Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sasan Gir: the Last Refuge of the Asiatic Lions

Sasan Gir: the Last Refuge of the Asiatic Lions

Wildlife reserves and national parks have always fascinated me and I have left no opportunity to visit them. Among the many national parks of India the name of the Sasan Gir National Park, also called the Gir National Park, occupies an important place. The only surviving habitat of the Asiatic Lions (300-odd) in the world, the Sasan Gir National Park is in Gujarat, India.

Spread over an area of 1412 sq km, the Sasan Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary has a protected area of 258 sq km. Actually, the national park is considered to be one of the most protected areas in Asia.

Sasan Gir has several species of flora and fauna including more than 400 plant species. The national park is mainly hilly and has dry deciduous type forest. Teak, Acacia, Jamun and Dhak trees dominate the landscapes of the wildlife sanctuary through which seven major rivers flow much adding to the beauty of the area.

The national park also has about 38 species of mammals. This include, among others, panther, leopard, hyena, Indian Deer, sambar, spotted deer, blue bull, four-horned antelope, bear, desert cat, and rusty-spotted deer, apart from, of course, the Asiatic Lions-- the pride of Sasan Gir.

Incidentally, apart from boasting of the best lion population in Asia, Gir also has one of the largest leopard populations in the country. I was lucky to come across several of them inside Gir. What’s more: with more than 300 species of birds that include, among others, crested serpent eagle, brown fish owl, pea fowl, painted sand grouse, pygmy woodpecker, great horned owl, bonelli’s eagle, grey partridge, and bush quail, the wildlife sanctuary is also a haven for the bird watchers.

How to reach

Gir is 895 km away from Ahmedabad and 160 km away from Rajkot which are big cities of Gujarat. It is well connected by rail, road and air. The nearest airport is at Keshod which is 100 km away from Sasan Gir, and the nearest rail head is at Junagadh which is 65 km away.

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