Gir Travel Guide
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, 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.
A panorama of the reservoir
The seven major perennial rivers of the Gir region are Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari and Raval. The four reservoirs of the area are at four dams, one each on Hiran, Machhundri, Raval and Shingoda rivers, including the biggest reservoir in the area, the Kamleshwar Dam, dubbed 'the lifeline of Gir'.
During peak summer, surface water for wild animals is available at about 300 water points. When drought hits the area following a poor rainfall, surface water is not available at a majority of these points, and water scarcity becomes a serious problem (mainly in the eastern part of the sanctuary). Ensuring the availability of water during peak summer is one of the major tasks of the Forest Department staff.
More than 400 plant species were recorded in the survey of Gir forest by Samtapau & Raizada in 1955. The Botany department of M.S. University of Baroda has revised the count to 507 during their survey. According to the 1964 forest type classification by Champion & Sheth, the Gir forest falls under "5A/C-1a—very dry teak forest" classification. Teak occurs mixed with dry deciduous species. The degradation stages (DS) sub-types are thus derived as: 1) 5/DS1-Dry deciduous scrub forest and 2) 5/DS1-Dry savannah forests (Locally known as "vidis"). It is the largest dry deciduous forest in western India.
Teak bearing areas are mainly in the eastern portion of the forest, which constitutes nearly half of the total area.
The forest is an important biological research area with considerable scientific, educational, aesthetic and recreational values. It provides nearly 5 million kilograms of green grass by annual harvesting, which is valued approximately at Rs. 50 crores (Rs. 500,000,000) (US$ 10 million). The forest provides nearly 15,000 metric tons worth of fuel wood annually.
the Gir forest
The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir and गिर वन) 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.
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.
The April 2005 census recorded the lion-count in Gir at 359, an increase of 32 compared to 2001. The lion breeding programme covering the park and surrounding area has bred about 180 lions in captivity since its inception.