Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is counted among the finest wildlife sanctuaries of India। The only known home of the world-famous Asiatic Lions in Asia, Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Indian state of Gujarat। Spread over an area of approximately 1,412 sq km, Sasangir Wildlife Sanctuary has been home to Asiatic Lions since 1884. Due to a severe drought and excessive hunting in the beginning of the 20th century, this majestic creature reached on the verge of extinction. Thanks to the efforts made by the then Nawab of Junagadh, who banned all hunting in the area, they survived and their number started to grow slowly. After independence of the country, the government of India also paid special attention towards their conservation and on 18th September 1965 the area was declared a protected Forest Reserve. Sasangir Wildlife Sanctuary attained the status of a National Park in 1975. In addition to Sasan Gir Forest Reserve, Sasangir National Park is made up of three adjoining reserves - the Nalsarovar Lake and Sanctuary inhabiting a wide variety of water birds; the Little Rann of Kutch, famous for the Indian Wild Ass; and the captivating Flamingo Island, making Sasan Gir a perfect wildlife destination. Popularly known as Gir National Park, the sanctuary attracts thousands of wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. According to recent surveys, the number of Asiatic Lions in Sasangir National Park stands around 327 (May 2002).

The rugged topography and a moderate and favorable climate support a wide variety of flora and fauna in Sasan Gir National Park. The vegetation in Sasangir chiefly comprises of dry deciduous forests dominated by short and gnarled teak trees, thorn bushes and grassland. Sasan Gir National Park supports over 450 plant species, 32 mammals, 310 birds, 24 reptiles and over 2,000 species of insects. Though, Sasangir is known for Asiatic Lions, the park also harbors a sizable population of Leopards (285 in May 2002), who are more visible here than in other wildlife sanctuaries of India. Other important and commonly noticed mammals in Sasangir are Spotted Deer or Chital (numbering about 30, 000), Antelopes, Striped Hyenas, Jackals, Nilgai, Sambar, Antelope, Chausingha or Four-Horned Antelope, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Ruddy Mongoose, Langurs, Jungle Cats, Indian Porcupine, Chinkara, Gazelles and Crocodiles to name a few.
Sasangir Park also supports and shelters a sizable number of bird population. Major birds found in the Sasangir include Peafowl, Peacocks, Parrots, Raptors, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Black Ibis, Paradise Flycatcher, Honey Buzzard, Redheaded Merlin, Bonelli's Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Painted Sandgrouse, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Spotted dove, Spotted Owlet, Flycatchers, Woodpeckers, Flamingo etc.
One of the major attractions for tourists visiting Sasan Gir National Park is to enjoy a lion safari. Jeep safari is the most enjoyable and convenient way to explore the rich and varied wildlife of Sasangir Wildlife Sanctuary and is very popular among tourists here. A lion safari in the Gir Interpretation Zone (4 sq km area in the park) almost guarantees a lion sighting. In addition several watchtowers and hides have been raised near waterholes, to enjoy a close sights of the lions and other wilds of the sanctuary.
Best Time to Visit
Though, the best season to visit Sasangir is from November to June, one can visit Sasan Gir National Park throughout the year.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport from Sasan Gir National Park is Keshod (86 km). Other close airports are Diu (100km), Porbander (160 km) and Rajkot (160 km).
By Rail: The nearest railway junction from the sanctuary is the Sasangir Railway Station (1 Km). Many regular trains connect it to Veraval and Junagarh.
By Road: The nearest town from Sasan Gir National Park is Veraval (32 km and Junagarh (64 km), which are well connected by road to major cities of India.

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