Gir National Park in Gujarat is the home for Asiatic Lion in India. In India, 4% of the total land comes under 90 National forest and 482 Wildlife Protected Area. The Gir forest is situated in the city of Junagadh in the Kathiawar peninsula of Gujarat state in India.
Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary are also known as Sasan Gir. On 18th September 1965, Gir Asiatic Lion forest Reserve was established and Wildlife Protection Act was established in the year 1972. Gujarat state acquires 22 Protected Areas in addition of 4 National Forest Park naming:
- Gir Forest National Park, in Somanth of Gujarat, is recognized for Asiatic lion, leopard, chausingha, spotted deer, hyena, sambar deer, chinkara.
- Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar in Bhavnagar have the species of Blackbuck, fox, Macqueen’s bustard, lesser florican;
- Vansda National Park in Navsari District which is famous for Leopard, hyena, spotted deer, chausingha.
Marine National Park at Gulf of Kutch in DevBhoomi Dwarka includes the species of Sponges, corals, jellyfish, seahorse, octopus, pearl oyster, starfish, lobster, dolphin.
The Gir forest has an estimated area of 1412 Sq. Km in which the core area is spread within 258 Sq. Km.
Some Key facts of Gir Forest are:
- There are numerous hundred of Asiatic lions in the wild, and they are only found in Gir Forest, India. They occupy the area that is smaller than Greater London. The approximate population of lions lies somewhere around 300-400 and was declared an endangered species by IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature).
- Asian lions are marginally smaller than African lions. Contrary to African lions, male lions do not live with the females of their pride unless they are sexually involved or want to or have a large prey.
- The origination of Asian is from Turkey, from the whole of Asia to eastern India, but the rise of firearms across the globe meant that they were hunted for the game which resulted in the approximate extinction.
- Compared to the fuller mane (long and thick hairs) of African lions, the male Asiatic lion is relatively small, thin and dark colored mane. Consequently, the ears of the Asian lion are visible all the time.
- The most differentiating feature of the Asiatic lion is the lengthwise fold of the skin which runs within its stomach part but is absent in African lions.
- Today, the wild lions which remaining in the forest are sensitive to disease, disaster, and potential hunt, and living with a growing human population also requires land for livestock and crops.
- The heels lion do not touch the ground when they walk.
- In Gir, when we talk of the fauna (a term related for uncountable animals when considered as a group; especially those of a particular country, region, or time) world, there are about 2,375 different species of animals, with 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and more than 2,000 insects species and 38 species of mammals.
- The Asiatic lion, Indian leopard, Indian cobra, jungle cat, striped hyena, Golden jackal, Indian and Ruddy mongeese, and honey badger comes under the category of carnivores (whose main diet is meat includes). Desert cats and rusty-spotted cats are rare species which are seen.
- The herbivore group in Gir comprises of chital, nilgai, sambar, four-horned antelope, chinkara and wild boar.
- Out of the 38 species of mammal, smaller mammals like porcupine and hare are commonly seen but the rare one is pangolin.
Reptiles are represented by species of a crocodile who makes overstated faces, tortoise and monitor lizards live in the water bodies of the sanctuary. Snakes are found in bushes and jungle. Python is sometimes seen along with stream banks.
- The Gir has been utilized by the Gujarat Forest Department, which constituted the Indian Crocodile Protection Project in 1977 and issued 1,000 marsh crocodiles (crocodiles living in low, wetland often with tall grass) in Kamaleshwar and other small bodies around the lake and surrounding water.
- In the 300 species of birds, there are 6 species of vultures recorded till date, endangered Bonelli’s eagle, crested serpent eagle, Indian eagle-owl, crested hawk-eagle, rock bush-quail, Indian peafowl, brown fish owl, brown-capped pygmy woodpecker, black-headed oriole, Indian pitta, and crested treeswift are some other species of birds found in Gir.
- The Indian grey hornbill, a species of bird only, was not found since 2001, which means it is extinct.
How To Reach Gir Forest:
- By Air- Keshod and Rajkot airport are the two nearest airports for Gir National Park. At a distance of 70 km, the keshod airport is located from the park whereas the Rajkot airport is 160 km away. Hire a cab or bus service to reach the Gir national park from any of these two airports. Nevertheless, the best way to reach Gir National Park from overseas is by using the Mumbai International Airport. You can reach the Diu airport from the Mumbai airport via air route and rent a cab from Diu airport to Gir national park, which is at around drive of 2 hours by a cab. You can also choose to reach Porbandar airport from Mumbai airport and then take a cab or taxi to reach the Gir national park by road. It will take around 2 to 2 and a half hour to drive from Porbandar to Gir.
- By Rail- The two nearest railway stations from the Gir national park are Junagadh and Veraval railway stations, located at around the same distance from the park. Both the railway stations are on the major railway line of the state and connected to all the major location of the country by the direct trains. Hire a cab or taxi or state bus to reach Gir from any of these two railway stations which will take around one and a half hour to 2 hours by road. Rajkot railway station is the nearest station which is located at around 165 km from the Gir forest and takes around 3 and a half hours to 4 hours by road. The Rajkot railway station is also a prime station and connected to major cities by direct or connecting trains.
- By Road- The Gir National Park is properly connected to most of the major cities of Gujarat via a good road. There is the presence of private and state bus service which offer frequent bus service to Gir from various parts of the state. Cabs and taxis are also easily available at major cities in Gujarat to reach the Gir National Park.
- Here are the road distances from different cities to Gir National Park:
- From Ahmedabad – 410 km
- From Diu – 110 km
- From Junagadh – 55 Km
- From Rajkot – 160 km
- From Veraval – 45 km
- From Somnath – 50 km
- From Keshod – 45 km
When To Visit:
Every year, the Gir National Park is closed from 16th June to 15th October. It’s the period when the southwest monsoon arrives.
December to March is the best season to visit the park. Though, April and May are very hot but are considered as the best months for witnessing wildlife and for photography.
Where to Stay in Gir National Park:
There are plenty of options to stay in Gir Forest Reserve. From low budget to luxury hotels and almost everything in between. The forest department handles two lodges, the Sinh Sadan Forest Lodge and the Gir Lodge, while various private lodges also exist in the outskirts of the Gir National Park.
Gir Entry Fees:
There is a fee if you want to explore Gir National Park. For Indian visitors, the entrance fee is Rs 75, whereas for foreign visitors – 100 rupees. For the vehicle safari, the fee is Rs 35, the photography fee is 100 rupees and the charge for the 4-hour guide service is 50 rupees.
If the online booking of Gir and safari is done, then you have to pay an extra payment gateway fee. If someone is engaged in famous plush resorts, such as Vanvaso Resort, Asiatic Lion Lodge, Club Mahindra Resort, then a Jeep can charge up to Rs 5000 per jeep safari with 6 persons.
The timings are categorized into two parts: morning safari and evening safari. Morning safari timing is again divided into early morning safari timing and mid-day safari timing. At 6:00 am, the early morning safari starts and continues till 9:00 am while mid-day safari starts from 9.00am and continues up till 12.00 noon.
It is best to take advantage of the morning safari because, during that time, the possibility of spotting wild animals is very much high. Evening safari starts at 3 pm and continues till 6 pm.
A Monsoon break is there in the park and during that time the park is closed and no safari is allowed, although the Devaliya Safari Zone remains open. The monsoon break starts from mid-June to mid-October. Every Wednesday of every week Devlia Safari Park is closed and no safaris are allowed.