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Gir National Park

Gir National Park in Gujurat is the last remaining location in which the Asiatic Lion can be seen in the wild. The park was established in 1965 and covers 1412 square kilometres. The land is primarily deciduous teak forest with areas of scrub jungle, grasslands, rocky hills, marshes and lakes. Perennial and seasonal rivers flow through the park.

The Asiatic Lion was once widely found in Asia from Asia Minor and Arabia to Persia and India. It is smaller and more compact than its African counterpart. Towards the end of the 19th century numbers fell as low as 12 but these grew again in the 20th century. In 1972 the Lion Sanctuary Project was founded, aiming to create a balance between the lion population and the indigenous Maldhawi tribe. Today the lion population tops 400. In addition, Gir is home to a large population of leopard, as well as jackals, hyenas, wolves, wild boar, sloth bears and mongoose. The main herbivores are chital, spotted deer, nilgai, sambhar and wild boar. There are several species of repltiles including marsh crocodile, found in the waters of Kamleshwar Dam. The Indian Star Tortoise and monitor lizards and are also found here.

Bird life is prolific with some 300 species present, including the paradise flycatcher, Boneli's eagle, pied woodpecker, grey & painted francolin and white-necked stork. Kamleshwar Dam in he middle of the park is a good area for bird watching. There are over 400 plant species in Gir National Park including numerous varieties of trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses.

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Time: GMT +5½ hours

Flight time: Flight time from London to Delhi is 8 hours 30 minutes and to Mumbai is about 8 hours.

Language: The official language is Hindi, which about 30% of the population speaks. English is very widely spoken and is used for official and commercial purposes.

Visas: Required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.

Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations.

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