The Gir Sanctuary is the only refuge of Asiatic lions. Experience the unique flora and fauna in the verdant environs of this wildlife park.
A lion is the king of the jungle and the pride of the forest. Have you
ever gone beyond the pictures in books to come face-to-face with the
majestic aura of a lion? You can do so at the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary,
arguably the most famous lion sanctuary in India. Apart from Asiatic lions, leopards and chowsingha
(the four-horned antelope) are other major attractions. Your children
will truly delight in breathing the forest air and hearing a lion's
roar. A sanctuary visit is an excellent way to get them in touch with nature, and view animals in their natural surroundings, unlike in a zoo.
The Gir Sanctuary came into existence with the purpose of protecting
the little left of the lion population outside of Africa. In 1913,
there was a sharp decline in the number of lions in the sanctuary,
dropping to just 20. Since then, the situation has improved and today
we have about 300 lions here. The Asiatic lion is a little smaller in size than its African cousin and so is its mane. Today, these animals are found only in the Gir Sanctuary.
Next to the lion, leopards are the dominant species at Gir. To
complement these regal animals, one can also spot deer and antelopes
like sambar, chital or the spotted deer, nilgai antelope, chowsingha or the four-horned antelope, and chinkara gazelle. Less noble than these animals, but as fascinating, are the wild boar, langur,
jackal, and hyena. The sight of paradise flycatchers, Bonneli's eagles,
crested serpent eagles, woodpeckers, and flamingos flitting among the
trees will enchant bird enthusiasts and ornithologists. The rivers and
streams of Gir are a treasure-trove of wildlife as well. More than 25
species of reptiles have been identified. The most famous is the marsh
crocodile, which sprawls lazily along the rivers.
Not Just Fauna
The sanctuary has much to offer for the nature lover. It is a mixed deciduous forest with a flora consisting of teak, flame of the forest, acacia, and
banyan among others. The vegetation found along its rivers and streams
is distinctive of the region. A variety of broad-leaved and evergreen
tree species like jambu, karanj, umro, vad, kalam, charal, sirus, and amli add to the lush beauty. The foliage endows the sanctuary with a perennial coolness and moisture.
Where, When, How
The sanctuary is located 42 kilometres from Junagadh in South-western
Gujarat. It covers a huge area of 1,412.13 square kilometres. The
sanctuary is open to wildlife aficionados all around the year but the
best time to visit is between November and June. One can stay at jungle
lodges and guesthouses. You can plan your own itinerary or choose from
numerous travel packages. To get the most out of your sanctuary visit, go on a jeep safari trip. The best times for spotting the big cats are at dawn and dusk, in their natural habitat.
By Air: Keshod is the airport closest to Gir, 90 kilometres via Veraval. Flights are available from most metro cities.
By Rail: You can reach Gir by the meter-gauge rail line of 395 kilometres from Ahmedabad.
By Road: Gir is 400 kilometres away from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda. If you visit between November and June, you can
avail of state transport buses from Junagadh and Veraval to Gir.
Be a Good Visitor
A few pointers to have a hassle-free experience:
You can only view
the animals from a vehicle. Walking and hiking is prohibited for
visitors' security. Neither is camping or picnicking in the park
Do not disturb the nocturnal animals during the day as that is when they sleep.
Do not tease or irritate the animals in any way. They deserve as much respect as humans do.
Flash or intrusive photography is generally not permitted.
It is preferable to avoid smoking in the park.
Picking plants and insects will incur strict action.
It is advisable to wear loose and simple clothes that merge with the surroundings.
Do not travel alone, have official guides accompany you to the park.
Remember to carry enough water with you.
The sad truth is that lions are fast on the verge of extinction. Once
found in large numbers all over the world, today they are a precious
few. Urgent efforts are needed to save this regal heritage. You may not
be able to move mountains but by visiting sanctuaries, you can definitely show your support and concern. In the process, you also get to experience the passion of the wild.
Sorry. Due to our site's regulations and policies, your message has not been posted. Our moderating team has been notified about your message. If the message is found to be genuine and still did not get posted, you may not post the message again as it will automatically get posted for you within 24hrs time (excluding weekends).
- The Indiaparenting Team
Have you ever looked into a lion´ s eyes? What do you think is ´ animal instinct´ ? How do you think sanctuaries help preserve biodiversity? What should be done to ensure that your grandchildren have real lions to look at? What would you do to save lions?