To the Last Bastion

Tuesday 29 January 2013
News updated at 1:51 PM IST

To the last bastion

Arefa Tehsin & Adityavikram More, Jan 29, 2013

Wildlife in gir

Gandhi and the Asiatic Lion — these were the two things that always attracted us to Gujarat the most. Gandhi’s philosophy and lions have become rare today, almost on the verge of extinction. Hopefully, at least the lion will be saved.

Asiatic lion that found a place in mythology, historical emblems and tales from the Iranian to the Indian civilisations, and whose territory spread from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent, has nearly been wiped away from its entire range, except the Junagarh forests of Gujarat. The last lion reported from Iran was in 1930, and by the start of the 20th century, the lion from India had vanished from most of its habitat. The far-sightedness of Junagarh Nawab saved lions from extinction in India. Although inaccurate accounts try to discredit the Nawab’s efforts, the historical references say otherwise.

The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, the last remaining home of the Asiatic lion, is spread across an area of 1,412 sq km in Sasan Gir near Junagarh. The best time to visit Gir is during the peak summer months of April and May, when the water is confined to a few waterholes in the forest. Moreover, the dry deciduous forest is more open at this time, than after the lush vegetation growth post-monsoon. This increases the visibility and spotting of animals.

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