This reserve in western Gujarat is internationally renowned as the last stronghold of an animal that once roamed free across southern Europe, North Africa and Asia, but which now only survives on the Saurashtra peninsula in the far west of Gujarat: the Asiatic lion. The local maharaja was responsible for setting up the reserve a century ago, after it was realized the local population of lions had been reduced to a mere 15. Today, over 400 inhabit the jungle, grasslands and acacia scrub of the Gir National Park, and good sightings are almost guaranteed. In addition to its lions, the park also supports large populations of leopard, as well as deer, antelope, sloth bear and around 300 species of birds. The park is served by safari lodges to suit most budgets. A rundown of itineraries on p91 shows how it may be tied into longer trips in the region.
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