Gir National Park is located at Junagadh District, Gujarat. It has a total land area of 1,414 square kilometers. The national park’s area is divided into two: the 1,153 square kilometers is the wildlife sanctuary; and the 258 square kilometer is the fully protected area.
This attraction is the home of Asiatic Lions, which are incidentally also the main attraction here. Unlike in some other national parks in India where tigers are protected; here, the population of the Asiatic lions is rehabilitated.
Brief History of Gir National Park’s Lion Population
The lions habituating in the area were hunted before this was transformed into a national park. The hunting was later on prohibited when its population significantly decreased, and a program to protect these lions was initiated.
The sanctuary was then established in 1965. The government of Junagadh declared the lions and the forest area of the park as protected. There were only a total of 15 tigers when the rehabilitation started. In 2001, the population grew to 338. In April of 2005 the numbers increased to 359.
The Wildlife of Gir National Park
The wildlife in Gir National Park is abundant. There are a lot of animals that benefit in its richness. Aside from the lions of Gir National Park, there are also black-naped Indian hare, porcupine, langur, rusty-spotted cat and the jungle cat, striped hyena, jackal as well as the wild boar, Indian gazelle or chinkara and the chousingha, the only four-horned antelope. You can also include the blue bull or nilgai, spotted deer or chital, leopard, and the sambar.
There are also huge populations of the mugger or marsh crocodile which can be found at the Kamleshwar Dam. Their record shows that there are almost 40 combined species of amphibians and reptiles.
The bird species are estimated to 250. These include the nightjars, spotted owlet, Eurasian eagle owl, brown fish owl and the white-eyed buzzard, oriental honey-buzzard, red-headed falcon and the laggar falcon.
Visitors may also see the peregrine falcon, osprey and the grey-headed fish eagle. Other eagles are the palla’s fish, imperial, steppe and the tawny, lesser spotted, greater spotted, bonneli’s, crested serpent, and changeable hawk eagle.
The eurasian griffon vulture and the king vulture completes the list. Other bird species would be the Indian white-backed vulture, long-billed vulture, yellow-footed green pigeon, rufuos treepie, marshals and the common iora among others.
The plant species in this national park is estimated to 507. The dominant tree in this forest is the teak. It covers almost half of the forest’s area. Aside from supporting the needs of the wildlife, the local villages also benefit from this forest. It was estimated that, the forest can provide tons of fuel wood, and an annual grass harvesting will generate 500,000,000 INR or 10,000,000 USD.
The wildlife is also supported by 7 rivers. These bodies of water are key factors in continuously supporting the wild. On the other hand, when drought season comes, there are areas where water is not available. Still, the forest department of the national park is dealing with this problem.
Gir National Park’s Wildlife Protection Call
We cannot deny the fact that taking care of the wildlife is not an easy task. Aside from the government funding that the park received, effort must also come from the people. One of the reasons why there is depopulation among the wildlife is because of the people. Abusive type of people is always and will always be present in this kind of areas. Poaching is a national park’s problem. People must be educated about this kind of activities.
Visit national parks, especially the lions of Gir National Park to learn more about wildlife preservation. Bring along your children so that they can appreciate the beauty of nature at an early age. Teach and educate them about the importance of preserving nature.