Visiting Gir in the Sizzling Summer

Going to Gir in Summer??? Sounds crazy, but if you would like to see more of the big cats, then this is certainly the time to brave out the dusty hot winds and be prepared to have a date with Sherkhan - the King of the Jungle. If you have some fleeting luck like I did, you might just get an equally fleeting glance of the Prince of the Jungle - the beautiful Leopard. Summer time means that the landscape is quite dry and chances of sighting  the Lion and other mammals are better than at other times of the year. Besides, the animals are more likely to come to the water holes for drinking water

This was a camp organised by BNHS ( for its members. 24 of us with our young and enthusiastic group leader Asif spent 3 enjoyable and rewarding days at the last home of the Asiatic Lion.
And while you are looking out for those awesome animals, do not forget to spot the beautiful resident birds in their breeding plummage. Enjoy the cyber-safari and don't blame me if you feel like packing your bags to get a personal feel of the place. LOL!

Birdlife of Gir

Besides being world famous for seeing the Asiatic Lion in the wild, Gir is also a rich birding area and Birders have estimated around 300 species. A good time to visit for birding is between December to February when many migrants can be seen. However, the hot months of May also shows many resident species in breeding plummage and giving mating calls. This time it was good sightings of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher mostly females and the Tickell's Flycatchers - both birds of the forest.

Female of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher gave good displays
Changeable Hawk eagle
Tickell's Flycatcher
Indian Scops owl beautifully camouflaged
Grey Francolin
Pied Kingfisher
Time to woo the ladies - a male Indian Peafowl doing his courting display before the Peahens
Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Add captionHoney Buzzard
Asian Openbill
Indian Darter
Red-rumped Swallow near Kamleshwar Dam
White-throated Kingfisher with his meal
above and below -More views of this beauty - Tickell's Flycatcher

Eurasian Thickknee
Black Ibis
White-browed Fantail Flycatcher building its nest
Pond Heron at Hiran River just ouside my resort
White-browed Wagtail
Male of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher taken on the birding trail late evening
Another catch from the late evening birding trail - Orietal White-eye
Ashy Prinia

In the presence of Royalty

A very hot and uncomfortable afternoon safari for the first few hours where we see some good bird sightings. However, a good sighting of the Lion still eludes us. The morning safari did show a sleeping lioness with cubs but not good enough to click decent pictures. My visit to Gir this time is with the hope of getting good pictures of the male lion.

We are amply rewarded for our efforts. a forest guard on motorbike informs us that a male lion is walking towards a watering hole for his daily drink. As we near the spot, two jeeps are already ahead of us with trackers keeping close guard and regulating the movement of vehicles. Camera in hand, I am happily clicking every angle and every movement of this majestic creature who graciously tolerated our long presence even at close quarters. Here are just a few of my wonderful moments with him. I'snt he really royal?

Cannot wait to capture him even with another jeep in front of me
And finally our vehicle is right behind him
Drinking his full quota of water
Taking some rest before another long drink
and now he is opposite me while drinking- giving good views
Aahh - had his fill of water to last for the next 12 hours
majestically walking alongside my vehicle
Marking his territory
enough of these humans trailing me - when will they drive off???
Treat these humans with the contempt they deserve!!!

Mammal Life of Gir

Soon after our bonanza with the Lion, we found this Prince of the jungle a full grown male leopard bound across the road that startled us all.  Gir has a healthy population of leopards, perhaps the highest in any national park. In sharp contrast to the Lion or tiger, the Leopard is a comparatively shy and cunning animal that is scared of human activity. However, that makes him a lot more difficult to see and even more dangerous.So this was a real bonus after the Lion sighting. Here he is crouching between the trees watching us carefully in hunting mode, before he suddenly springs up and bounds into the jungle. Now that made our day!

Other mammals were a fleeting glance of the Black-naped Hare, Indian Grey Mongoose, Blue Bull (Nilgai), and lots of spotted deer and Sambar. An interesting sight to see these two male Spotted deer in combat when suddenly another large male came on the scene and they immediately stopped their battle in deference to authority.


Sambar feeding

In and around the Lion Safari Camp

The Lion Safari Camp is located off the main Sasan Gir Road and is a scenic 2 kms drive through the wilderness. The Hiran river runs beside it and is a good habitat for birding trails. Of course do not rule out a chance encounter with mammals especially the big cats. On the last morning, we did find the pugmarks of a leopard close to our resort.

The stay is in luxury a.c tents - unfortunately that means that there is a large wooden door which for me takes away the charm of a true tent experience. Here are some views in and around the campsite.

Entry to the Resort

A domestic cat watching us from its comfy position
View of the resort from the opposite bank of the Hiran River
Resort during the night
My tent number 19
a view of the pathway
Dance by the Siddhis - the Siddhis are orignally from Africa - were brought by the Nawab of Junagadh to work as bonded labour in the fields
Carrying fodder for the cattle
Fresh Pugmarks of a Male Leopard near our resort
women happily working in the field - encounters with wild animals cannot be ruled out, but this has been done for generations
Above and below - a Hindu Temple on the banks of the Hiran River
The Hiran river at dusk
Please click on "Older Posts" below right to go the the next page