The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir) was established in 1965, with a total area of 1412 km².
Gir is the sole home of the Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica) and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species.
We rented an open Gypsy from Sinh Sadan for Rs 1350. The safaris last for about 3 hours. They open the park at 7 AM. The last safari is at 3:30 PM. We ended up going for both these safaris.
The landscape varies from rocky dry scrubland to open deciduous forests.
There a quite few natural watering holes in Gir. However, most of them dry up in the summer and the Parks Dept ends up providing watering stations at various points in the Park. This makes it easy to spot Lions in the summer, since they tend to linger around these stations.
The park has a lot of peacocks. Though, all of them have their tails trimmed off.
The Chital or Spotted deer is the most common deer species in Indian forests. There are about 40,000 Chitals in Gir.
Its antlers, which it sheds annually, are usually three-pronged and curve in a lyre shape and may extend to 2.5 ft.
Males sporting hard antlers are dominant over those in velvet or those without antlers, irrespective of their size and other factors.
Herds of Chital deer and troops of the Northern Plains Gray Langur have a strange relationship. Chitals apparently benefit from the langurs’ good eyesight and ability to post a lookout on a treetop. For the langurs’ part, the Chital’s superior sense of smell assists in early predator warning, and it is common to see langurs foraging on the ground in the presence of Chitals. The Chitals also benefit from fruits dropped by the langurs from the trees.
Langurs are gray, with a black face. In Indian mythology, this is because Hanuman, a monkey warrior, burnt his hands and face trying to rescue Lord Rama’s wife.
The Sambar Deer is the most widely spread deer species in the world, covering many countries in Asia.
Its alarm call is taken very seriously, unlike that of the spotted or barking deer, by anyone interested in knowing the whereabouts of a predator. A repeated call is accepted as a definite indicator.
Although the Sambar deer is found in almost every corner of India, some of the best parks to sight this animal in are Kanha, Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Gir, Dudhwa, Manas, Kaziranga and Sariska.
It was only towards the end of the evening safari that we spotted a lion sitting right next to the road.
After a while, it got irritated and moved to the other side of the road.
Even though the Gir Forest is well protected, there are instances of Asiatic Lions being poached. They have also been poisoned for attacking livestock. Gir nonetheless remains the most promising long term preserve for the lions as they are thriving in the park.