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Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary
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The Gir - the largest compact tract of dry deciduous forests in the semi-arid western part of India is the last abode of the big and regal predator Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), an endangered species. The sanctuary is internationally acclaimed for successfully saving this precious species from the brink of extinction. It was declared as a sanctuary in 1965. Subsequently, an area of 258.71 sq. km. was declared a National Park.
Gir lies has a topography made up of succession of rugged ridges, isolated hills, plateaus and valleys. Besides, being the last abode of Asiatic lions, Gir forms a unique habitat for ratel, rusty spotted cat, pangolin, ruddy mongoose, civets, paradise flycatcher etc.
Location
The Sanctuary spreads over Junagadh and Amreli districts of Saurashtra. The main centre "Sasan" is located in Talala taluka of Junagadh district at about 60 km. from Junagadh.
National Park area
258.71 sq. Km.(Core Area)
Sanctuary area
1153.42 sq. Km
The overwhelming presence of the omnipotent big cat diverts the attention of the common man from the remarkable bird population that the sanctuary has. However, the birds of Gir sanctuary did attract the great ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali who believed that, had the Asiatic lions not been there, the area would have been one of the most fascinating bird sanctuaries of the country.
People mostly link Gir with "Maldharis" who have survived through the ages by having symbiotic relationship with the lion. They are religious pastoral communities living in Gir. Their settlements are called "nesses".
At present, Gir forests of Gujarat (India) is the only natural place where this race of lions i.e. Asiatic lion is found.
Unlike the other big cats, lion is tolerant of the presence of human being and it even lives near the human settlements. During the last century in British rule, lion population touched an all time low of 20 in 1913. The serious conservation efforts by the then Nawab of Junagadh saved the species from the brink of extinction. The subsequent efforts by the Forest Department have successfully brought the population to the present respectable status of 327 numbers of this majestic animal.
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