Wildlife in Sasan Gir National Park
about 65km SE of Junagarh district in the state of Gujarat in South
West India, the Sasan Gir National Park was established on 18th
September, 1965, as a Forest Reserve, primarily to conserve the
Asiatic lion-classified as one of the World's most threatened species.
Now Gir National Park is the only remaining place in the world, where
one is likely to see the Asiatic Lion. The sanctuary covers a total
area of 1,412 sq. km of which 258 sq.km at the core forms the National
park. Permits are required to enter this part of the sanctuary.
The land is rugged with deep ravines, steep rocky hills and plenty of
rivers. The vegetation, mainly along the main rivers and streams is
mixed deciduous, with Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees,
interspersed with large patches of grasslands and offers the visitor
long pleasant drives, through the thick forest cover. These trees are
mostly broad leaved and evergreen, giving the area a cool shade and
moisture content. The Gir forest is dry for most of the year with
scrub trees, like babul and few flowering trees. Prosopis and
Casuarina have been planted in the coastal border as part of the
The Asiatic lion once had a wide range in natural territory running
from North West India through Persia to Arabia. But unfortunately
hunted as a coveted trophy item during the British Raj era, it is now
only found in the Gir forest of Gujarat. The famine of 1899 so
decimated the Asiatic lion population that Lord Curzon cancelled his
shoot at Gir, where he was staying as the guest of Nawab Junagadh.
Curzon persuaded the Nawab to protect the remaining lions. In 1965,
the India Government declared this place as a National park. The lion
population which had sunk to an alarming two dozen in the early 20th
century has slowly climbed over the years since, and now numbers about
Within the sanctuary, there are numerous human settlements of cattle
herders called Maldharis. There are also places of Hindu worship and
pilgrimage and sulphur springs at Tulsi Shyam and Kankai Mata. At the
edge of the park there are good populations of Indian Gazelle,
protected by the religious sentiment of the local people.