Spread over a 1412 square kilometer area, the Gir National Park also known as ‘Sasan Gir’ was established in the year 1965. Located in the western state of Gujarat, it is the only known home for the pure-bred Asiatic Lions and hence, considered as one of the most important protected areas in Asia. The eco-system of the Gir Forest has a very diverse flora and fauna well supported by the two seasons of the summer and winter along with a tropical monsoon climate. There are seven major perennial rivers flowing through the region, which together with the four reservoirs located here are dubbed as ‘The Lifeline of Gir’.
More than 507 plant species have been recorded in the park, with the teak bearing areas mainly found in the eastern portion of the forest. The distinct 2,375 species of fauna of the Gir includes 38 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds. Another 37 species of reptiles together with over 2,000 species of insects have opted for the Gir National Park to be their home. The carnivores comprise of the Asiatic Lions, Indian Leopards, Sloth Bear, Jungle Cats, Striped Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose, Indian Palm Civets, Ratels & Desert Cats which are sometimes seen.
The main herbivores of this National Park include the Chital, Blue-Bull, Sambar, Four-Horned Antelope, Chinkara, the Wild Boar, Porcupine and the Hare. The reptiles consist of the Marsh Crocodile, Indian Star Tortoise, Monitor Lizards and Pythons are sighted along the stream banks. An interesting and typical Gir birdlife includes Crested Serpent Eagle, the endangered Bonelli’s Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, the Great Horned Owl, Bush Quail, Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-Headed Oriole, Crested Tree-swift, with 6 recorded species of vultures. Walking, hiking, camping or picnics inside the park is not allowed and visitors are advised to take the help of the safaris and official guides provided by the authorities.
Asiatic Lions: A subspecies of the Lion, these Asiatic Lions are found today only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat in India. One of the five major Big Cats found within this sub-continent, they are now numbering 411, and confined only within the Gir National Park. Asiatic Lions are smaller and lighter than their African counterparts, but are equally aggressive. Their color ranges from reddish-brown to a highly mottled black to sandy cinnamon grey. These are highly social animals living in units called prides, with an average consisting of two females. Efforts are however on to establish a second independent population of Asiatic Lions at the Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh with a first batch of trans-located lions from the Gir National Park.