Gir National Park - Only Home of Asiatic Lions
Sasan- Gir or Gir National Park is a brown, dry and thorny lion reserve at Gujarat State in Western India. Sasan Gir is the only home of pure Asiatic Lion. Gir Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1965 with a total area of 1421 km sq. National park area is 258.71 sq. km. as a core area. Park is about 65 kms from Junagarh in south-east direction. It is the only habitat of Asiatic Lions(panthera leo persica). in Asia. Gir forest was declared as protected area in 1900 by the Nawab of Junagarh princely state. It is claimed that about more than 300 asiatic lions are present in Gir forest. In addition to it, leopards, spotted deers, blue bull, wild boar, chinkara, blackbucks, striped hyena, jackal are also found in forest area. Porcupine, hare and rare pangolin are also found in mammals family. Here Gujarat State Forest Department has adopted Indian Crocodile Conservation Project in 1977, under which about 1000 marsh crocodile reared in Gir rearing centre. For bird watchers, Gir National Park have 300 species of birds among which Pygmy woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, brown fish owl, Great Horned Owl, Indian Pitta, Bonnelli's Eagle are prominent. Before year 2001, Indian Grey Hornbill was also seen in forest of Sasan-Gir
How to reach Gir National Park :
Total area of Gir Forest is 1882.6 sq. kms in which 1502.7 sq. km. falls in Junagarh District and remaining 379.9 sq. km. area is in Amreli District. Junagadh is the nearest railway station for Sasan Gir. It is just 58kms from National Park. Nearest airport to Gir National Park is in Diu, about 100 kms from Gir National Park. Porbander is about 160 kms and Rajkot is also 160 kms from Sasan Gir. Porbander Airport have airlink with Mumbai. Junagarh Railway Station and Veraval is well linked with other cities of India. Those who wish to visit Central India Tiger Reserve like Kanha, Bandhavgarh etc. after Gir Lion Safari may take direct Jabalpur-Somnath Express (1463)train from Junagadh Railway Station. Surface connectivity of Gir National Park with Junagarh is good and regular taxi service is available for Wildlife tours.
1. About 58 kms from Junagarh.
Their was a time when Asiatic Lion was widely distributed in Asia. In India, lions were present from Bihar State in east to Narmada river valley in west. But in 19th century they suffered major loss due to poaching & natural habitat and were about to extinct from India. Probable years of last lion sighting in various parts of India are as follows: 1834 in Delhi, 1840 in Bihar, 1842 in Bhavalpur, 1865 in Bundelkhand & VIndhya region, 1870 in Rajasthan & 1880 in Aravali hills region.
With the begining of 20th century, Nawab of Junagadh in Gujarat realized that about 15 lions were alive. During those days, remaining lions were also struggling for survival due to wide spread famine in region. At that time, Junagadh Nawab realized to take immediate supportive steps for survival of struggling species of Asiatic lions in India. Impact of supportive steps was visible with the increase in their population. After Nawab's death, ruling British Government take initiative to curb ongoing illegal shooting of lions in the area. As per report of Chief Wildlife Officer of Gir, lions predicted population in that region during that time was 20. Organised lion census was done from year 1936 in which it was revealed that 287 lions were living successfully in the Gir Forest area. With the passage of time, lions population in the region gradually increased.Best Time to Visit Gir National Park - The ideal time to visit the park is from the month of october till april.
Safaris in Gir National Park - Lions in Gir are more tolerant to humans in comparison to Tigers. Here we can see human being with sticks walking on ground in presence of lions during safari time. Here is the park safari timing details.
Par Safari Timings -
Built between 1486 and 1517 by Raja Mansingh Tomar. Emperor Aurangzeb imprisoned & executed his brother Murad here.
Flora & Fauna of Gir Lion Reserve -
As per report of Samtapau and Raizada-1955, over 400 plant species were recorded. On the other hand M. S. University of Baroda have recorded over 507 species of plants in Gir forest area whose description is as follows:
Their are about 2355 fauna species in Gir forest which comprises both carnivores and herbivores groups. Carnivores group comprises: Asiatic Lions, Indian Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sloth Bear, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose etc. Herbivores group comprises Spotted Deers, Four-horned Antelope, Blackbucks, Chinkara, Wild Boar etc.
Bird Watching in Gir National Park - In addition to Asiatic lions, bird are also the part of attraction during gir park safari. While staying in a wildlife lodge in Gir, one can notice Black Ibis and two Ashy Drongos. At the outskirts of Sasan Gir we may spot Brown Crake, Large-tailed Nightjars, Painted Sandgrouse etc. Other commonly seen bird species includes Peacock, Brown Fish Owl, Black-naped Monarch, Changeable Hawk Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard, Jungle Crow, Tickell's Leaf Wabler etc.
Climate & Weather -
Gir is a dry scrubland and open deciduous forest. Gir forest ecosystem falls in Biogeography Zone-4 means semi-arid and Biogeography Province 4-B. Here land topography comprises moderate hills, valleys and plateaus with not fixed direction of hill ranges. Hills in Sasan Gir are of Volcanic origin comprising Dolomite and Basalt rock types.
Here Southern area is comparatively less hilly than Northern region. Climate of Gir National Park is trophical monsoon with hot summers. Here rainfall takes places in between July to September end. Averare rainfall remains in between 550 mm to 1100 mm. Irregular monsoon remains a problem for the forest. Seven perennial rivers of Gir are: Saraswati, Singoda, Macchundri, Hiran, Datardi, Ghodavadi and Raval. Park authorities have made 300 special water points in forest area to ensure water supply to animals during extreme summers through 4 dams constructed on perennial rivers.
Resorts & Lodges in Gir National Park -Gir Lodge: It is close to entrance of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. Lodge have 2 Rooms and 4 Cottages.
Lion Safari Camp: At Gir National Park, Lion Safari Camp is a Luxury Wildlife Camp owned and managed by Camps of India. It have 21 AC luxury Tents with attached bathrooms. It is located in private mango orchard.
Maneland Jungle Lodge : Lodge have about 15 rooms with attached bathrooms and all modern facilites like power backup, doctor on call, swimming pool etc.
Sinh Sadan Guest House : It is located at the entrance of Gir National Park at Sasan. It is run by Gujarat Tourism Authorities and Forest Department. It has large rooms with attractive interior in clean and hygienic atmosphere.