Gir National Park and Sasan Gir Sanctuary, Gujarat – place to go in India
The Gir National Park and the Sasan Gir Sanctuary of Gujarat are the only wildlife sanctuaries in India that have Asiatic Lions. October-June is the ideal time to visit the place and watch these majestic beasts strolling in their territories.
The park was established on 18th September 1965 and it is one of the largest and elegantly preserved areas for the Asiatic Lions. Rivers and streams flowing through this national park remain occupied by the dwellers of the park.
Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary comprises 1412 sq km of deciduous forest interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen flora, acacia, scrub jungle, grasslands and rocky hills. Fed by perennial and seasonal rivers and streams, the sanctuary has large water bodies like the Kamleshwar Dam that are good for crocodiles and birds.
Wild Life in Gir National Park
The count of 2,375 distinct fauna species of Gir includes about 38 species of mammals, around 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and more than 2,000 species of insects. The carnivores group mainly comprises Asiatic lions, Indian Leopards, Sloth bears, Indian Cobras, Jungle cats, Striped Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose, Indian Palm Civets, and Ratels. Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats occur but are rarely seen.
The main herbivores of Gir are Chital, Nilgai (or Bluebull), Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara and Wild boar. Blackbucks from the surrounding area are sometimes seen in the sanctuary.
How to Reach Gir National Park
Gir National Park attracts large number of tourists to witness the Asiatic lion, as this is the sole place all across the world where these creatures are presently found. Once extinct, numbers have been recovered owing to the conservation efforts. The Sanctuary is open for tourism from 16th October to 15th June every year.
Junagadh is perhaps the best approach to the park. The railway station in Junagadh receives trains from different cities like Ahmedabad and Rajkot and other major cities. Then, from here it takes approximately one and half hour to reach Gir National Park.
The April 2010 census recorded the lion-count in Gir at 411, an increase of 52 compared to 2005. The lion breeding programme covering the park and surrounding area has bred about 180 lions in captivity since its inception.