in an area of 1424 sq. kms., Gir with its dry deciduous forest is a
luxuriantly rich ecosystem-endowed with floral and faunal plentitude.
Thirty species of mammals, twenty species of reptiles, several species
of insects and birds are found here. The forest is the only place in the
world, outside Africa, where the lion can be seen in its natural
habitat. Gir, the last refuge of the king of the jungle, is one of the
largest and most important wildlife sanctuaries in India.
The number of lions in Gir had dwindled
to a mere 15 by the turn of the century, due to extensive trophy
hunting. In the early 1900s the Nawab of Junagadh was advised by Lord
Curzon to protect the remaining lions. The lion was declared a protected
animal, although concerted conservation efforts started much later.
Best Time to Visit Gir Forest
enthusiasts can visit Gir park throughout the year, but the best period
to visit the Gir Sanctuary is between the months of November and June.
The forest also harbours a number of
smaller birds and animals. Other predators are the panther and the
hyena. The largest Indian deer, Sambhar, Chital (spotted deer), Nilgai
(blue bull), Chinkara and the unique Chowsingha (four horned antelope)
are found here along with the bear and the long tailed langur.
Few people know that Gir is also one of
the finest bird sanctuaries in India. Some of the typical birds of Gir
are the crested serpent eagle, crested hawk eagle, brown fish owl, king
vulture, jungle quail, paradise flycatcher, pygmy woodpecker, hard
headed oriole etc. Adholia, Valadera, Ratanghuna and Pilipat are
rewarding places for bird watching. Another attraction is a crocodile
farm developed in the forest.
Best Season -
On can visit the park from October to June and the best
recommended time is from December to April.