the area estimation came around
2,560-sq-km and the Lion population was estimated at 287.
then, the forest area very quickly got reduced in area to 1,452-sq-km. In
1965, the Gujarat government declared Gir forest as a sanctuary and in 1975;
part of the sanctuary was declared as a National Park. And with the success
of the protection program there is an incredible increase in the Lion
population too, from 177 in 1974 to around 300 in 1995. The main territories
of this territorial predator outside Gir national park in Gujarat include
Nagwa Beach in Diu, Sutrapada, Palitana, Mahuva, Savarkundla, Mitiyala,
Keshod, Maliya Hatina, and Girnar