States of India
Gir Wildlife Santuary
Sprawling 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.
Asiatic Lion - Sasan Gir
The forest, was notified a wildlife sanctuary in 1969, and six years later, its core area of 140.4 sq. km, was constituted into a national park which has since been expanded to cover 258.71 sq km. With continuing efforts to save the species, the lion population has gone up to 312.
The Gir lion is a majestic animal averaging a full 2.75 metres in length, with a bigger tail tassel and a more prominent belly. He is more shaggy and lighter brown than the African lion. Unlike its African counterpart, the Gir lion never feeds on carrion.
Though known all over the world for its lions, Gir is one of the few remaining forests comprising different habitats - open scrub country, dry deciduous forest, tropical thorn forest and an evergreen corridor along the river banks. Among the common trees here are the stately teak, laburnum, acacia, tendu, ber, jamun, almosa, bael and twin leaved vikalo.