The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest and wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India. Established in 1965, with a total area of 1412 km2 (about 258 km2 for the fully protected area (the national park) and 1153 km2 for the Sanctuary), the park is located 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh and 60 km to south west of Amreli.
It is the sole home of the pure Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica) and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. The ecosystem of Gir, with its diverse flora and fauna, is protected as a result of the efforts of the government forest department, wildlife activists and NGOs. The forest area of Gir and its lions were declared as "protected" in the early 1900s by the then Nawab of the princely state of Junagadh. This initiative assisted in the conservation of the lions whose population had plummeted to only 15 through slaughter for trophy hunting.
varied topography results in an abundance of indigenous fauna and flora. There are
110 tree species, 37 species of grass and bamboo, 50 mammals, 25 reptiles. Due to
its location Corbett is the only Indian National Park where the Himalayan black
bear, Himalayan palm civet and the Ghoral are found, but they are rarely seen.
The count of 2,375 distinct fauna species of Gir includes about 38 species of mammals, around 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and more than 2,000 species of insects. The carnivores group mainly comprises Asiatic lions, Indian Leopards, Sloth bears, Indian Cobras, Jungle cats, Striped Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose, Indian Palm Civets, and Ratels. Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats exist but are rarely seen.
The main herbivores of Gir are Chital, Nilgai (or Bluebull), Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara and Wild boar. Blackbucks from the surrounding area are sometimes seen in the sanctuary. Among the smaller mammals, Porcupine and Hare are common but the Pangolin is rare. The reptiles are represented by the mugger Marsh crocodile (highest population among all protected areas in India), the Indian Star Tortoise and the Monitor Lizard in the water areas of the sanctuary. Snakes are found in the bushes and forest. Pythons are sighted at times along the stream banks. Gir has been used by the Gujarat State Forest Department which adopted the Indian Crocodile Conservation Project in 1977 and released close to 1000 Marsh crocodile reared in Gir rearing centre into the Kamaleshwar lake and other reservoirs and small water bodies in and around Gir.
The plentiful avifauna population has more than 300 species of birds, most of which are resident. The scavenger group of birds has 6 recorded species of Vultures. Some of the typical species of Gir include Crested Serpent Eagle, endangered Bonelli's Eagle, Crested Hawk-eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Eagle-Owl, Rock Bush-Quail, Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Crested Treeswift and Indian Pitta. The Indian Grey Hornbill was not found in the last census of 2001.
Gir National Park and Sanctuary does not have a designated area for tourists. However, to reduce the tourism hazard to the wildlife and to promote nature education, an Interpretation Zone has been created at Devalia within the sanctuary. Within its chained fences, it covers all habitat types and wildlife of Gir with its feeding-cum-living cages for the carnivores and a double-gate entry system.