Gir- The Forest

April 2013

The Gir forest is  unique in many ways.  It used to be the private hunting grounds of the Nawabs of Junagadh.  They initiated the protection of the forest and its lions. Today, Gir has been protected for more than a 100 years.

11744_10151583207997922_1858984293_n

It is the last home of the Asiatic Lions.The forest is also home to nomadic herdsmen, known as the Maldharis. There is plenty of conflict between the herdsmen and the lions, but by and large they co-exist.526533_10151583219862922_1135626172_nIt is early April. The landscape is brown, but the heat is not brutal. Dust does not rise as the jeep trundles along well worn tracks. Trees shade us from the gaze of the late afternoon sun. There is no breeze to rustle leaves and the forest is quiet. The silence of the forest is broken not by the chirping of birds but by the occasional, oddly harmonious toot of a train horn.  A train runs through the forest, neither bird nor beast, nor tree shows concern. The metallic snake with people peeping out of its belly, has made itself at home.

Sleepyhead

Sleepyhead

 

Water in the reservoir of the Hiran river is low, but still blue as the sky above.  A few crocodiles bask on its banks. The harsh Indian summer is yet to set in. When it comes, the muddy reservoir will be a popular spot with both the thirsty inhabitants of the jungle and the eager tourist hordes that flock to see them. Today, we travel deeper in the hope of spotting true Nawabs of this land.

Every year tourists flock here to get a glimpse of the lions. Some are lucky, like me – I saw around 10-11 different lions, plus repeat sightings of some. Some are not so lucky and return home disheartened.

Image

Nilgai

The forest rangers’ strong focus on showing off the lions is partially responsible for the frustration of not seeing one. Gir is a forest diverse in flora and fauna. Unfortunately, none of this was pointed out to me. The ranger accompanying me was actually surprised when after seeing more than half a dozen lions the first day, I expressed my desire to go another safari the next day. Compare this with Bandhavgarh. At Bandhavgarh, we saw fewer tigers than we expected to. We were a little disappointed about that, but on the whole the trip was very fulfilling as the rangers introduced us to various other species of  plants, animals and birds.

58802_10151583208847922_1857415472_n

Gir could take a lesson or two from them.

The National Bird

The National Bird of India

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Gir- The Forest

  1. Wonderful place. My husband and some of the students went there on a safari, though I had to stay in Ahmadabad If we are lucky enough to go again, I don’t want to miss this. Thanks for sharing! Namaste….Anne

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s