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Location: Gujrat, India
Nearest Access: Junagadh (55 Kms)
Wildlife Found: Asiatic Lion, Leopard
Coverage Area: 1412.13-sq-kms
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Gir National Park is the only home in India for the Asiatic Lion of which there are nearly 300 in the park. The Gir National Park lies in the Gujarat peninsula in South-Western India. The terrain is rugged with low hills and the vegetation is mixed deciduous, with stands of Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees, interspersed with large patches of grasslands. The trees on the hills 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. The edges of the park have good population of Indian Gazelle, protected by religious sentiments of the local people.

Fauna in Gir - According to official census figures, Gir has about 300 lions and 300 leopards, making it one of the major big-cat concentrations in India. Sambar and spotted deer (chital), blue bull (nilgai), chousingha (the world's only four-horned antelope), chinkara (Indian gazelle) and wild boar thrive in Gir. Jackal, striped hyena, jungle cat, rusty-spotted cat, langur, porcupine, black-naped Indian hare are among the other mammals of Gir.

Gir has a large population of marsh crocodile or mugger, which is among the 40 species of reptiles and amphibians recorded in the sanctuary.

The park checklist has 250 birds and about 50 other species (including the endangered lesser florican and the saras crane) are recorded in the grasslands along the perifery of the sanctuary. Many species like the painted sandgrouse, grey francolin, quails, Asian paradise flycatcher, black-naped monarch, white-browed fantail, Asian brown flycatcher, grey-headed flycatcher, verditer flycatcher, tickell's blue flycatcher, greenish warbler, white-eye, coppersmith barbet, common and marshal's iora, rufous treepie, yellow-footed green pigeon have been spotted by our guests around the lodge itself. Long-billed vulture, Indian white-backed vulture, red-headed (king) vulture, Eurasian griffon vulture, changeable hawk-eagle, crested serpent eagle, bonneli's eagle, greater spotted eagle, lesser spotted eagle, tawny eagle, steppe eagle, imperial eagle, Pallas's fish eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon, laggar falcon, red-headed falcon, oriental honey-buzzard, white-eyed buzzard and other raptors have been seen in the sanctuary. Gir also has brown fish owl, Eurasian eagle owl, spotted owlet. In the evening, nightjars can be seen.

Major Wildlife Attractions - distinct belt of vegetation is found along the main rivers and streams. Species like the Jambu, Karanj, Umro, Vad, Kalam, Charal, Sirus and Amli are mainly found here. These trees are mostly broad leaved and evergreen, giving the area a cool shade and the moisture content. Finally, Prosopis and Casuarina have been planted in the coastal borders as part of the afforestation plan.

The Asiatic Lion
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 counterparts, 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.

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 among the predators, one of the reasons why it occupies a much larger spread of Gujarat forest cover. In the Gir National Park it is found in all the varied habitats and vegetation types. The approximate population of 210 Leopards resides within the sanctuary area.

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 of Indian Cobra, Common Krait, Saw Scaled Viper, Russell's Viper. Among the lesser-known wildlife of Gir National Park includes the most common animal that can be sighted in the sanctuary, the Chital or Spotted Deer. Other 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 the forest, a fact which shows that the forest is not just meant for the protection of Lions, but the entire cat family.

Avian Population
The forest is also rich in bird life, with an estimated 300 species inhabiting the Gir National Park. Many wildlife experts believe that had Gir not been a Lion sanctuary, it could have easily passed off as a protected area for the incredible diversity of birds that it harbors. The avifauna 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 the commonly found varieties in the park.

Other Attraction

Safaris:
Jeep Safaris are an ideal way to travel inside the park, as the uneven terrain of the park can be conveniently covered
on a sturdy vehicle. The park authorities permit you to take your own vehicle inside the park but only with the addition
of a park guide. Jeeps can also be hired from the office at Sasan or from the tour operators. Seats should be booked in advance for a ride on the mini bus operated by the park administration. The safari timings are 6:30 to 9:30 AM and
3 to 5 PM.

Best Time to Visit - wildlife is the months of Decmber to April.


How to Get there

Air: Nearest airport is Keshod, while it will be ideal to travel by air to Rajkot and take a bus or taxi from here. Another major airport is Ahmedabad, connected to Delhi through daily flights.

Train : The nearest railheads are Sasan Gir and Veraval, while the most convenient railway station is Rajkot.

Road : State Transport buses are available from Junagadh and Veraval between November and June. To reach the park from Ahmedabad, take the NH8A to Chotila via Bagodra, Limbdi and Sayla, NH8B to Jetpur via Rajkot and Gondal, NH8D to Junagadh via Vadal. From here, take the district road to Sasan Gir via Khadia and Mendarda.

General Info / Tips

The entry gate of the park is located at Sasan on the south-western border, while entry tickets can be obtained from the reception desk at the Sinh Sadan Guest House.

The park charges are, Entry Fee : Rs. 30 (Indians) & US$ 5 (foreigners), Vehicle Entry : Rs. 35 (Indians) & US$ 4 (foreigners), Guide Fee : Rs. 50 (first 4 hrs) & Rs. 20 (every additional hour), Jeep hire : Rs. 600/safari.

Park timings are 8 to 11 AM 3 to 5 PM.

Do not talk loudly or play music as the noise may scare away the animals.

Do not pollute the surroundings by smoking or throwing polythene bags and other non-biodegradable material.

It is better to get adequate information about the place and take along a guide. Carry all the essentials along including a flash light, prescribed medication and clothes according to the season of your visit.

 
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