There was a time when the Asiatic lion roamed the wilds in India. There are proverbial tales of the Lion in Indian folk lore. The Lion is also a much respected emblem and was used by Emperor Ashoka as his symbol. After India gained independence the lion again features in most government symbols. Thus the lion is part of the Indian psyche for close to 2500 years.
But over a period of time the Lion has gone into decline. This is because of mass scale poaching and unrestricted hunting. The number of Lions dwindled so fast that had the government and wild life enthusiasts not intervened the Asiatic lion would have become extinct. But there is hope as a Lion reserve is created in Gujarat at Gir. Here the Lion lives a protected life and is slowly increasing in numbers.
The Asiatic Lion is a magnificent animal and it is a pleasure to behold it. The lion can be seen at the Gir forest sanctuary through a conducted tour. However bear in mind that travelers to the Gir Forest that you can’t choose when to see a lion; the lion chooses to see you.
The area of the lion reserve forest is inhabited by a few tribes as well, who have been educated not to harm the Lion. But once in a way the Lion is poached and that is a terrible thing. The Asiatic lion in the Gir is tamer than the earlier beasts that roamed over India. The game wardens keep a track of the beasts and their numbers and even provide game and food for them in case they are unable to hunt their natural prey like the Nilgai and deer.
The Asiatic lion is presently only at the Gir forest reserve. However some lions are reared in the Park at Banswada at Bangalore. Visiting the Gir forest reserve is an experience in itself. You can connect to Gir in Saurashtra easily by both air and road. The Forest has its own vehicles to transport you around. But in case you are heading there by road then you can use your own SUV.Do not venture inside the Jungle otherwise and without the local guides. Generally the Lions do not attack human beings in this forest, but it is best to keep a low profile and wait for the lion to appear. On my visit to the park I could sight a lion only on the second day when a pair of lions came into view. All in all a visit to the Gir Lion reserve is a wonderful experience.