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Spectrum Tours » National parks in india » Gir national park

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Known as the only natural habitat of the Asiatic Lions, Gir National Park’s main attraction is more varied and is not just restricted to Lions only. Located in the Gujarat peninsula of in the South West region of India, Gir will be a delight to visit for every wildlife enthusiast Even if the Kachchh region of Gujarat is swarmed with the desertic climate of the Thar Desert still there are some splendid wildlife reserves situates in the same area, that have become this areas extraordinary feature. The most known name in Gujarat's wild region is Gir, the last and only habitat of Asiatic Lions.However what is lesser known is that it also has the largest population of panthers, deer and a host of other mammalian species. The park is picturesque and covers an area of just over 1,400 sq. km. The numerous lakes and rivers add to the beauty of the park and safaris are always rewarding. Gir, with a bird list of almost 300 species, always pleasantly surprises avid birdwatchers. A tribe known to have migrated eons ago from africa, the maladharis, still live within the park and although this has led to some animal-human conflicts, it makes interesting viewing to see how these people live within the forest.

Until 200 years ago, the lion's habitat extended from south-cast Europe, across south-west Asia to the northern part of central India. Human population spread into this habitat and, coupled with indiscriminate hunting, sealed the fate of the Asian Lion. Unlike the tiger, the lion is easy game as it is active during the day and very sociable. Today, the last of the species, numbering less than 300, roam in the Gir forests of Gujarat, in an isolated hilly region of the otherwise flat Saurashtra peninsula. A sanctuary was created in 1965 and upgraded to a national park in 1975. After a famine in 1913, the lion population here reportedly dwindled to 20.

Lions, the star attraction of Gir, are accustomed to human beings and their vehicles, making close encounters possible. Leopards tend to be overlooked though they are seen occasionally hunting during the day. jeep safaris to the Kankai and Kamleshwar reservoirs in the Chodavdi and Baval sectors of the park are the best way to observe deer, primates, Nilgai (Blue Bull) and Wild Boar. Gir is home to over 36 species of mammals, 450 of plants and 30 of reptiles, the most formidable being the Mugger (Marsh Crocodile). The park's topography makes it a bird-rich area with nearly 300 species that include woodland, scrubland and wetland varieties. Intersected by rivers, Gir is a mix of low rocky hills and open areas, 42 km north of the coastal town of Veraval. It also encompasses reservoirs The Cir Notional Park is the lost stronghold of the Asian Lion, which number less than 300 here created by the damming of rivers such as the Hiran. Teak-dominated dry-deciduous forest covers much of the terrain but there is thornsavannah vegetation in the park's eastern region. Ficus and other semi-evergreen trees grow here and there in the ravines.

The Asian Lion is under terrible pressure even in its last home. Continuous human movement and related activities are diminishing its already fragmented world. The Maldharis, pastoralists with a long history of living with the lion, occupy the 1153.42 sq km buffer area, about 2,200 of them living in nesses ' or enclosed settlements, with almost 14,000 heads of livestock. Almost 10 km of thevisavadar Veraval railway is routed through lion habitat, and there have been instances of lions and other animals being run over by trains. Two highways also run through Gir.

Confining the Asian Lion to a small area makes it vulnerable to biological, climatical and human-induced catastrophes. It is crucial that a second population be established. Several sites have been examined, but the translocation of a key predator requires an adequate prey base in a negligible human environment. In densely populated India, finding such a wilderness is difficult, although Palpur-Kuno Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh is being considered as an option. For now, the Asian Lion roars only in the uneasy calm of Gir.

The Gir Birding Lodge.
Maneland Jungle Lodge.

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