Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary is a 1412 sq km hilly tract of dry deciduous forests, acacia scrub, evergreen and semi-evergreen flora and grasslands, fed by rivers and streams. Among the many water-bodies in the reserve is the Kamleshwar Dam, known for its large crocodile population. Originally protected by the Nawab of Junagadh, after British viceroys brought to his attention the plight of the lion in Asia, the sanctuary is the jewel of Gujarat’s ecological resources.
Gir has about 411 lions and 300 leopards, making it one of the major big-cat concentrations in India. Sambar and spotted deer (chital), blue bull (nilgai), chousingha (the world’s only four-horned antelope), chinkara (Indian gazelle) and wild boar thrive in Gir. Jackal, striped hyena, jungle cat, rusty-spotted cat, langur, porcupine, black-naped Indian hare are among the other mammals of Gir. Gir has a large population of marsh crocodile or mugger, which is among the 40 species of reptiles and amphibians recorded in the sanctuary.
The park checklist has 250 birds and about 50 other species (including the endangered lesser florican and the saras crane) are recorded in the grasslands along the periphery of the sanctuary. Many species like the painted sandgrouse, grey francolin, quails, Asian paradise flycatcher, black-naped monarch, white-browed fantail, Asian brown flycatcher, grey-headed flycatcher, verditer flycatcher, tickell’s blue flycatcher, greenish warbler, white-eye, coppersmith barbet, common and marshal’s iora, rufous treepie, yellow-footed green pigeon have been spotted around the sanctuary. Long-billed vulture, Indian white-backed vulture, red-headed (king) vulture, Eurasian griffon vulture, changeable hawk-eagle, crested serpent eagle, bonneli’s eagle, greater spotted eagle, lesser spotted eagle, tawny eagle, steppe eagle, imperial eagle, Pallas’s fish eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon, laggar falcon, red-headed falcon, oriental honey-buzzard, white-eyed buzzard and other raptors have been seen in the sanctuary. Gir also has brown fish owl, Eurasian eagle owl, spotted owlet. Gir also has about 2000 species of invertebrate and the trails around the sanctuary can be good for butterfly-spotting.