The Gir Forest

 

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 km (545 sq mi) (about 258 km2 (100 sq mi) for the fully protected area of the national park and 1,153 km (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 ecoregion is that of Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests, which not only includes Kathiawar Peninsula, where the forest is located, but also other places, like Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan.


Its region is the sole home of the Asiatic lion (Pantheraleopersica) 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 RasulKhanji 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.