Gir National Park
Gir National Park is famous all across the world because it is the last remaining habitat of the Asiatic Lion. The Lion population is estimated to have a population of about 650-700 in the park in 2018-19. It has an area of almost 2000 sq. km including the buffer zone. The leopard population is estimated to be about 600. This national park is also famous for the mugger crocodile.
The Gir National Park has a large lion population but in a very small area. This is because Gir has a very large prey population. It is said that the cheetal (axis deer) population in Gir is about 45,000. The other prey population includes the sambar deer, nilgai, and also the Chinkara( Indian gazelle).
The word Gir is the short form of the Hindi word 'Giri' which means mountain. As the name suggests, this region is very mountainous. There are also many grasslands here in between the valleys and also on the plateaus. The grasslands are homes to many animals like the chinkara and the nilgai but it doesn't restrict the movement of animals like the chital and the sambar deer. This region is also the favorite hunting ground of the apex predator, the lion.
The temperature rises in the day and drops at a quick rate in the night. In summers, the temperature may rise to 40 degrees Celsius.
Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project-
The Asiatic lion reintroduction project was proposed in 1995 for giving this species a new home. There were various reasons why the Asiatic Lion needed a new home
1)These lions have come from a very small gene pool because the conservation started only when 12 Asiatic lions were left, so it will take only 1 epidemic to wipe them out for good. (watch this video for more information-Watch this
2)It will take only one strike of a natural disaster to dangerously impacting their population because they are all located in only one place. This might bring the Asiatic lion close to extinction.
3) Even though there is a high prey base in Gir, the Lions are coming out of the reserve and now it is said that 50% of the lion population wanders outside Gir.
Even after understanding the importance, the Gujarat Government is being very reluctant in giving away the lions to some other state because they are concerned about revenue loss. Ideally, the lions should be translocated to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. The video below will give you more clarification on this topic.
This video was made by famous lion conservationist and biologist Ravi Chellam in 2010