To find majestic lions prowling around freely, Gir National Park is the only place in the world besides the jungles of Africa. The entire forest of the park is dry and deciduous and is thus the ideal habitat for the Asiatic lion. Besides lions, leopards are the main attraction of the park. Other wildlife one can spot are sambar deer, chowsingha (the world’s only four-horned antelope), jackal, India fox, hyena etc. Moreover, the park invites birdwatchers for its more than 200 species of avifauna. Some of the prominent are the endangered white-backed and long-billed vultures. The forest is also home to more than 40 species of reptiles and amphibians. To spot Marsh crocodiles in large numbers, one can visit the Kamleshwar reservoir in the sanctuary. Some of the snakes that reside here are the king cobra, the saw-scaled viper, the krait and Russell's viper.
Spread over an area of 1,412 sq km, the park has a core area of about 258 sq km. It is located about 65 km south-east of Junagadh and was notified as a wildlife sanctuary on September 18, 1965, to conserve the Asiatic lion. While the lions were completely wiped out from other parts of Asia, the indiscriminate hunting by the people of Junagadh led to a fall in their numbers in Gir. The Nawabs of Junagadh protected the lions in their hunting grounds, and then the Forest Department took over. From a population of about 20 lions in 1913, the numbers rose to about 523 in 2015.

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