05 hand-picked vacation destinations that are worth a visit in Gujarat


  1. The north west desert ( rann of Kutch )

The white sands portrayed in the tourism of ‘Khushbu Gujarat Ki’ are well within travel reach. This place is an ideal for winter travel as daytimes are less hot while night are really entrancing.

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White Rann of Kuch

Special attraction: there is a place in the Banni Grasslands which is adjoining the Rann of Kutch where according to locals one can see floating lights move around the air. Locals call the phenomenon ‘cheer batti’ or ghost lights which can be seen 2 to 10 feet off ground. Scientists believe the lights are scientific photo emission by oxidation of Phosphine and Disphosphane gases however local legends can be fun to hear over a full moon for adrenaline seeking travelers.

  1. Gir Forest and Girnar
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Cubs been fed my Lioness at Gir Lion National Park, Sasan Gir 

This region between Junagadh and Amreli district are known for its diverse wildlife. It is home to the Asiatic Lion and the Girnar Mountain. This place can be of great adventure for people who find solace in the wild.

Special attraction: the place is the world’s second home to Lions outside Africa. One can also get a chance to mingle with the local ‘siddi’ population whose ancestry can be traced back to African tribes. The mountain Girnar is also a host to ‘Naga Babas’ or naked saints and witnessing them is considered a good omen. It is also a known fact that the formation of this mountain is older than the Himalayan Range.

  1. The deep forests of Dang
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Saputara, only Hill Station of Gujarat in Dang Forest Region

Popular among travelers as Saptuara forest; this place is a good winter retreat. The place has a lot to offer for tourists ranging from treks and hiking to a whole unexplored wildlife.

Special attractions: there are a lots of hotels that offer stay in three houses which can be of interest. There might also be a few waterfalls to visit in this area. Taking a good day’s hike in the forests can be of great adventure.

  1. Dwarka & Somnath
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Somnath Temple overlooking Somnath Beach 

These places are of high religious importance. Each of them has a unique spiritual experience to offer.

Special attraction: dwarka is home to ‘bet dwarka’ which is like the lost city of Atlantis and is submerged in water. Somnath is one of the ‘Jyotirlings’ which lord Shiva himself has established which makes it a very significant destination for religious and spiritual people alike. Somnath also has a beach.

  1. Diu & Daman
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Diu 

Contrary to popular befief, Diu & Daman are far away from each other. However both of them offer a good winter gateway with coastal climate and beaches.

Special Attraction: it wouldn’t be wrong to mention it is one of special attractions for anyone wanting to unwind a bit. Daman is soon to be host to onshore gaming complexes (casinos) and it has recently been host to Sunburn Music Festival. Diu is known for its Diu Fort and the Naida Caves.

When the travel bug bites all these places can be on the list for the various special attractions they have to offer. Tourists not wanting to travel far off lands can find proximity in all of these places. After all; all of them have ‘Khushboo Gujarat ni’ in common.

3 cubs’ death exposes foresters’ callousness


The train accident that claimed three Asiatic lion cubs near Pipavav ( Gujarat, India ) on Wednesday night has raised serious questions about the forests department’s seriousness in ensuring the safety of these endangered wild cats, many of which have strayed from their original home in Gir ( Sasan, Gujarat, India ).

Three lion cubs were crushed to death near Rampara (Gujarat, India) railway crossing about a kilometer from Pipavav.

After a series of incidents last year in which lions were killed under trains in this particular area, the forest department had deployed trackers along the five km railway stretch between Baraftana junction and Pipavav railway station (both places are in Gujarat, India).

However, sources conformed to TOI that around 53 trackers were relieved by the department on March 31.

Forest officials, however, denied relieving them. “We have not relieved any tracker as they are casual laborers and we call them whenever we need them”, M.R. Gurjar, deputy conservator of forests, (social forestry), Amreli division, told TOI.

Interestingly, as soon as the news about the lion cubs’ death spread, all the trackers who were relieved were called to join work immediately.

“We were finding it difficult to handle the wild cats that come to the tracks. This required round the clock duty but surprisingly we were told not to come after March 31”, said a tracker, requesting anonymity.

There are around 60 to 70 lions along the costal parts of Rajula and Jafrabad Taluka (in Gujarat, India) of Amreli District.

Courtesy – Time of India

Missing cub traced, may find new family soon


The cub that had gone missing ever since the body of his mother was shifted from the forest has been traced and is under constant watch by the department. The cub will soon find a new family.

At present the cub is showing signs of post traumatic syndrome and running away from foresters. It was doing so even on seeing Rana Madi, who was led to the dead mother by this 18 – month old cub. Officials following the developments said they want to cage the cub and carry out a health check before allowing it to move around on its own or be released in another group.

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On Saturday, foresters had the carcass of an 11- year old lioness, who had been gored to death by a buffalo herd. The carcass was found by a beat guard who had been led to the dead mother by an 18- month old cub.

Forest officials were surprised by this unprecendented incident, which was confirmed by the postmortem report. the postmortem pointed to the lioness having multiple fractures in her ribs and that she had died of an intestinal hemorrhage.

However, as the cub and mother were alone, the forest department will ensure a safe release of the cub in another group. “ we have in the past carried out such safe releases and orphan cubs have been accepted. The release is mostly done in groups that have cubs of the same age, so that the orphan is easily accepted”, says deputy conservator of forests Anshuman Sharma.

He said that the dead lioness had two cubs, one of which had died seven months ago.

“The department has identified a couple of groups in Khambha and Jambudi area and once the cub is caged it will get a safe monitored release in one of these groups,” said Sharma.

The officials said the department was observing the behavior of the groups identified before the cub can be released.

Courtesy – Times of India 

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE


India’s forests, wetlands, deserts, mountains, rivers and rainforests host a diversity of bird and wildlife that is one of the richest in the world. We give you practical tips and suggestions about where to sight…

Asiatic Lion: The only place in the world where you are likely to spot the wild, uncaged, endangered Asiatic lion, is ironically, at the former hunting ground for the king of the jungle – the Gir National Park in Gujarat, which has a population of about 400 Asiatic lions. Since, as a rule, lions are known not to attack once they have had a good meal, if you are lucky, you might chance upon a pride of lions in post-prandial hushful response.

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Bengal-Tiger-4Bengal Tiger: The ultimate lone ranger, the Bengal Tiger survives by itself, often hunts in the dead of the night, is mighty sneaky and pretty spry and the sound of its roar can be heard three kilometres away. Though critically endangered, you are most likely to spot the Bengal Tiger at national parks like Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Kanha and also at the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.

 

 

 

leopardLeopard: The leopard is superjock – an excellent swimmer, a superb climber and armed with plenty of stealth, muscles and power, it makes for a formidable predator in the wild. The best places to spot the leopard are the Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka and the tiny hamlet of Bera in Rajasthan. You can also try your luck at the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka or at Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand.

 

 

 

desert foxDesert Fox: The best place to spot the desert fox, also known as the white-footed fox, is in the massive parchedness of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan or in the salt marshes of the Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Ran of Kutch in Gujarat. While in the sanctuary, you might as well appreciate the Indian Wild Ass, that exists only here and in the high plateus of Tibet.

 

 

 

hyenaHyena: May be it’s the singular sound they make or maybe it’s the fact they are scavengers, but hyenas have, for centuries now, endured general contempt and obloquy. They don’t quite deserve it though, for they are usually smart, surprisingly monogamous and generally step out of their dens only when it’s dark. Head to the Blackbuck National Park in Velavadar, Gujarat for a sure-shot sighting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

indian_wolf_jpg_69460Indian wolf: The wild dog-like Indian wolf can look misleadingly demesticable. But know that even though it is smallest of the wolf subspecies, the Indian wolf is ferocious and known to prey on human when natural prey is not available. They usually move in packs of six or eight and hunt by ambush. To check them out, head to the Blackbuck National Park in Velavadar, Gujarat or to the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Nannaj, Maharasthra.

 

 

 

golden langurGolden Langur: There are only two places in the world where you can see the lush beauty of golden langur: India and Bhutan. An herbivore, the golden langur lives on fruits, nuts, seeds and leaves. Today, the golden langur is endangered and very few individuals survive in the wild. Head to Manas National Park in Assam and try to look upward on high trees to see if you can catch a glimpse of this gorgeous primate.

 

 

 

 

ridlet turtleOlive Ridley Sea Turtles: These turtles make their way to the sea after hatching at the Rushikulua, Devi and Gahirmatha in Odisha from the largest breeding ground for these turtles in India. The synchronised nesting (anywhere between 100000-500000 annually) and march of these turtles towards the seas makes for a spectacular site that is not one to be missed.

Lion Deaths Rattle Government


The Gujarat government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the Tuesday night’s incident where two lions were run over by a speeding vehicle near Jafrabad in Amreli District ( Rajkot, Gujarat ) additional chief secretary, forest and environment department, H.K. Dash said on Wednesday that the inquiry will be conducted by the chief wildlife warden.

The lions, both about 18 months old, were run over when a pride was crossing the coastal highwat near Hemal Village on Bhavnagar – Somnath Highway. This was the first incident of lions being killed in road accident forest
department, on Wednesday registered a case against the driver of an unidentified vehicle in this case.
While wildlife activists in Amreli ( Rajkot, Gujarat ) have blamed the string of lion deaths recently in this coastal belt on the laxity of forest department, the government has said that it has taken a series of measures after the January 22 incident where two lionesses, one of them pregnant with three cubs, were run over by a train near Pipavav Port.

“This was waiting to happen as there is no night patrolling and enough staff in Rajula and Jafarabad forest range to track the lions’ movement. There are over 40 lions settled in Rajula – Jafarabad coastel belt but no regular monitoring of lions is done. Since lions have settled around industrial area, railway track and busy roads, there is an urgent need to constantly track them to avoid such accidental deaths,” said Vipul Laheri, honorary wildlife warden, Amreli ( Rajkot, Gujarat )

Meanwhile, Dash said that on February 14, the forest department and railways had a meeting to discuss ways to avoid such incidences. “As many as 82 trains drivers have been trained on precautions to take in the area. They have been given maps of sensitive areas where lions frequently cross the tracks.”

“We have also called a meeting with National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to chalk out ways to prevent any such occurrences on reads,” he said. A senior forest official told TOI that they have also trained 20 trackers in the Rajula belt to monitor.

Courtesy:- Times of India

Lion territory doubles in three years


Big cats now rule 20,000 sq Km area

The king of the jungle has conquered new territories. About one – third of the Saurashtra region has been marked as Asiatic Lion inhabited areas by the state forest department. A recent study based on frequent ion kills and compensation given to farmers says the big cats rule over a huge 20,000 sq km of area – almost double the 10,500 sq km recorded in the May 2010 census.

A detailed analysis reveals that there are about 1,500 villages in Saurashtra where lions regularly venture out to kill domestic as well as herbivorous animals. Most of these villages are located in Junagadh ( Gujarat, India ), Amreli ( Rajkot, Gujarat, India )and some even in Bhavnagar ( Gujarat, India ).

Experts say this is a result of good conservation efforts put in by the state government. The Gir National Park ( Sasan Gir, Gujarat, India ) and sanctuary is unable to contain the growing population of the lions – the numbers have constantly grown from 284 in 1990 to 304 ( 1995 ), 327 ( 2000 ), 359 ( 2005 ) and 411 according to the last census held in 2010. The first census of independent Gujarat state conducted in 1968 had put the lion population at 177.

The next census, due in 2015, will be carried out over an area of 20,000 sq km.

Forest department officials believe that out of 411 lions recorded in the last census, 114 have started into newer areas. Since the big cat can live close to friendly human habitations, It has moved out of forest corridors where is feeds on domestic cattle.

Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forests, who conducted the study says, “The study does not take into account stray kills. We have identified areas where the lion presence has been continuous over longer periods”.

Courtesy:- Times of India 

Tourists flock Gir Lion Sanctuary (Junagadh, Gujarat) on opening day of season


Dekho dekho kaun aaya? Sher dekhne India Aaya! The first day of the opening of the Gir sanctuary (Junagadh, Gujarat)  saw a historic rise in the number of people from the length and breadth of the country thronging the Gir National Park (Sasan Gir, Junagadh, Gujarat) to have a dekho at the king of Jungle – the Asiatic lion.

As many as 1,785 people visited Gir (Junagadh, Gujarat) – double the number last year – on the day the park was opened for visitors post monsoon on Wednesday. On October 16th last year, when the sanctuary reopened, about 935 people had visited the park.

Abdul Kadir, a businessman from Kolkata came all the way to spend Eid holiday with the Asiatic Lion. He spotted six lioness and cubs in the Kardi in Gir Sanctuary (Junagadh, Gujarat). “I booked online and would have gone back happy had I spotted even one lion’.

Officials said the major attraction among tourists were the five cubs who are in lodged Devalia Interpretation (Sasan Gir, Junagadh, Gujarat) zone. It was during the wildlife celebrations that the forest department had named the male cubs as Shardul, Yuvraj and Vanraj, while the female cubs will be identified as Heer and Mallika.

Another tourist, Mahendra Gard, said, “We had relatives from Kerala who had come to visit Dwarka and Somnath. We decided to visit Gir first and were lucky to sight two lionesses. It was a great experience to see a lion in the green as the forest is still lush because of the extended monsoon.”

Local guide Hitesh Solanki said that he has never seen such a rush in his 13- year- long stint here. According to conservator of forest, R.L. Meena, the Amitabh Bachchan campaign had played a major role in increasing the tourist flow.

 

Courtesy:- Times of India

Foreigners take lion’s share in Gir’s (Sasan Gir, Junagadh, Gujarat) festive season e-booking


Till Friday 500 tourists from Abroad made bookings, against 398 Indians

It is as if foreign nationals were waiting for the best chance to book their tryst with Asiatic lions. Even since online bookings began on October 3, over 900 booking have been done and of these 502 were foreign nationals or from overseas.

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Officials said that of the 900 bookings till Friday evening, only 398 are for Indian nationals and of theses, over 60% are from outside Gujarat. Officials said that the maximum bookings from within the state were for November 4 to November 8 – New Year to Labh Pancham – when business establishments are closed.

Officials said the forest department had launched online booking service precisely in order to facilitate foreigners and those coming from outside Gujarat for a visit to Sasan Gir (Junagadh, Gujarat). The department has launched the online facility and also facilitated payment by credit or debit card for visits to the Gir Interpretation Zones at Sasan and Devaliya (Gujarat). The Sanctuary reopens on October 15.

 

Courtesy:- Times of India 

Lioness Laxmi’s lucky five in Zoo


Three Year Old Mother in Gir (Junagadh, Gujarat, India) has Given birth to a Record litter, all the cubs are healthy 

Five seems to be the lucky number for Laxmi. This three year old lioness in Gir (Junagadh, Gujarat, India) has given birth to a litter of five. Interestingly, Laxmi herself was one of a litter of five born to lioness named Shyama.

At her age, Laxmi should usually be learning the tricks of hunting, but she is already a mother and playing the role with tremendous ease. She is taking good care of the cubs and is protecting them from all kinds of threats of jungle life.

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On May 17, 2013, Laxmi gave birth to five cubs in Gir Interpretation Zone at Devaliya (Sasan Gir, Junagadh, Gujarat, India). The cubs are now 75 days old and weigh between 3.5 and 4 kg. The cubs have begun to supplement the mother’s milk with meat as they have already developed teeth. “This is a remarkable feat as normally a lioness gives birth to 2 to 3 cubs and it is rather rare for all the cubs to survive. Laxmi deserves praise for her mothering skills well proved by the thriving brood,” said a forest officer.

Gujarat’s chief wildlife warden C.N. Pandey said, “Laxmi has inherited good genes. She was born on May 3, 2010, at Sakarbaug Zoo, Junagadh (Gujarat, India) to lion Daksh and lioness Shyama. However, her mother Shyama could raise only three of them. The rest died in their infancy. Laxmi has been able to achieve a record”.

“A lioness can feed only four cubs at a time. But Laxmi has been able to work around this biological limitation. This example illustrate that Asiatic lions are genetically strong and competent,” said Pandey. “The forest department continues to play a leading role in biodiversity conservation through dedicated management and support to nature with skill care. It is crucial that each and every individual of an endangered species is protected with proper skills and capability”.

“Birth to five cubs in a litter is extremely rare,” an official of the department said.

“We were not sure if Laxmi would be able to raise all five cubs. But she was to make a record in the known history of Asiatic Lion management. Laxmi, supported by the forest department staff, she has been able to ensure that all of her survive,” the official said.

Courtesy:- Times of India

Gujarat readies to clone its Lions


Sets up DNA Banks to preserve and improve Gene pool

Like humans, Asiatic Lions now have a gene bank with a cloning facility. In collaboration with the Gujarat State Bio-Technology Mission (GSBTM), the forest department has already collected 80 strains of DNA of the Asiatic lion.

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The DNA banking of lions will not only be useful for further diseases and management related issues, but will also help to have healthy lion genes. An exclusive “Institute of Wildlife Genomics and DNA Banking” will be set up by the end of this year.

Akshaykumar Saxena, the GSBTM Director, says, “The institute is a joint collaboration of the forest department and the GSBTM, and will come up in Gandhinagar(Gujarat). We are already working on the project”.

The institute will help the department to overcome fears that the genes of the lions are deteriorating, as the institute will have a data bank of genes of different types of lions in Gir Region (Gujarat, India). Having lineage data will help the wildlife experts evaluate breeding stress and diseases susceptibility, say officials. The DNA bank will also have embryo transfer technology to supplement highly endangered species.

asian-lion-sleeping_452_990x742An official says, “The institute will help identify the cats with the best genes, which will be introduced at the gene pool centre set up at Sakarbaugh Zoo (Junagadh, Gujarat, India) and Rampara Virdi (Rajkot, Gujarat, India).

Once the institute is fully operational, various studies related to diseases and other management aspects of lions will be taken up. The genetic material stored in these banks will be used to increase genetic diversity. Material from DNA banks can be used to infuse small populations with new genetic material, increasing their chances of survival. Another goal of DNA banks is to increase the population size.

In 1999, at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered species a domestic house cat gave birth to an African wildcat kitten that had been frozen as an embryo in a DNA bank. This was the first example of inter species birth. In 2000, the Center produced test-tube Caracal cats from sperm that had been stored in their DNA bank.

Officials say that the GSBTM is also in the process of collecting samples of cubs born at Rampara virdi (Rajkot, Gujarat, India) to study their genes. The GSBTM also plans to carry out a study of the Pestes Des Petits Ruminants Virus (PPRV).

Courtesy:- Times of India

 

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