India's National Parks
Gir Forest National Park
In the southwest of the peninsular state of Gujarat, lies the 116 square-mile sanctuary created to protect the last wild population of lion outside Africa. The Gir is a mixed deciduous forest with teak, flame of the forest, some acacia and banyan trees. It is a hilly tract with many rivers and offers long pleasant drives of beauty. Since 1913 when the lion population fell drastically to just 20 animals, the numbers have increased to around 239 (1985 census). The Asiatic lion is slightly smaller than its African cousin is and its mane is smaller. Other animals in the park are leopard, sambar deer, chital spotted deer, nilgai antelope, chowsingha four-horned antelope, chinkara gazelle, wild boar, langur monkey, jackal, and hyena.
Keoladeo Ghana (Bharatpur) National Park
While many of India's parks have been developed from the hunting preserves of princely India, Keoladeo Ghana was created by a maharaja. By diverting water from a nearby irrigation canal, a fabulous ecosystem which sustains a wealth of birdlife was created. Over 350 species of birds find refuge in Bharatpur's 11 square miles of shallow lakes and woodland. It is considered to be unique in the total number of bird species as well as the quantity of birdlife which it harbors. It has an impressive assortment of land and arboreal birds, but the grand spectacle is provided by the aquatic species. For example, there are four species of cormorants, eight species of egrets, three ibises, 17 species of duck and geese, and two species of crane. The Siberian Crane is one of the rarest species in the world, and Bharatpur is its only known wintering ground in India.
Special thanks to Nina Rao of Rare Earth Explorations for contributions on India's parks.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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