Gir National Park is a paradigm shift in perception for the people who have always viewed India as a turf of Bengal Tigers and Asian Leopards. The park is a proud home to the majestic Asiatic Lions who have lost ground in most parts of the subcontinent. Legends have it that the legacy of these magnificent species extended from swathes of the Middle East to the dense forest of Asia. Like Bengal Tigers, Asiatic Lions dominated many parts of Indian topography before falling prey to the continuous hunting and poaching by the Royals to boast about their valor and bravery as a King. It was then the Nawabs and people of Junagarh decided to put an end to the atrocities faced by the vulnerable species who were close to extinction in the twentieth century. While the royals issued the decree on prohibiting hunting, the villagers took no offense to the lions preying on their cattle. Rather, they take immense pride in inheriting the lion's heritage. They have also earned global accolades in playing a significant role in assisting the forest department and other shareholders for the surging population of these big cats.
Lying in the state of Gujarat, it is interesting to see how Gir National Park holds stark similarities with African forests ranging from wildlife, topography, weather, and tribal culture. It is not necessary to travel to Masai Mara to witness the demeanor of the magnificent Lions when a small community of its identical twin is resting in proximity. If the vast savannahs are dominated by several species of mammals and reptiles, the dense groves of teak have become a shelter for the gorgeous winged species including sandgrouse, grey francolin, quail, Asian paradise flycatcher, black-naped monarch, grey-headed flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Tickell’s blue flycatcher, White-browed Fantail, Asian brown flycatcher, greenish Warbler, white-eye, coppersmith barbet, common and marshall’s iora, rufous treepie, yellow-footed green pigeon. While penetrating through this bewitching forest one is certain to be showered with several opportunities to sight and photograph its enchanting wilderness from various angles.
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