The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir) is the sole home of the pure Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica). Measuring about 258 km² for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1153 km² for the Sanctuary, the area is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species.
Established in 1965, the total area of 1412 km² is located about 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh city of the Junagadh district in the Kathiawar peninsula of Gujarat state, India. The 14th Asiatic Lion Census 2015 was conducted in May 2015. In 2015, the population was 523 (27% up compared to the previous census in 2010). The population was 411 in 2010 and 359 in 2005. The lion population in Junagadh District was 268 individuals, 44 in Gir Somnath district, 174 in Amreli District, and 37 in Bhavnagar District. There are 109 males, 201 females, and 213 cubs.
Gir includes 2375 distinct fauna species. It has about 38 species of mammals, around 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles, and more than 2000 species of insects. The carnivores group mainly comprises Asiatic lions, Leopards, Jungle cat, Hyenas, Jackals, Mongoose, Civet cats, and Ratels.
The main herbivores of Gir are Chital, Nilgai (or Bluebull), Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara, and Wild boar. Blackbucks from the surrounding area are sometimes seen in the sanctuary. Among the smaller mammals, Porcupine and Hare are common. The reptilians are Marsh crocodile (highest population among all protected areas in India), the Indian Star Tortoise, and the Monitor Lizard in the water areas of the sanctuary. Snakes are found in the bushes and forests. Pythons are sighted at times along the stream banks.
The plentiful avifauna population has more than 300 species of birds. One can see Vultures, including the King Vulture, Crested Serpent Eagle, endangered Bonelli’s Eagle, Crested Hawk-eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Great Horned Owl, Bush Quail (or Quailbush), Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Crested Swift, and Indian Pitta.
The Gir Forest National Park is closed from 16 June to 15 October every year. The best time to visit is between December and March. Although it is very hot in April and May, these are the best months for wildlife viewing and photography.
The nearest airports to the Gir National Park are Keshod airport and Rajkot airport. Keshod Airport is located around 70 km from the park, whereas the Rajkot airport is at a distance of around 160 km. Tourists can hire a taxi or bus service to reach the Gir national park from any of these two airports.
International visitors can use the Mumbai International Airport. From Mumbai airport, tourists can reach the Diu airport via air route and hire a taxi from Diu airport to Gir national park. Alternatively, international tourists can reach the Porbandar airport from Mumbai airport and hire a cab to reach the Gir national park by road.
Junagadh and Veraval railway stations are the nearest railway station from the Gir national park, located at around the same distance from the park. Both the railway stations are on the main railway line of the state and connected to all the major locations of the country by direct trains. The other nearest railway station is the Rajkot railway station, which is located at around 165 km from the Gir forest and takes around 3-1/2-4 hours by road. The Rajkot railway station is also a major station and connected to major cities by direct or connecting trains.
The Gir National Park is properly connected to most of the prominent cities of Gujarat via a good road. There are state bus transport services and private bus services, which offer frequent bus service to Gir from various parts of the state. The cab and taxi are also available easily in major cities in Gujarat to commute to the Gir National Park.