Information about the Gir National Park :
The Gir National Park and wildlife sanctuary is located about 65 km south east in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. Gir National Park is one of the Indias finest wildlife sanctuaries located in Gujarat. This national park is set up in an area of 1412 square km. of lush deciduous forests. This national park was established on 18th September 1965 as a Forest Reserve to conserve the Asiatic lion. This sanctuary is the final refuge of the rare Asian lions which roamed freely two centuries ago throughout Middle East and some parts of India. Sasan, with a forest rest house, is the headquarters of the sanctuary.
Various deciduous forests, grasslands, acacia scrub, wetlands and the seven rivers forms the topography of this wildlife sanctuary.
History of Gir National Park :
Since 1884, Gir National Park has been the only habitat of the Asiatic lion. During the British Raj, lions were hunted mercilessly by the British officers assisted by the obliging Maharajas and Nawabs. Every Maharaja was proud of the number of lions or tigers he killed during his lifetime. In the year 1899 the famine decreased the lion population so badly that Lord Curzon cancelled his shoot in Gir where he had been invited by the Nawab for a Shikaar. The Lord Curzon also advised the ruler to protect the remaining lions. By the time India achieved independence, the number of lions get increased, but they were once again hunted by the Maharajas. The Government of India banned the hunting of lion in the mid 1960 and now this park is open only for the photo safaris. The Gir National Park later became a major tourist attraction in India. About 300 lions are found in this park.
Wildlife Attractions in the Gir National Park :
The main wildlife attraction in the Gir National Park is the lion. Besides lion, various variety of wild animals are found in this park which are the Wild boar, Bear, Panther, Jackal, Sambar, Spotted deer, Striped Hyena, Leopard, Nilgai, Chinkara gazelle, Jungle cat, Black napped hare, Common langur, Porcupine, Langur, Blackbuck, Mongoose and the Indian Chousingha, the four horned antelope. The rusty spotted cat has been recorded in the Gir. During monsoons, about 200 varieties of birds can also be seen in this park including the peafowl, grey partridge, Bonellis eagle, crested serpent eagle, jungle bush quail, painted sandgrouse, common green pigeon and several species of doves. Gir is also home of the marsh crocodile, which can be sighted easily in its rivers, particularly in the lake of the Kamaleshwar dam. There is also a crocodile breeding farm at Sasan.
Jungle Safari in the Gir National Park :
You can visit the Gir National park by having a jeep ride with a guide. The Gir Forest Department also organize “Lion Shows”. They make sure that you can see the lions at close range so they send trackers early morning on a mission to the located places and tempt them with live baits.
Best time to visit the Gir National Park :
The Gir National Park is open from the mid of October to mid of June. November, January and February are the best months to visit the sanctuary. However the best time to view the lions, in their natural surroundings is early in the morning or after 4 p.m. It is during this time that the animals are most active and can be easily spotted.
Crocodile Rearing Centre :
The centres main role is to breed crocodiles for reintroduction to the wild.
Interpretation Park, Devalia :
An excellent microcosm of the vast Gir National Park, this scaled down version covers four sq. km. in nearby Devalia. Visit it for a cross section of wildlife Girs animals in their natural habitat.
Orientation Centre :
Located within Sasans guesthouse campus, the centre is a good place to understand more of the parks inhabitants with interesting dioramas, images and clay models.
The manmade reservoir is home to a large population of crocodiles. Take a look but do not enter the water.
In the heart of the jungle, 50 km from Sasan Gir, there is a shrine to Kankai Mata, the benefactor of the shepherds of Gir forest. A supremely wild place, here you can hear lions roar at night and animals gathering at the nearby lake. There is a bus from Junagadh every morning that leaves at 8am, stays one hour at the temple, and departs on the return journey at 9:45am. But to really experience the place, go with private transport and stay the night. The high temple walls ensure your safety, and once night falls, you can watch the stars through the jungle treetops, hear lions roaming outside and experience a night in the true wilderness.