A virtual tour of Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the endangered Asiatic Lion and more. Buckle up!
Tapan Sheth | Team Nature inFocus
The impressive mane is only seen in male Asiatic Lions. Males are very protective of their pride, marking their territories to prevent intruders from entering.
The last home of the Asiatic Lion, Sasan Gir, or Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, in Gujarat, is renowned worldwide for its conservation success story of the majestic, large cat.
Once considered a subspecies of the African Lion (Panthera leo leo), the Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) is protected as a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and is categorised as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Back from the brink of extinction, the latest census puts the Asiatic Lion count at 674 (a 29 per cent increase from the last census five years ago in 2015). As per the Gujarat Forest Department, the distribution range of the big cat has also increased from 22,000sq.km. to 30,000sq.km., covering nine districts in Saurashtra, Gujarat.
The dry deciduous forests of Gir are also home to a dense population of Indian Leopards and a rich assemblage of prey—Chital, Sambar, Chousingha and Chinkara. Ornithologist Dr Salim Ali believed that if not for the Asiatic Lion, Gir would have been known as one of the most fascinating bird sanctuaries in the country. More than 300 avian species have been recorded so far from the region.
Obsessed with capturing the 'King of the Jungle' on camera, I have spent countless hours in these five PAs—Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary and Girnar Sanctuary—presently managed as Asiatic Lion habitats. Here is a glimpse into the semi-arid wilderness of Gir and the life of the Asiatic Lion and its countless other residents.
Friday, 03 September, 2021
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Tapan Sheth is a nature and wildlife photographer and artist from India. Has received several accolades for his photographs, notably claiming the first prize in Nature's Best Photography Asia 2016 for a photograph of an Asiatic Lion. He is well known for his photographs of Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park. Sheth currently serves as the director at Sakshi Infoway, a website design and software company in Rajkot.