Gir Wild Life Sanctuary or Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only natural habitat of the lion outside the African Continent. It is the only national park in India that nurtures lions into their natural habitat. Covering the total area of more than 250 square kilometers as the protected portion, overall Gir National Park, also known as Sasan Gir Forest holds around 1200 square kilometers for a wildlife sanctuary, which is the biggest in Gujarat and one of the biggest in India as well. Apart from Asiatic Lions, Gir National Park is also a place to see some of the rarest species in the state.
The dedicated land as a national reservoir came into existence in the year of 1965, which is located amongst Junagadh, Gir Somnath and Amreli districts of Gujarat. The diversified ecology with a wide range of flora and fauna of the Gir National Park has been preserved through the various efforts of the Gujarat Government Forest Department, local administration and various NGOs. There were many incidents of poaching recorded throughout the sanctuary and wildlife activists with local villagers and government makes daunting measures to keep the forest safe for it’s natural habitats. The safety of Asiatic lions is the core aim of this Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, however, other animals also reside in the forest like Indian Leopard, hyena, golden jackal, Bengal fox, grey mongoose, pythons, lizards, crocodile, ratels, wild cats, chital, nilgai, sambar, chinkara, wild boar and blackbucks to name a few. Around 2500 types of species of wild lives have been recorded inside the forest. There are mammals, reptiles, birds and insects of all kinds. Gir forest has the largest population of crocodiles not only in Gujarat but in India also. Birds inside the Gir National park are also in the same range and some of them are also rare species that are normally not visible in urban areas. To name a few of them are vultures, eagle, great horned owl, woodpecker, crested treeswift, Indian Pitta, brown fist owl, hawk-eagle, black-headed oriole and more. Gir forest is considered to be a heaven for birdwatchers and photographers. Places like Kamleshwar Dam and the surrounding location is also known for migratory birds like flaming and pelican, which travels to Gujarat during the winter season.
Hunting activity is strictly prohibited inside the forest. The lion breeding program in Gir National Park is its core purpose and around 200 lions have been bred so far within the Gir range. The population of Asiatic Lions has much increased and the success rate of lion breeding is comparatively at par with any other in the world.
Gir, the forest and reservoir for the Asiatic lion is not only famous for its sanctuary and lion breading but the local villages and its population is also one of the attraction to explore here. Surrounding villages of the Talala region have a population of African origin people, which were brought here as slaves by the Portuguese and Britishers. More than seven rivers including Hiran and Godavari flows through the forest region and keeps the flora and fauna intact throughout the year. However the greenery of Sasan Gir forest is best to explore during and post-monsoon period, it dries a little when the summer is at the peak. The enclosed area of Gir National Park from the overall forest remains closed during the monsoon season.
Gir National Park is about 350 kilometers from the biggest city of Gujarat, Ahmedabad and it is well connected through rail and road. Also, other places to visit nearby are Somnath Temple and Diu. There are best and budgeted hotels and resorts available in and around the Gir region for everyone to suit. You can explore Gir forest through guided open Jeep Safari which is scheduled in two shifts; morning and evening. Gir National Park is the best place for wildlife tourism as it has enthralling feelings that evoke thrill amongst every wildlife enthusiast. It is one of the best places to explore in Gujarat and India also.
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