Gir Forest National Park

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 2010 census recorded the lion-count in Gir at 411, an increase
of 52 compared to 2005. The lion breeding programme covering the
park and surrounding area has bred about 180 lions in captivity since its

 1 Climatic conditions
 2 Geography
o 2.1 Water reserves
o 2.2 Flora
 3 Wildlife
o 3.1 Asiatic Lion Habitat, Distribution and Population
o 3.2 The Lion breeding programme and lion-counting
o 3.3 Gir Interpretation Zone, Devalia
 4 Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project
 5 See also
 6 Notes
 7 References
 8 External links
Climatic conditions
In addition to the two seasons of summer and winter, Gir has a tropical
monsoon climate. It can become very hot during the summer, with noon
temperature reaching 43 °C or 109 °F, and humid during the monsoon in
June. In winter the temperature drops to about 10 °C or 50 °F. The
normal monsoon starts from mid-June and lasts till September, with the
annual rainfall ranging between 600 mm and 1000 mm. However,
because of the irregular monsoon and uneven distribution of rainfall
across the peninsula, drought years are common.
The park and the sanctuary remain closed, from June to mid-October,
but the cool and dry weather between late-November and early-March is
the recommended visiting period. During this period it is easier to sight
the wildlife in the open.

Gir National Park and Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Water reserves
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 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
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, Great Horned Owl, Bush Quail (or Quailbush), Pygmy
Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Crested Treeswift and Indian Pitta.
The Indian Grey Hornbill was not found in the last census of 2001.
Asiatic Lion Habitat, Distribution and Population

Asiatic Lion at Gir
The Asiatic Lions habitat is dry scrubland and open deciduous forest.
These lions were once found across northern Africa, south west Asia and
northern Greece. Now there are only around 350 left in the wild and all
of them are in the Gir Forest National Park.
Even though the Gir Forest is well protected, there are instances of
Asiatic Lions being poached. They have also been poisoned for
attacking livestock. Some of the other threats include floods, fires and
the possibility of epidemics and natural calamities. Gir nonetheless
remains the most promising long term preserve for the lions as they are
thriving in the park.
The Lion breeding programme and lion-counting
Year Count Male:Female:Cub
1968 177 -
1974 180 -
1979 205 76:100:85
1984 239 88:100:64
1990 284 82:100:67
1995 304 94:100:71
2000 327 -
2005 359 -
2010 411 97:162:152
The Lion Breeding Programme creates and maintains breeding centres.
It also carries out studies of the behaviour of the Asiatic lions and also
practices artificial insemination. One such centre has been established in
the Sakkarbaug Zoo at the district headquarters of Junagadh, which has
successfully bred about 180 lions. 126 pure Asiatic lions have been
given to zoos in India and abroad.
The census of lions takes place every five years. Previously indirect
methods like using pugmarks of the lion were adopted for the count.
However, during the census of April 2005 (which originally was
scheduled for 2006, but was advanced following the reports and
controversy over vanishing tigers in India), "Block-Direct-Total Count"
method was employed with the help of around 1,000 forest officials,
experts and volunteers. It means that only those lions were counted that
were "spotted" visually. Use of "live bait" (a prey that is alive and used
as a bait) for the exercise, though thought to be a traditional practice,
was not used this time. The reason believed to be behind this is the
Gujarat High Court ruling of 2000 against such a use of animals.

Gir Interpretation Zone, Devalia
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. Typically the inside
population of the zone includes about 100 spotted deer, about 100 Nilgai
(or Bluebull), about 15 wild boars, about half a dozen sambars and
blackbucks, and other mammal and reptilian species along with birds. In
addition limited number of tourists are allowed into the sanctuary on
designated routes. The best time to visit the area is outside the monsoon
Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project
Main articles: Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project and Kuno Wildlife
Work has been going on over the past decade to establish the world's
second completely removed population of the wild free ranging Asiatic
Lions. Wildlife Institute of India researchers confirmed that the Palpur-
Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary is the most promising location to re-establish a
free ranging population of the Asiatic lions and certified it ready to
receive its first batch of translocated lions
from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
where they are highly overpopulated. Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary was
selected as the reintroduction site for critically endangered Asiatic lion
because it is in the former range of the lions before it was hunted into
extinction in about 1873.

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