Rarest of Lions
You are in India's lion country in Gir. Home to the rarest of lions, the Asiatic lion. Visit their last refuge, a far cry from their early days of roaming a once vast range covering Europe and all of Asia.
Often overlooked by the superstardom of the Bengal Tiger, the lions here are not man-eaters though they have been known to attack when provoked. The quickest way to recognise the Asiatic lion is the long fold of skin under the belly. The Gir lion is tawnier and bulkier but still smaller than its African cousin.
The Asiatic lion is considered endangered and after the 'National Park' status was conferred on the area, the lion population has seen substantial increase. Poaching continues to be a problem with both the tribes and other mercenaries' involvement.
Lion safaris happen on jeeps and there is a good chance to spot lions here depending on the tracker with you. Gir has an abundance in mammals and repitles include pythons, star tortoise and monitor lizard. The national Park is also known for its panthers and leopards and has bird watching opportunities as well. Birds you can spot here include crested serpent eagle, Bonnali’s eagle, crested hawk eagle, brown fish owl, great horned owl, pygmy woodpecker and black-headed oriole
Enjoy a walk along the Hiran River and the watch tower area overlooking a waterfall. In the heart of the forest is the Tulsishyam hot springs and Kankai Mata Temple dedicated to Bhim, the brawniest Pandava brother of Mahabharata.
If you missed the lion during the safari make a stop at the Gir Interpretation Zone where four or five lions can be spotted in the fenced but open scrubland. The Crocodile Rearing Centre around the area is also a place of interest.