11:00 pm - Wednesday October 20, 2021

Wildlife in India

Gir National Park

Location : 64 km from Junagadh and 32 km from Verawal

Total Coverage Area : 1,412.14 sq. km./ Lion sanctuary 141,213 hectares (of which national park 35,948 hectares).

Description

Gir is the only home in India of the Lion of which there are nearly 300 in the park. The 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 Lion's 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, Bonelli's Eagle and Painted Sandgrouse. Three 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.

The Topography

The state of Gujarat has some splendid wildlife reserves that are quite out of the ordinary. The Gir National Park is the only home in India of the Asiatic Lion of which there are nearly 300 in the park. This sanctuary lies in the Gujarat peninsula in South West India and is gifted with a terrain that is rugged with low hills and the vegetation is full of mixed deciduous, with stands of Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees, interspersed with large patches of grasslands. On the hills of the trees are sparse and stunted.

Climate

From the three common seasons of summer, winter and monsoon, summer takes the longest stretch, in which the average minimum and maximum temperature ranges between 10?C to nearly 45'C. The hottest months recorded in Gir are April and May. The rains bring some relief from the heat during the monsoons period of, starting from middle of June and September. The maximum recorded during this period in the area is around 1,866 mm and the minimum recorded being 199mm.

Because of less rainfall water always remains a critical factor in the well being of the forest. At times the waterholes are required to be replenished through water tankers from outside and the park staff maintains around 350 of such waterholes.

The Lion King

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.

Extension Of The Sanctuary

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. Since 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.

Other Wild Attractions

The Leopards

Leopard is considered to be one of the most beautiful and graceful animals in the jungle, also the most dangerous one. Popularly known as the Prince of Cats, this animal is the most adaptable from the family of predators, one the reason why it occupies a much larger spread of Gujarat forest cover, and in Gir National Park it has been found in all the varied habitats and vegetation types I such as deciduous, thorn scrub, grasslands, riverside forests and village cultivated fields. The approximate population of 210 Leopards resides within the sanctuary area.

Among the lesser-known wildlife of Gir National Park include the most common animal that can be sighted in the sanctuary is the Chital or Spotted Deer. Others main wild attractions are Nilgai, Chinkara, Sambhar, Black Bucks, the four horned Antelope, Wild Boar, Indian Flying Foe, Grey Musk Shrew, Indian Hare, Pale Hedgehog, Small Indian Mangoose, Small Indian Civet, Indian Pangolin, Indian Porcupine, Ratel, Indian Fox, and Jackal. The three smaller wildcats - the Jungle Cat, Desert Cat and the Rusty Spotted Cat, also inhabit Gir forest, which shows that the forest is not just meant for the protection of Lions, but the whole of the cat family.

Reptiles

Not leaving the water predators behind, Mash crocodiles are often seen along the Kamleshwar Dam Site. Another major attraction among the reptile population of Gir National Park are the numerous non-venomous Snakes such as the Indian Rock Python along with the four venomous varieties, which are Indian Cobra, Common Krait, Saw Scaled Viper, Russell's Viper. The turtles reside in the freshwater ponds and rivers of Gir National Park, and are either hard-shelled or soft-shelled. Commonly found in all major and minor water bodies of Gir are the Soft Shelled Turtle.

The Bird Life

The forest is also rich in bird life, and an estimated of 300 species are found inhabiting Gir National Park over the years. Many wildlife experts say that if Gir has not been a Lion sanctuary, it could have easily passed off as a protected area for the incredible diversity of birds that it harbours. The avifauna in here occupies the forest floors, small plants and shrubs and even the canopy of the trees. The Paradise Flycatcher, Black Headed Cuckoo Shrike, Pied Woodpecker, Bonelli's Eagle, Creset Serpant Eagle, Painted Sandgrouse, Bush Quail and Grey Patridge are among the varieties that are commonly found over here.

Some species of birds are permanent residents of Gir, staying in the breeding area round the year even though breeding period is from spring to summer season. Many tropical birds also spend the whole year in the same area; some of these, where seasonality is at a minimum, may nest at almost any time. Still there are many species of birds that migrate to escape the cold climate to warmer places, which mean that they make regular seasonal movements away from and back to the breeding area.

Residents Of Gir National Park

There are also numerous human settlements of cattle herders called Maldharis residing within the sanctuary with an estimated 20,000 head of livestock (which, incidentally, forms a significant part of the Lion's 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.

Visiting Season

Even if Gir National Park is one of the hottest and most visited wildlife reserves within India still the period one should visit this park is during the months of Mid October-Mid June, and the best recommended time is December-April.

Access

By Air : Nearest airport is Keshod 90-km via Veraval. One can catch daily flight from Mumbai to Keshod. Drive to Gir from Keshod or Rajkot (166-kms) airports.

By Rail : Meter gauge rail line of 395-kms from Ahemdabad. There is also a railway station at Sasan Gir (1km).

By Road : Distance of 400-kms from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda. State Transport buses are also available from Junagadh and Veraval between November and June.

Accommodation And Facilities

The Gir Lodge has recently been refurbished and upgraded. Nearby is the family-run Maneland Lodge, suitable for small groups. Safaris are by 4-wheel drive motor vehicles.

THE GIR LODGE - GIR NATIONAL PARK

Jungle Lodge The Gir Lodge is located on the edge of Gir Forest. The Lodge has 20 Standard Non A/C rooms, 07 standard A/C rooms. The other facilities includes car park, safe locker conference hall. Taj Group of Hotels manages the Forest Lodge. Each bedroom has private bathroom with bath and/or shower and toilet, telephone, television and a mini bar.

Haunuman Langur Small Indian Civet Striped Hyaena
Wild Cat Wild Boar Nilgai
Indian Pangolin Indian Hare Golden Jackal
Small Indian Mongoose Jungle Cat Lion
Chital Four-horned Antelope Northern Palm Squirrel
Bengal Fox Indian Grey Mongoose Rusty-spotted Cat
Leopard Sambar Indian Gazelle
Indian Porcupine    

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