Gir – The Last Bastion

21 March  |  Adventure & Travel

A Lion on the Edge

Image Source – Akshartours

A majestic beast that once roamed the ranges of East Europe, Asia Minor and across the sub-continent, the Asiatic lion is now an animal that is found only on the crests and the legends of old empires in its former territories. It survives though to this date in a corner of India, where it is revered and protected in the world famous Gir National Park in Gujarat. The Asiatic lion can be distinguished from its more chronicled African cousin by its relatively smaller size, lesser mane growth and a more prominent tuft at the end of the tail. More than 500 individual lions exist today in Gir, a precarious number, the risks highly multiplied as it is also a single population.

Gir Forest

Gujarat’s thorny forests and savannah provide the stage for Asiatic lions, whose favourite meal is the chital deer. The Gir Reserve is also home to some of the most unique and endemic species of Western India including leopards, striped hyenas, various wild cats and other deer and herbivore species along with many bird species.

History of Gir

Image Source – magazine.geographic

A trip to the former hunting grounds of the Junagadh Nawabs is an experience that can never be forgotten as you can witness up close, one of the rarest big cats in the world. Hunted to the edge of extinction, the population of lions in Gir was brought back from a little more than a dozen. Declared a protected area by its erstwhile rulers in 1900, the 1400 square kilometre area became a part of India’s modern National Park system in the year 1965. There are many facilities for travellers in certain zones around the Gir Forest Reserve. Perfect for family trips and excursions with friends, the foliage and vegetation of the forest also makes animal sightings more probable and memorable. Being part of the same eco-system that covers the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, Gir presents the untouched beauty of India’s dry forests.

Save Lion Campaign

The Save Lion campaign saw the mobilisation of more than 1500 villages in Gujarat in August 2016 with an aim to create more awareness of the challenges of lion conservation in India. The best possible way to contribute to the reserve’s efforts would be to visit Gir forest, as the revenues go a long way in ensuring the protection of the animals and the well-being of the staff who work in the expansive forest range. Awareness is the seed of all conservation efforts and as wildlife enthusiasts or someone who cares about animals, just talking about the Asiatic lion with those unfamiliar with the topic will play an important part as India tries to save one of its flagship species.

Nearer Options

Gir may be a little far off for a corporate day outing or quick overnight trip, so if you are looking for choices of getaways closer to Bangalore city, then you can also experience some wilderness in Masinagudi resorts and Bandipur resorts, areas famous for many wild species and beautiful natural terrain.

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