Distance : 66 km from Junagadh
Attraction : Asiatic Lions
Best Time to Visit : November to March
Gir National Park has a sprawling area of 1412 sq. km. It was established in the year 1965 and is located about 65 km to the south-east of the Junagadh city of Gujarat. The forest area of Gir was initially protected by the Nawab of the princely state of Junagadh. The wildlife sanctuary was established to put a stop to the alarming rate of Lion hunting. The population of lions dropped to as low as 15. After this, Lion was declared as a protected animal. This initiative considerably helped in the conservation of the species in the region.
Gir Wildlife Sanctuary of India is the only place after Africa where Lions can be seen in their natural habitat. It is one of the biggest and important sanctuaries in India. Apart from Lions, Gir is also home to a number of Leopards. It houses the maximum number of Leopards in comparison to any other park in the nation. During the summer months, they can even be seen near the lodges at night. If you are an adventure freak, then make sure to experience the wildlife at its best, via a Jeep safari.
It will give you an opportunity to have a closer look at the animals, especially during early mornings and evenings. The thrilling experience will leave you completely spellbound. Gir National Park is maintained by the Forest Department of Gujarat and it serves as an important biological research center, which holds scientific, educational, recreational and aesthetic importance. Lion breeding programs are also conducted here to increase the population of the Lions. Since its inception, the breeding centers at Gir Wildlife Park, and others nearby, have bred approximately 180 Lions so far. Gir has a rich flora and fauna and is laden with dry deciduous forests.
Around thirty species of mammals, twenty species of reptiles and several species of insects and birds are found here. Only few people know that Gir National Park also boasts of one of the finest bird sanctuaries in India. A number of unique birds can be seen here like Paradise Flycatcher, Bonneli's Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Woodpeckers Flamingo etc. Apart from this the forest is home to Sambar Deer, Chital Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Chowsingha, Chinkara, Wild Boar, Long-tailed Langur, Jackal, Hyena and Panther. Another attraction is a crocodile farm developed in the forest.