Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Gir National Park

Gir National Park UPSC

Gir National Park, also known as Sasan Gir, is a wildlife sanctuary and national park located in the state of Gujarat, India. It is renowned as the last natural habitat of the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) in India. 


Established in 1965, Gir National Park covers an area of approximately 1,412 square kilometers (545 square miles) of diverse ecosystems, including deciduous forests, scrublands, grasslands, and rocky hills.


The Gir National Park also houses a crocodile breeding center. It offers a chance to witness different species of crocodiles, including the marsh crocodile and the critically endangered gharial.

Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park
Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park

Table of Contents

  • Location
  • History
  • Area
  • Hills
  • River
  • Lake
  • Maldhari Community
  • Flora
  • Fauna
  • Kankai Mata Temple
  • UPSC Questions



Gir National Park Location

The Gir National Park (Sasan Gir) is located in the Junagadh district of Gujarat in India. It is situated in the southwestern part of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat in the foothills of the Girnar range, which is an extension of the Western Ghats. 


The Gir National Park is well-connected to the major cities of Gujarat, with good road and rail networks. The Gir National Park is approximately 65 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of the city of Junagadh and around 360 kilometers (224 miles) southwest of the city of Ahmedabad. 


Gir National Park Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to Gir National Park is Keshod airport and Rajkot airport. The Keshod airport is located around 70 km from the park, whereas the Rajkot airport is at a distance of around 160 km.


Gir National Park Nearest Railway Station:

When it comes to the nearest railway station, the Junagadh Railway Station is the closest to Gir National Park. It is located approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the park. The Junagadh Railway Station is well-connected to major cities in Gujarat and other parts of India through regular train services. From Junagadh, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Gir National Park.

Gir National Park


Gir National Park History

Gir National Park has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. Here's an overview of the park's history:


1. Historical Significance: The region where Gir National Park is located has historical significance as it was once a royal hunting ground for the Nawabs (rulers) of Junagadh. The area was used for hunting purposes by the royals and their guests.


2. Conservation Efforts: In the early 20th century, the population of Asiatic lions in the Gir forest faced a severe decline due to hunting and habitat loss. Recognizing the need for conservation, the Nawab of Junagadh initiated steps to protect the lions and their habitat.


3. Early Efforts: In 1900, the then Nawab of Junagadh, Sir Muhammad Rasul Khanji, banned hunting in the area and took steps to protect the lion population.


4. Colonial Era: In 1913, the British colonial government declared the region a protected area  to provide further protection to the lions. 


5. Declaration as a Wildlife Sanctuary: In 1965, Gir National Park was established as a wildlife sanctuary to protect the remaining population of Asiatic lions. It was one of the first sanctuaries in India to be established for the conservation of a particular animal species.


6. National Park Status: In 1975, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a national park. This status highlights the park's role in preserving a fragile ecosystem and promoting sustainable development.


7. Wildlife Conservation Success: Over the years, Gir National Park has played a crucial role in the conservation of the Asiatic lion. Strict protection measures, anti-poaching efforts, and community participation have contributed to the recovery of the lion population. The park's success in conserving the Asiatic lions has become a remarkable conservation story worldwide.




Gir National Park Area

The Gir National Park covers an area of approximately 1412 square kilometers (545 square miles). The Gir National Park was established in 1965 as a wildlife sanctuary with an initial area of 258.71 square kilometers (100 square miles). 


The park area encompasses diverse ecosystems, including deciduous forests, scrublands, grasslands, and rocky hills, providing a suitable habitat for a wide range of wildlife species.


There is also a buffer zone that surrounds the park, covering an area of approximately 400 square kilometers (154 square miles). The buffer zone provides a transition area between the park and the surrounding human settlements and serves as an additional habitat for the wildlife.


  • Core Area – 258 sq. km
  • Total Forest Area – 1412 sq. km




Gir National Park Hills

Gir National Park encompasses several hills within its boundaries. These hills add to the diverse topography and landscape of the park. While the majority of the park is covered with dry deciduous forests and open grasslands, the hills provide a scenic backdrop and offer unique habitats for wildlife. 


Here are some notable hills within Gir National Park:


(1) Gir Range:

The Gir National Park is situated at the foothills of the Girnar range, which is an extension of the Western Ghats. The hills provide a scenic backdrop to the Gir National Park and are an important part of its ecosystem.


Gir Range is a low mountain range in western Gujarat state, on the southern Kathiawar Peninsula. The Girnar range comprises of several hills, the highest of which is Girnar Hill, standing at an elevation of 1,165 meters. 


The Gir hills are covered with dry deciduous forests and are an important habitat for many species of wildlife, including the Asiatic lion, leopard, hyena, and chital.


The hills of the Gir National Park also have several important religious and cultural sites, including the Girnar Jain Temples, which are a group of 16 temples situated on the Girnar Hill. These temples are an important pilgrimage site for Jains and attract thousands of visitors every year.


The Gir hills are inhabited mainly by the Bhil and Dubla peoples


(2) Kankai Mata Hill:

The Kankai hills is located in the Gir National Park. Kankai Mata Temple situated on the Kankai Mata Hill.


(3) Tulsi Shyam Hill:

Tulsi Shyam Hill is located in the Gir National Park. There is an ancient temple of Lord Vishnu-Lord Shyam called Vishnu Shyam temple. There is a hot sulphur spring near the Vishnu Shyam temple that is believed to have curative powers.




Gir National Park River

Gir National Park is traversed by several rivers and water bodies. These rivers not only contribute to the natural beauty of the park but also provide a vital water source for the diverse wildlife that inhabits the area. 


River flowing through Gir National Park are following-

  • Hiran
  • Machhundri
  • Shingada
  • Godavari
  • Datardi
  • Raval
  • Shetrunji


(1) Hiran River:

The Hiran River flows through the Gir National Park. The river originates from the western slopes of the Gir hills and flows through the park, providing water to the wildlife and supporting the park's ecosystem.


Hiran is a seasonal river. Its major tributaries are the Saraswati River and Ambakhoi stream. Famous dam of Gir National Park, Kamleshwar Dam is built on this river. 


(2) Machhundri River:

Machchundri River originates from Gir Forest and flow through Gir National Park. It drains into Arabian Sea. The maximum length of the Machhundri river is 59 km and its total catchment area is approx. 406 km2. Machhundri dam buit on Machhundri river.


(3) Shetrunji River:

Shetrunji River is an eastward-flowing river in western India. It rises northeast of the Gir Hills, near Dhari in Amreli district in Gujarat, India. The Shetrunji River is an important source of water for irrigation and drinking purposes for the surrounding communities.


The length of the Shetrunji river is 227 kilometers. Shetrunji River outfalls into the Gulf of Khambhat. The Palitana dam was built across the Shetrunji river.


left tributaries of Shetrunji river:

  • Satali
  • Thebi
  • Gagario
  • Rajaval
  • Kharo


Right tributaries of Shetrunji river:

  • Shel
  • Khari
  • Talaji




Gir National Park Lake

There are several lakes in and around Gir National Park that provide water to the wildlife and support the park's diverse ecosystem. Here is the major lake in Gir National Park:


Kamleshwar Dam:

Kamleshwar Dam is a man-made dam located in the Kamleshwar village, near the Gir National Park. The dam is built on the Hiran RiverIt is officially known as the "Hiran-I Dam". It is a rock-fill embankment dam.


The Kamleshwar Dam, known as “the lifeline of Gir,”. It is the largest reservoir in the Gir Forest region and a major source of water for the Gir National Park's wildlife. The Kamleshwar Dam dam is known for its populations of birds and mugger crocodiles.




Maldhari Community

The Maldhari community refers to a pastoral community that traditionally resides in and around the Gir Forest region of Gujarat, India. The term "Maldhari" is derived from the Gujarati words "mal" meaning cattle and "dhari" meaning caretaker. The Maldharis primarily rely on livestock rearing, especially buffaloes, cows, and goats, for their livelihood.


Key aspects of the Maldhari community include:


1. Livelihood and Economy: The Maldharis are predominantly involved in animal husbandry and depend on their livestock for sustenance. They rear cattle for milk, meat, and other dairy products. The milk from their cattle is often used for making ghee (clarified butter), buttermilk, and other dairy-based products. They also engage in small-scale farming and agriculture.


2. Nomadic Lifestyle: Traditionally, the Maldharis were nomadic herders who would move with their livestock in search of grazing lands. They would migrate seasonally, adapting to the changing availability of natural resources for their animals. However, with the establishment of Gir National Park and other conservation efforts, their movement has become more restricted, and many Maldhari families have settled in semi-permanent or permanent settlements.  Maldharis settlements are called “nesses”.


3. Cultural Heritage: The Maldhari community has a rich cultural heritage and distinct traditions. They have their unique dress, music, dance forms, and oral folklore that reflect their way of life and connection with nature. Their traditional attire includes colorful clothing, turbans, and accessories made from local materials.


4. Coexistence with Wildlife: The Maldharis have been living in close proximity to the Gir Forest, which is the last natural habitat of the Asiatic lions. They have developed a unique relationship with the wildlife in the region and have coexisted with animals like lions, leopards, and other wildlife for generations. They have traditional knowledge and practices that help minimize conflicts with the wildlife and maintain a harmonious relationship.




Gir National Park Flora

Gir National Park is known for its diverse flora, which includes a variety of plant species adapted to the dry deciduous forests, scrublands, grasslands, and rocky hills of the region. Here are some notable flora found in Gir National Park:


Teak (Tectona grandis): Teak is one of the dominant tree species in Gir National Park. It is a large deciduous tree known for its durable wood and is economically valuable.


Dhak or Flame of the Forest (Butea monosperma): Dhak is a deciduous tree with vibrant orange-red flowers that bloom during the dry season. It adds a burst of color to the landscape of Gir National Park.


Jamun (Syzygium cumini): Jamun is an evergreen tree that produces small purple-black fruits. It is found in the moist areas of Gir National Park, and its fruits are a food source for various wildlife species.


Ber (Ziziphus mauritiana): Ber is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree with thorny branches. It bears small, round fruits known as "ber" or "Indian jujube," which are consumed by birds and animals.


Babul (Acacia nilotica): Babul is a thorny, medium-sized deciduous tree commonly found in the scrublands of Gir National Park. It is well-adapted to dry conditions and provides valuable fodder for wildlife.


Banyan (Ficus benghalensis): Banyan is a large and iconic tree found in Gir National Park. It has an extensive aerial root system that gives it a unique appearance. Banyan trees provide shade and are considered sacred in Indian culture.


Neem (Azadirachta indica): Neem is a versatile tree known for its medicinal properties. It has evergreen foliage and small white flowers. Neem leaves, seeds, and bark are used in traditional medicine and various other applications.


Tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon): Tendu, also known as ebony, is a deciduous tree found in Gir National Park. It has dark, hard wood and produces small, round fruits. The leaves of the tendu tree are used to make traditional Indian "beedis" (hand-rolled cigarettes).


Indian Gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica): Indian Gooseberry, also called amla, is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree. It bears round green fruits that are rich in vitamin C and used in Ayurvedic medicine and various culinary preparations.


Kadam (Neolamarckia cadamba): Kadam is a medium-sized evergreen tree with broad leaves and orange-colored flowers. It is known for its fragrant flowers and is often planted as an ornamental tree.


Grasses and Shrubs: Gir National Park has a variety of grasses and shrubs that form an essential part of the ecosystem. Species such as spear grass (Imperata cylindrica), khus grass (Vetiveria zizanioides), and various shrubs like capparis (Capparis decidua) and jatropha (Jatropha curcas) are commonly found.

Gir Forest
Gir Forest

Gir Forest
Gir Forest

Gir Forest
Gir Forest



Gir National Park Fauna (Gir National Park Animals)

Which animal is found in the Gir National Park?

Gir National Park is renowned for its diverse and abundant fauna, supporting a wide range of animal species. The park is most famous for being the last refuge of the critically endangered Asiatic lions in India.


Here are some of the notable fauna species found in Gir National Park:


Mammals:

  • Asiatic Lions
  • Leopards
  • Sambar Deer
  • Chowsingha
  • Chital (Spotted Deer)
  • Chinkara
  • Jackal
  • Striped Hyena
  • India Fox
  • Indian Pangolin
  • Nilgai
Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park
Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park

Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park
Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park

Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park
Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park

Leopards in Gir National Park
Leopards in Gir National Park

Leopard in Gir National Park
Leopard in Gir National Park

Leopard in Gir National Park
Leopard in Gir National Park

Spotted Deer in Gir National Park
Spotted Deer in Gir National Park



Birds:

  • White-backed Vulture
  • long-billed vulture
  • Palla’s Fish Eagle
  • Egyptian Vulture
  • Greater spotted Eagle
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Changeable Hawk Eagle
  • Indian Eagle Owl
  • Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  • Red-breasted Flycatcher
  • Fantail


Reptiles:

  • Marsh Crocodile
  • King Kobra
  • Russell’s Viper
  • Saw-scaled Viper
  • Krait
  • Monitor Lizards
  • Indian Rock Pythons


Tortoise & Turtle:

  • Star Tortoise
  • Soft-shelled Turtle




Kankai Mata Temple

The Kankai Mata Temple is located inside the Gir National Park. This temple is dedicated to the goddess Kankai Mata, who is believed to be an incarnation of the goddess Durga. Kankai Mata Temple is considered to be one of the oldest temples in the region.


The Kankai Mata Temple is open to visitors throughout the year. The temple is also a great place to witness the local customs and traditions, as there are many festivals and rituals that are celebrated here with great fervor.




Gir National Park UPSC Questions

Q. Gir National Park in Gujarat is famous for?

A. Gir National Park in Gujarat, India, is famous for being the last natural habitat of the Asiatic lions. It is home to a significant population of these majestic big cats, which are distinct from their African counterparts. 


Q. Where is Gir National Park located/situated?/Gir National Park is located in which state/district?

A. Gir National Park is located in the Junagadh district of Gujarat in India.


Q. When was Gir National Park established?/In which year was Gir declared a National Park?

A. Gir National Park was established in 1975.


Q. Which animal is protected in Gir National Park?

A. Asiatic lions is protected in Gir National Park.


Q. What is special about Gir National Park?

A. Gir National Park is the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions.


Q. What is Gir National Park also known as?/What is Gir Forest popular for?

A. Gir National Park also known as Sasan Gir.


Q. Which state is famous for Gir Forest?

A. Gujarat state is famous for Gir Forest.


Q. Which type of forest is Gir National Park?

A. Dry deciduous forest, Scrubland, and Savannah-type grasslands.


Q. Is Gir and Sasan Gir same?

A. Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also called Sasan Gir.


Q. How many rivers are in the Gir jungle?/Which river flows through Gir National Park?

A. Rivers flowing within the Gir National Park are Shingada, Godavari, Datardi, Raval, Shetrunji, Hiran, Machhundri.


Gir National Park

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