Sasan Gir National Park was established in 1965 with the primary goal of conserving the dwindling population of Asiatic lions. It has been a huge success. There were only 18 of these wonderful creatures counted here in 1913, the last place on the planet where you can see them in their natural habitat, but they are now thriving, with a population of around 523. It is India's largest cat sanctuary, with a diverse range of wildlife and a historical atmosphere that is sure to entice you.
The park is about 65 kilometres southeast of Junagadh City, in Gujarat's Junagadh District. Only about 10% of the park is forested, with teak, flame of the forest, ber, and a variety of acacia trees, and it does appear a little run-down. This vegetation, on the other hand, is representative of the original vegetation and provides a suitable habitat for tawny Asiatic lions. Rivers and streams cut through the low, undulating hills, creating deep valleys and rocky elevations.
The rulers of Indian princely states used to invite British colonists on hunting expeditions in the nineteenth century. Only about a dozen Asiatic lions remained in India at the end of the nineteenth century, all of them in the Gir Forest, which was part of the Nawab of Junagarh's private hunting grounds. The Muslim Nawab of Junagadh, who established the sanctuary, was alerted to the drastic decline of the lion population in Gir by British viceroys. It is now the only place in Asia where Asiatic lions can be found, and it is one of Asia's most important protected areas due to its biodiversity. The Gir ecosystem, with its diverse flora and fauna, is protected as a result of government forest department, wildlife activists, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) efforts. It is now regarded as the crown jewel of Gujarat's natural resources.
Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, and Raval are some of the Gir region's major perennial rivers. The area's four reservoirs are located at four dams, one on each of the Hiran, Machhundri, Raval, and Shingoda rivers, including the Kamleshwar Dam, dubbed 'the lifeline of Gir.'
Nonetheless, among the wildlife, Gir is home to some spectacular flora that is both rich and diverse. Gir, which is dominated by mixed deciduous forests as well as evergreen and semi-evergreen trees, has lush vegetation that is a sight to behold. Flame of the Forest, Teak, Acacia, Zizyphas, Tendu, Jamun, Banyan, and DHak are some of the most common trees found here. Teak, on the other hand, makes up about half of the park's total vegetation. The majority of the plant species are broad-leaved trees, which help to keep the park's moisture content stable. Gir National Park is also one of the most important biological research areas in the world, contributing significantly to scientific progress.
Gir has a total of 2,375 fauna species, including 38 mammalian species, 300 bird species, 37 reptile species, and over 2,000 insect species.
The Asiatic lion, Indian leopard, jungle cat, striped hyena, golden jackal, Bengal fox, Indian grey and ruddy mongoose, and honey badger are among the carnivores. The Asiatic wildcat and the rusty-spotted cat are both found in the area, but they are rarely seen.
Chital, nilgai, sambar, four-horned antelope, chinkara, and wild boar are the main herbivores of Gir. The sanctuary is occasionally visited by blackbucks from the surrounding area. Porcupine and hare are common among smaller mammals, but pangolins are uncommon.
The mugger crocodile, Indian cobra, tortoise, and monitor lizard are reptiles that live in the sanctuary's bodies of water. Snakes can be found in the woods and in the bush. Along the stream banks, pythons are occasionally seen. The Gujarat State Forest Department used Gir when it established the Indian Crocodile Conservation Project in 1977, releasing nearly 1000 marsh crocodiles into Lake Kamaleshwar and other small bodies of water in and around Gir.
More than 300 species of birds, the majority of which are resident, make up the abundant avifauna population. There are six species of vultures in the scavenger group of birds. Crested serpent eagle, endangered Bonelli's eagle, changeable hawk-eagle, brown fish owl, Indian eagle-owl, rock bush-quail, Indian peafowl, brown-capped pygmy woodpecker, black-headed oriole, crested treeswift, and Indian pitta are some of the typical species of Gir. The Indian grey hornbill was not discovered in the 2001 census.
There is no designated tourist area in Gir National Park and Sanctuary. An Interpretation Zone has been established at Devalia within the sanctuary to reduce the risk of tourism to the wildlife and to promote nature education. With its feeding-cum-living cages for carnivores and a double-gate entry system, it covers all habitat types and wildlife of Gir within its chained fences.