Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only remaining home for the Asiatic Lions that are the highlight of this park, although the park has a lot more to offer. The preservation of these lions was initiated by the Nawab of Junagadh when these were just about to enter the phase of extinction due to hunting. There are roughly different 2375 species of fauna here with 38 species of mammals, over 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and over 2000 species of insects. Other important wildlife forms found here are leopard, chausingha, spotted deer, hyena, sambar deer and chinkara.
Best Time: July to March
Home to about 1800 exceptionally beautiful, graceful and fast antelopes, the Blackbucks with their elegant spiralling horns and the Blue Bulls, India's largest antelopes, the Velavadar Blackbuck National Park is located about 50 kms from Bhavnagar. With a fantastic amount of wildlife species inhabiting here with over 120 species of birds, including the wintering harriers from Siberia and even wolves, the park is perfect for a day out in the pale gold grasslands for wildlife lovers.
Tucked in between the Sahyadri ranges, lies this conserved national park in Gujarat spanning over an area of about 24 sq kilometres. It got its name as Vansda because it was once privately owned by the Maharaja of Vansda. Not a single tree has been cut since then. Owing to this, in some places, the canopies are so thick that sunlight does not pass through. It is an open park, and you can easily get a permit if you want to explore it in your own vehicle.
Unlike other National Parks, Vansda provides two trail options to its visitors. You can opt to walk or take a vehicle inside. The park also has other attractions like interacting with local tribes, the Gira Falls and the Conservation Centre. The Gira Falls of Vansda is the park's pride
Marine National Park in the Gulf of Kutch is the first marine conservatory built in India. Crediting to its diverse range of flora and fauna, it accounts for a magnanimous natural site for India's natural resources and beauty. This national park in Gujarat is distributed in 42 scattered islands in an archipelago. The park also houses many endangered aquatic animals granting them protection from poachers. It is advised that one should carry headgear, ample water, and sunscreen while exploring the park.
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Located at about 15 km from Porbandar, this wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat is distributed in two districts i.e. Porbandar and Jamnagar. The Sanctuary area is green surrounded by agricultural fields, wastelands and forest and the terrain of Barda is almost hilly. The Sanctuary exhibits a great variety of fauna including a variety of butterflies, Lion, Chinkara, Sambar, crocodile and chameleon, ratel, leopard, wolves, Spotted Eagle and Crested Hawk-Eagle. Of the four common venomous snakes, three are found here. It is still called as Rana Barda and Jam Barda by local people as the sanctuary was a private property of princely states of Ranavav (Porbandar) and Jamnagar. You can also enjoy trekking in the Barda hills.
Less than 100 km away from Bhuj, this sanctuary is spread over an area of about 7505.22 sq. km. in the Kutch District. This wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat is considered as one of the largest seasonal saline wetland areas. It has a water depth that ranges between 0.5 to 1.5 m and preserves various species of flamingo birds. Also sight other species such as the greater flamingo, Indian porcupine, spiny-tailed lizard, black-necked storks, wild ass and Indian cormorant. The best time to visit this sanctuary is during the months of winters.
This uniquely named wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat is located in Little Rann of Kutch and India's biggest wildlife sanctuary spreading over a massive 4954 square kilometre. It is home to a wide variety of carnivores, mammals, birds. The sanctuary is best known for the endangered species of the Indian wild ass like Khur as well as the Asiatic wild ass species, Oranger. Other kinds of mammals, reptiles, amphibians are also found in this area.
A 125 km drive away from Bhuj, this wildlife sanctuary covers an area of about 444 sq. km. and is one of the distinct eco-system in the Kutch district of Gujarat state. Also known as Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary, it is home to a number of mammals such as chinkara, the endangered Indian wolf, wildcats, desert foxes, honey badger and wild boar. Tourists can also see around 184 distinct species of birds in this sanctuary including waterfowl, black partridge, Houbara bustard, lesser florican and great Indian Bustard.
Also known locally as the Lala Prajan Sanctuary, its primary aim is to conserve the Great Indian Bustard. Among many other different varieties of wildlife that can be found within the reserve, there are three different kinds of Bustards themselves in the sanctuary. This wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat covers an area of just over 2 sq. km, but still houses some of the excellent species including harriers, common cranes, black partridges, sand grouses, Black and Grey Francolin, Spotted and Indian Sandgrouse, quails, larks, shrikes, coursers, plover, Imperial Eagle, flamingos, herons, egrets, sandpipers, etc.
This 1 kilometer square area is visited annually by migratory birds. Flamingos, Grebes, Pelicans, Ducks and geese, Avocets, Coots, Cormorants, Herons, Egrets, Bittern, Storks, Ibis, Spoonbill, Cranes, Whistling Teals, Gulls, Terns, Jacanas, Ruff, Red shanks, Indian roller and many other varieties of winged, fluffy creatures pay a visit during the winters.
Claimed to be the largest wetland sanctuary in Gujarat and one of the biggest in India, the Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary acts as a wintering ground for as many as 250 species of indigenous and migratory birds. The Nal Sarovar Lake is inhabited by more than 200 species of mostly waterfowl like rosy pelicans, lesser and greater flamingos, purple moorhen, herons, crakes, Brahminy ducks, white storks, grebes, etc., making it a paradise for bird watchers.
Just like the rest of the state, the national parks in Gujarat are very well preserved and a treat for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. So which of these stunning national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Gujarat would you visit next?