National Parks in India
Gir National Park information
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Gir National Park

The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest and wildlife sanctuary near Talala Gir in Gujarat, India. Established in 1965, with a total area of 1,412 km2 (545 sq mi) (about 258 km2 (100 sq mi) for the fully protected area of the national park and 1,153 km2 (445 sq mi) for the Sanctuary, the park is located 43 km (27 mi) north-east of Somnath, 65 km (40 mi) south-east of Junagadh and 60 km (37 mi) south-west of Amreli. Its region is the sole home of the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) in the wilderness, 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 were the hunting grounds of the Nawabs of Junagadh. However, faced with a drastic drop in the lion population in Gir, Nawab Sir Muhammad Rasul Khanji Babi declared Gir as a "protected" area in 1900. His son, Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khan III later assisted in the conservation of the lions whose population had plummeted to only 20 through slaughter for trophy hunting. The 14th Asiatic Lion Census 2015 was conducted in May 2015. In 2015, the population has been 523 (27% up compared to previous census in 2010). The population was 411 in 2010 and 359 in 2005. The population of lions in Junagadh District has been 268, Gir Somnath District has been 44, Amreli District has been 174 (highest increase) and Bhavangar District has been 37. There are 109 males, 201 females and 213 young/cubs. The Asiatic lion's habitat is dry scrub land and open deciduous forest. These lions were once found across northern Africa, south west Asia and northern Greece. The lion population which was 411 in 2010 has increased to 523 in 2015 and all of them are in or around the Gir Forest National Park. The first modern day count of lions was done by Mark Alexander Wynter-Blyth, the principal of Rajkumar College, Rajkot and R.S. Dharmakumarsinhji sometime between 1948 and 1963, probably early in his tenure as the principal during that period. 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 them. While most would see the lions as aggressive and dangerous, the lions of Gir rarely attack people. They live in a very close proximity to people, which makes their behavior different almost as if they have an acquaintanceship with the neighboring people. The lions who remember being hunted have now taken the higher road and stopped the circle of life.


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