The only lions outside Africa exist in the Sasan Gir Forest in India. Raised from the brink of extinction about 20 to somewhere around 400 today
India is a rare bright spot for the big cats. In the last decades, the country has managed to bring back the Asiatic lion from the brink of extinction through a single protected reserve. At the beginning of the 20th century, only a few dozen lions were to be found in the Gir Park. The species had practically disappeared in all other regions of Asia.
Gir’s Asiatic lions are a legacy of the last Maharajah of Gujarat, called the Nawab of Junagadh (the latter being the name of the former Indian princely state in British-ruled India). He placed a large area of the Gir region under protection and banned the hunting of lions, thus ensuring the survival of the beasts.
In 1965, when Gujarat’s forest department declared the Gir Park a protected area, the region was still home to the nomadic Maldhari tribe and their livestock. There were several reports of conflicts between man and animal. A few years later – amid protests – several hundred Maldhari families were finally resettled.
In 1975, after the main area of the Gir reserve was converted into a national park, lion numbers began to rise. A variety of protection measures and a big increase in prey have fuelled the growth, the lion numbers have increased from under 200 to over 400. Apart from the lions the sanctuary’s 37 other mammal species, most of which have also increased in numbers, include the dainty chital (spotted deer), the sambar (a large deer), the nilgai or bluebull (a large antelope), the chousingha (four-horned antelope), the chinkara (a gazelle), crocodiles and rarely seen leopards.
Where: Mumbai – Little Rann – Sasan Gir
Route: Mumbai – Mumbai – Ahmadabad (train) – Little Rann – Sasan Gir – Ahmadabad (Self driven car) – Mumbai (train)
Stay: Camp sides and home stay (farm house)
With: Robert Nelson
Agenda: #todo list #inthemiddleofnowhere – Rann and spot the lions – Gir
Highlights: India / Safari / Drive / 1000 km / 4D3N / Sev Tamata / Dhosa / Following the lions on foot in the middle of the night with just a torch in hand / meeting Mr. Maaaalik (real life Chaok from the movie ‘Daud’)