A country is known by the way it treats its animals
Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gujarat
Gujarat is a paradise for bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Deciduous forests, desert plains, grasslands, wetlands and coastal and marine locations have made Gujarat one of the most pleasant place for bird watching and wildlife viewing. The last Asiatic lions are found in the Gir National Park, in the Rann of Kutch are the only surviving wild asses in India and the Velavadar National Park conserves the rare, swift footed blackbuck. The Rann is also the only nesting ground in India of the large flamingo. Throughout most of the state there is a naturally rich bird life, peacocks and parrots are the most common. Migratory birds from North Eurasia find Gujarat a pleasant winter resting ground. With its long coastline, Gujarat enjoys the good fishing waters. Pomfret, a favourite in restaurants throughout the country is caught here, as are prawns, tuna and Bombay Duck which is salted and dried fish. There are about four national parks and twenty one wildlife sanctuaries in Gujarat. Some of the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Gujarat are the Marine National Park, Gir National Park, Indian Wild Ass Wildlife sanctuary, Velavadar National Park. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Khijadia Bird Sanctuary and the Porbandar Bird sanctuary are the other bird sanctuaries in Gujarat.
Some Wild Life Sanctuaries found in Gujarat:
Some extremely rare wildlife dwells in Gujarat. The Asiatic Lion is found only in Gir. The Wild Ass in the Rann of Kutch, the rare great Indian bustard in the bird reserves, the world’s only four-horned antelope and the Black Buck are some other valued species protected in Gujarat.
Wild Life in Gujarat is not restricted to National Parks and Sanctuaries as resident and migratory birds frequent ponds, lakes and riversides in Gujarat cities. Peacocks, jackals, saras cranes, woodland birds and many more flock gardens, parks and across places.
Wild Life is a preserved and protected in Gujarat. In Gujarat, the Forest Department educates the common man in the field of wildlife conservation and environmental awareness. Steps are taken to educate Approaches to Conservation Strategy in Gujarat by way of Seminars, Training, tours and nature lover’s clubs.
National Parks of Gujarat:
Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary
The Gir – the largest compact tract of dry deciduous forests in the semi-arid western part of India is the last abode of the big and regal predator Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), an endangered species. The sanctuary is internationally acclaimed for successfully saving this precious species from the brink of extinction. It was declared as a sanctuary in 1965. Subsequently, an area of 258.71 sq. km. was declared a National Park.
Gir lies has a topography made up of succession of rugged ridges, isolated hills, plateaus and valleys. Besides, being the last abode of Asiatic lions, Gir forms a unique habitat for ratel, rusty spotted cat, pangolin, ruddy mongoose, civets, paradise flycatcher etc.
Teak, dudhlo, khair, ber, desi baval, dhav, hermo, sadad, timru, ashitro, saledi, modad, khakhro etc.
The Gir forests support a rich biodiversity comprising 32 species of mammals, 300 species of birds and 26 species of reptiles and thousands of species of insects.
Blackbuck National Park
This small part of Bhal region (34.52 sq.km.), which was declared as Blackbuck National Park in July 1976, is open grassland. The sanctuary has been declared primarily for Blackbucks. The beauty of the grassland is enhanced by the movements of blackbucks and nilgais, which one can see from long distances. The blackbuck is most conspicuous for its jumping over the levels of grass.
Park is largely grassland with a few pockets of Prosopis chilensis. It is a fascinating savannah habitat
Important animals-Blackbuck, bluebull, wolf, jackal, jungle cat, fox etc. Important Birds- Lesser florican, Houbara bustard, White stork, Harriers, Sarus cranes etc.
Vansda National Park
The thick foliage of the luxuriant moist deciduous forest, predominantly represented by lofty teak trees and their usual floral associates are the chief attributes of Vansda National Park, which was declared as protected area in April 1979. The sanctuary has abundance of reptiles like python, venomous snakes like Russel’s viper, cobras and kraits. The croaking, chirping, and humming of a variety of insects create a silent symphony of melodious sounds of nature.
High species diversity of forest birds is the main attraction for an eco-tourist.
Important animals-Leopard, rhesus macaque, wild boar, hanuman langur, common palm civet, small Indian civet, Indian porcupine, four-horned antelope, barking deer, hyena, jungle cat, flying squirrel, python, Russel’s viper, etc.
Important birds- 155 species of birds: Indian great black woodpecker, yellow back sunbird, pompodour pigeon, malabar trogon, shama, common grey hornbill, jungle babbler, forest spotted owlet (globally threatened) etc.
Marine National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary
Marine National Park and Sanctuary, Jamnagar, was declared as National Park and Sanctuary in August’ 1980.
Marine National Park and Sanctuary falls in the inter-tidal zone along the Jamnagar coasts and islands in the Gulf of Kachchh. Blessed with a great diversity of habitats, its coral reefs and mangroves and the series of 42 islands form a unique, though fragile, eco-system, which supports an amazing marine life and biodiversity.
Narara is one of the important tourists’ destinations. Although it is an island, it is well connected with the mainland. It is also known for its vast inter-tidal zone, facilitating viewing of marine invertebrates. It is therefore, a very good nature education site.
Similarly, Pirotan is another tourist attraction where all kinds of invertebrates are easily visible. If you intend to go to Pirotan island, please remember that you will need high tide to reach the island by boat from the creeks (20 nautical miles). There is a time gap of 12 hours between the two high tides during the day. Therefore, once you cross the creek to Pirotan island, you will be able to return only during next tide after about 12 hours.
The time when you will get the tide on a particular day depends on its date as per the lunar calendar shown in the graphic below. The tide timings shown below are approximate and not exact.
You should reach at Bedi Bandar or Nava Bandar (boarding point for creek crossing) one hour before the high tide.
• Wild Ass Sanctuary
• Nal Sarovar Birds Sanctuary
• Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary
• Barda Wild Life Sanctuary
• Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary
• Marine Sanctuary
• Narayan Sarovar Sancuary
• Khijadia Bird Sanctuary
• Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Sanctuary
• Kutchh Desert Wild Life Sanctuary
• Rampara Wild Life Sanctuary
• Thol Wild Life Sanctuary
• Shoolpaneshwar Wild Life Sanctuary
• Porbandar Birds Sanctuary
• Pania Wild Life Sanctuary
• Balaram Ambaji Wild Life Sanctuary
• Jambuhoda Wild Life Sanctuary
• Purna Wild Life Sanctuary
• Kutchh Bustard Sanctuary
Wild ASS Sanctuary
Indian Wild Ass (EQUUS HEMIONUS KHUR)
Wild Ass Sanctuary encompasses an area of 4953.71 sq. km. of the Little Rann of Kachchh and the districts of Surendranagar, Rajkot, Patan, Banaskantha and Kachchh. Easily spotted in big groups in the vast span of desert throughout the year, this population of wild ass is the only gene pool of Indian Wild Ass in the entire world and one of the six geographical varieties or sub-species surviving on the earth.
Owing to the uniqueness of the area and the existence of the rare and endangered species such as dalmatian pelican, lesser flamingo, sarus crane, caracal, desert fox, black cobra etc., the area is being considered to be declared as one of the world heritage sites. Internationally the area is recognized for its natural and geomorphological value and has high biodiversity conservation significance.
The Indian Wild Ass is the major fauna and centre of attraction. The wildlife includes great number of birds.
Important animals- Wild ass, bluebull, hare, wolf, Indian fox, jackal, hyena, wild boar, desert cat etc.
Important birds- Houbara bustard, eagle, pale harrier, black shouldered kite, pelican, herons, spoonbill, greater and lesser flamingoes, great crested grebe, common cranes, etc.
Nal Sarovar Birds Sanctuary
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is a spectacular natural lake with shallow waters and muddy lagoons, dotted by 360 islets. It offers an ideal wintering ground for thousands of migratory birds. These birds travel tiring lengths from Central Asia, Europe and Siberia to escape from severe cold of harsh winter there. In addition to migratory birds, many resident as well as local migratory birds also visit this place. This lake and the wetlands around it were declared a bird sanctuary in April’ 1969.
It is thrilling to canoe through such shallow water and come very close to the flocks of pelicans, large groups of flamingoes and coots and different types of ducks.
Migratory birds start arriving here in October and stay till April. Their population reaches its peak in mid winter.
There are 360 islets in the lake. Most of them lie exposed when the water level is low. The lake gets filled with water that drains from the adjoining Surendranagar and Ahmedabad districts in the monsoon. With this fresh water inflow, brackishness in the lake is reduced considerably.
The sheer number of birds that is encountered in this beautiful place leaves the bird-watchers spellbound. As you move towards the islets through the sedges and aquatic grass, you hear sudden fluttering of thousands of birds.
Both the flamingoes i.e. Lesser and Greater inhabit Nalsarovar. The former frequents the sanctuary during monsoon and post monsoon periods whereas the latter becomes abundant as the salinity increases after the monsoon.
A very significant conservation value of Nalsarovar lies in its large congregation of important birds such as Grey-lag geese, Open-bill stork, Glossy ibis, Coots, Cranes etc. It is also noteworthy that of the three species of pelicans in India, the two species viz. Rosy and Dalmatian pelicans are found here.
The sanctuary area has 48 species of algae and 72 species of flowering plants. The common aquatic plants are Cyperus sp., Scirpus sp., Typha ungustata, Eleocharis palustris, Ruppia, Potamogeton, Vallisnaria, Naias, Chara etc.
Important birds- The sanctuary has about 250 bird species, which include greater and lesser flamingoes, pelicans, ducks & geese, rails, coots, cranes, cormorants, herons, egrets, storks, ibises, spoonbills, teals, sarus cranes, moorhens and waders etc.
Other animals- On southern or southwestern fringes, small herds of wild ass can be seen. Mongoose, jungle cat, Indian fox, jackal, wolf and hyena are also there.
Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary
Located in the lap of Aravalli hills in North Gujarat, bordering Rajasthan, Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary has many rare species of flora and fauna. The forests generally belong to the forest types of southern dry mixed deciduous and desert thorn forests. It is a home to the endangered sloth bear. The sanctuary derives its name from the picturesque Jessore hills of Aravalli ranges cutting across the sanctuary. The area was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in May 1978. The area has a great ecological significance as it acts as a buffer between the desert eco-system and the dry deciduous type of forest ecosystem.
The major floral species comprise Ber, gando baval, khair, Isaraily baval, dhav, dudhalo, gando baval, dhavado, saledi, kadaya, siras, gorad etc.
The flagship specie of the area is Sloth bear. The top carnivore, leopard cohabits the area with other vertebrates. Other important animals include rhesus macaque, Indian civet cat, Indian porcupine, striped hyena, fox, jackal, bluebull, wild boar, hare, langur, wolf etc. The reptiles include snakes, tortoises and lizards. The avifauna includes spurfowls, cuckoos, barbets, woodpeckers, tree pies, flycatchers, shrikes, spoonbills, storks, cranes, egrets and many raptors.
Barda Wild Life Sanctuary
Hardly 15 km. from the coast of Porbandar town of Porbandar district, the hilly forest of Barda is standing against the salinity ingress in the region. This area was declared as sanctuary in February’ 1979.
The sanctuary having a forest area of 192.31 sq. km. is relatively small in extent. However, it is characteristically abundant in floral diversity, which consists of a good number of medicinal plants. In fact, very high percentage of rare and endangered plants occurring in the area is an important component of the sanctuary. The area falls into two erstwhile princely states of the history i.e. Rana Barda, where Ranas of Porbandar ruled once upon a time and Jam Barda, where the rule of Jamsaheb of Jamnagar prevailed. The ethnic races such as Maldharis, Bharvads, Rabaris and Gadhvis live in this region of Saurashtra.
The area has maximum floral diversity in the state (650 plant species). Gorad, Babul, Dhav, Rayan, Ber, Jamun, Amli, Dhudhlo, Bamboo etc.
Important animals- Leopard, hyena, wild boar, wolf, jackal, bluebull etc.
Important birds : Rare and endangered spotted eagle and crested hawk eagle along with other numerous bird species. Sambar, chital and chinkara were present in the Sanctuary in recent past and therefore they can be re-introduced, as the habitat is quite suitable for these wild ungulates. This would create a good prey-base for a big carnivore like leopard. The soil and moisture conservation works can improve the water regime in the area and will have positive effect on the vegetation and the habitat and therefore more such works should be prescribed. Barda should also be considered for introduction of the Asiatic lion as it is considered as second home of this big carnivore. It is necessary to prepare a comprehensive management plan for Barda Sanctuary. To develop Barda as second home for Asiatic lion the State Government implemented ‘Gir-Barda Project’ from 1979.
Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary
Surrounded by rainfed arid land from all sides, this small wildlife sanctuary of Hingolgadh is a preferred habitat for Chinkara, blue bull and a very large number of resident and migratory birds. This sanctuary has a special ecological significance as the dry deciduous thorny forests and savannah type grasslands merge here. It plays a crucial role in the ground water conservation by recharging aquifers in the region. Declared as a sanctuary in 1980, the area has a high educational and recreational value.
The sanctuary is managed by Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation. Around 50-100 Nature Education Camps are organised by the Foundation every year during the monsoon season. The participants are generally school children.
The plant species density is relatively high as there are 314 species of plants, such as- gorad, desi baval, kasedo, neem, gugal, thor, satodi, batkumi etc. in a very small area.
The major fauna includes mammals like Chinkara, bluebull, wolf, jackal, fox, Indian porcupine, Indian hare, hyena, flying fox, etc. There are 230 species of birds and 19 species of snakes. Among the birds, Red-vented Bulbul, Green Bee-Eater, Spotted Dove, Shrike, Woodpecker, Indian roller etc. are common. The sanctuary has 19 species of snakes; of course not all of them are venomous. 16 non-venomous and 3 venomous species of snakes have been recorded from the area.
Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary
A unique eco-system- a part of which is a seasonal wetland in the arid zone that play mother to 15 threatened wildlife species and encompasses desert thorn and scrub forests, dotted with several seasonal water bodies and grassy patches is popularly known as Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary, notified as such in April 1981. This exceptional eco-system supports a rich biodiversity including some rare animals and birds and rare flowering plants.
The sanctuary has all the three species of bustards- Great Indian Bustard, Houbara Bustard and Lesser Florican. Also the Black Partridge, a typical bird of desert habitat is found here. 18 species of herpetofauna, 184 bird species including 19 species of raptors speak high of the sanctuary. The most sighted animal is the Chinkara.
Very large portion of the area of the sanctuary exhibits the edaphic climax of tropical thorn forest with tree height averaging 3 to 5 m. Major part of the sanctuary is under grassland and scrub forest.
There are 252 species of flowering plants e.g. Desi baval, gorad, hermo, ber, pilu, thor, gando baval, gugal, salai, ingorio, kerdo, carissa etc.
Important animals- Wolf, caracal, chinkara, desert fox, hyena, desert cat, porcupine, ratel, Indian pangolin, blue bull, mongoose, hare etc.
Important birds : Great Indian bustard, lesser florican, houbara bustard, black partridges, harriers, common cranes etc.
Khijadia Bird Sanctuary
Located near the coast of Jamnagar at a distance of 15 km. from the city. Khijadia Bird Sanctuary has an amazingly large number of resident and migratory birds in a relatively small area- particularly during winters. Declared a sanctuary in May 1981, the sanctuary is spread over just 6.05 sq. Km. However, the sanctuary and its adjoining areas bear a remarkable diversity of habitats and ecosystems which include marine habitat, fresh water habitat, marshy lands, mangroves, prosopis areas, salt pans, open mudflats, intertidal mudflats, creeks, scrubs sandy beaches and adjoining farmlands.
Due to its high diversity of landscapes, the sanctuary has a rare distinction of having maximum bird species density in the state with more than 220 species in a relatively very small area. This diversity has a special conservation value as it has several globally threatened species such as Dalmatian pelican, Darter, Asian open bill stork, Black-necked stork, Black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, Pallas’s fish eagle, Pallid harrier, Indian skimmer, Osprey etc. You may, therefore, reasonably hope to enjoy pleasant sighting of the pristine avifauna in large numbers.
Khijadia Bird Sanctuary is an outcome of two man-made structures (earthen reclamation bunds) in the midst of natural relief features. These bunds have been constructed to arrest fresh water from draining into the sea and to arrest the salinity ingress from the seaside. These dams have neatly separated fresh water from the seawater. Therefore, while you see seawater and related biodiversity on one side, you can watch fresh water and related biodiversity on the other side- with some species sharing both.
Emergent aquatic vegetation includes Typha ungustata, Scripus sp., Cyperus sp. and Saccharum spontaneum. Under water plants include Hydrilla verticellat, vallisnaria spiralis and najas minor and some important tree species like – gando baval, deshi baval, piloo etc.
Important birds- Pelicans, spoonbill, Indian skimmer, great crested grebe, little grebe, purple moorhen, ducks, coots, cormorants, herons, egrets, storks, ibises, gulls, terns, jacanas, darter, flamingoes etc. and many raptors.
Important animals : Jackal, jungle cat, blue bull, mongoose etc.
Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Sanctuary
This sanctuary harbours maximum population of sloth bears in the entire state, which is the star attraction in the wilds of Ratanmahals. The sanctuary falls in the Dahod district of Central Gujarat and is located very close to the tribal towns, Baria of Dahod district and Chhota Udepur of Vadodara district. This area was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in March 1982. The sanctuary falls on the border of Gujarat with Madhya Pradesh. The actual habitat of the Sloth bear, therefore, extends into Madhya Pradesh. The pristine beauty of forests in this small tract with rugged topography gives the feel of a hill station to wildlife enthusiasts.
For learning the habits and behaviour of the sloth bear, this sanctuary offers a unique opportunity as they are densely populated here. The sanctuary also has a large population of leopards.
The forests include dry teak forests at the foothills and mixed deciduous forests with dry bamboo brakes on the periphery. There are pure patches of timru and sadad as well. The high concentration of mahuda trees provides a favourite food to sloth bears.
Teak, dudhlo, sadad, timru, amla, bamboo, dhavdo, kakadiyo, mahuda, tanach, charoli, ber, jamun, khakhro etc. a total of 543 species of plants are recorded (119 species of trees, 40 species of shrubs, 238 species of herbs, 48 species of grasses, 87 species of climbers, 2 species of partial parasite and 9 species of orchids).
Important animals- Sloth bear, leopard, striped hyena, jackal, four-horned antelope, mongoose, porcupine, civet cat, jungle cat, hanuman langur etc.
Cobra, krait, Saw-scaled viper, Russel’s viper and Bamboo pit viper are the main venomous snakes found here. Python, Rat snake, Red sand boa, Trinket are the non-venomous snakes. Star tortoise, Flap-shell turtle, Chameleon and Termite hill gecko are also found here.
Important birds : 147 species of birds are recorded here 16 of which are terrestrial (nesting and foraging on ground such as grey jungle fowl, partridge, quail etc.). Alexandrine parakeet, common babbler, crested serpent eagle, green pigeon, hoopoe, lesser golden-backed woodpecker, grey jungle fowl, tailor bird etc. are some common species.
Kutch Desert Wild Life Sanctuary
His sanctuary, which is the largest in the state, encompasses a true saline desert where thousands of Flamingoes nest and breed in the world famous ‘Flamingo City’, while a 5000-year-old city lies buried in an eternal silence close by. This area was declared a sanctuary in February 1986.
Buried city Dholavira of Harappan civilization was excavated here, which attracts hordes of archeologists here from all across the world. Equally enticing is the Flamingo City located in the mud flats of the Rann, about 10 km. from Nir out post on Kala Dungar. It is the only area where flamingoes breed regularly.
Kachchh Desert Wildlife Sanctuary represents one of the largest seasonal saline wetland areas having water depth between 0.5 to 1.5 metres. But, after October-November, water dries up and the entire area turns into saline desert. The sanctuary supports wide variety of water birds and bewildering range of mammalian wildlife.
There are two hills named- Kala Dungar and Goro Dungar. On this hilly island exist several microhabitats. They include grassland, scrubland, barren wasteland, agricultural land, village ponds, irrigation reservoir etc. All of them provide habitat to the fauna of one or the other type. Both the hills represent rocky habitats, with or without scrubs like-Prosopis chilensis, kahri jar, mithi jar, gugal, thor, lai, khijado, gorad, hermo baval, kerdo, bokhano etc.
Important animals- Wolf, hyena, jackal, chinkara, wild ass, bluebull, wild boar, Indian porcupine, pale hedgehog, mongoose, rufous-tailed hare, desert fox, spiny tailed lizard etc.
Important birds : Greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, pelicans, black-necked storks, cormorant, Indian cormorant, brahmini duck, pintail, spotbill, shoveller, pochard, sandpiper, gulls, terns, stints, plovers etc.
The Sanctuary is mainly established to preserve the nesting ground of a magnificent bird; the flamingo or Greater Flamingo. It is the largest sanctuary encompassing a true saline desert, not to be found elsewhere in the world. It covers the only area in the country, where the Greater Flamingo breeds regularly in the north and northeast of Kala Dungar. Great Rann is very interesting from biological, ecological, geological and climatic points of view. It represents one of the largest seasonal saline wetland areas having the water depth ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 m. After October- November, water dries up and the area turns into saline desert.
An eco-tourist visiting the Sanctuary is exposed to fresh-cum-saline water wetland from monsoon to early winter and true saline desert from late winter to summer. He would see four hilly and rocky islands (‘bets’) viz., Pachchham, Khadir, Bela and Chorar, the first three being located in Kutch district and the last being located in Patan district. Khadir is the only island in true sense, other three being connected to the mainland from one or the other side.
The Pachchham island at the distance of about 80 km from Bhuj, is about 25 km long and 9 km wide and supports the hill called ‘Kala Dungar’, which represents the highest point (438 m) within the Sanctuary. Another hill called ‘Goro Dungar’ is slightly shorter and narrower than Kalo Dungar. Both the hills represent rocky habitats, with or without thorny scrubs like Ganda Baval (Prosopis juliflora) and Thor (Euphorbia nivula). Khadir bet (80 km north of Rapar), having an area of about 313 sq. km supports the hill called Chhapariya Dungar, whose northern flank overlooks the mudflats of the Great Rann. Bela bet, the eastern most major hilly island in Kutch district, supports two hills namely ‘Nilvo’ and ‘Muvano’.
Rampara Wild Life Sanctuary
Rampara Wildlife Sanctuary is the wooded area in an arid zone otherwise devoid of any noteworthy tree growth. The shrubby land interspersed with patches of grasses, harbours large number of species of plants, birds and mammals. This was declared a sanctuary in November 1988.
The terrain is plain in the middle of the sanctuary and rising and falling elsewhere. The hillocks on the fringes mark the boundary of the area. The sanctuary is an important area for the preservation of over 280 species of plants, over 130 species of birds and more than 20 species of mammals and equal number of birds species and many reptiles.
The watchtower on an elevated land area in the central part of the area provides the opportunity to the tourists to have full view of the sanctuary. One could see two streams with gushing water and quenching the thirst of the water-scarce land in the sanctuary.
Gorad, desi baval, kesudo, bor, dudhlo, khakhro, awal, khapat, hermo etc.
Important animals : wolf, jackal, hyena, common fox, hare, jungle cat, bluebull etc. 20 species of snakes are also found here.
Important birds : 130 species of birds are found. Among the birds, partridge, common peafowl, sandgrouse, ring dove, large gray babbler, purple sunbird, yellow-throated sparrow etc. are common.
Thol Wild Life Sanctuary
A shallow water reservoir and predominantly open water area, without island, reed beds give it a distinct ambience. This man-made wetland, declared as a sanctuary in November 1988, has high conservation value. The tallest flying bird of the world Sarus crane inhabits this area and is found in good number.
Large number of waterfowls gets attracted to this site due to the agricultural fields surrounding the lake, which provide sufficient food to them. The lake is also surrounded by good tree covers. There are more than 80 species of waterfowls reported at Thol.
Emergent and floating aquatic plants are there at Thol Bird Sanctuary alongwith some terrestrial trees and herbs such as desi baval, bor, neem, vad, pilu, gando baval, kerdo etc.
High species diversity of water birds is the main attraction for an eco-tourist.
Important birds : Cranes, geese, flamingoes, pelicans, egrets, herons, spoonbills, ducks, whistling teals etc.
Shoolpaneshwar Wild Life Sanctuary
This sanctuary has vast, undulating terrain, ever-pervading greenery, tall inspiring canopy, deep awesome valleys, somberly silent rocks, gentle youthful streams, majestic waterfalls, breathtaking landscapes, culminating at the congregation of Vindhyan-Satpura hill ranges. The sanctuary was first created in 1982 over an area of 150.87 sq. km. As “Dumkhal Sanctuary”- an important home for sloth bears. Subsequently, in 1987 and 1989, the area of the sanctuary was enlarged to 607.71sq. Km. and it was renamed as “Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary”.
The forest area rated as one of the best and thickest in the state, is spread over an area, which includes a major watershed feeding two major reservoirs with the Rajpipla hills as backdrop. The thick vegetative ground cover not only provides endless greenery and habitat and home to a variety of life forms, but also conserves the soil and water.
The sanctuary derives its name “Shoolpaneshwar” from a historic temple of Lord Shiva, which once existed in this region on the banks of river Narmada. The temple is now submerged due to the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir. However, a new Shoolpaneshwar temple has since been built near Rajpipla. The word “Shoolpaneshwar” refers to Lord Shiva portrayed as having “Shool” or “Trishul” in his hand i.e. `Pani’.
The area is predominantly tribal with ‘Vasavas’ as the main tribal community. The local population heavily depends on the forest produce for socio-economic sustenance. A mere glance at the tribal houses and habitations reflects their dependence on bamboos in every sphere of life. Bamboo is indeed `poor man’s timber’.
Large flying squirrel is a nocturnal forest animal. It roosts in tree holes or prepares large leaf nests. Squirrels call during night, which betrays their presence.
Although known as flying squirrel, it cannot fly and can only glide through the air, covering wide gaps. The membrane connecting its limbs forms a parachute that helps it glide.
The flora of the ecosystem represents semi-evergreen to moist deciduous forest. There are more than 575 species of flowering plants like timru, amla, khair, aritha, sadad, tanachh, karanj, bamboo, mahuda, bor, herde, amaltas etc. There are vast patches of bamboo crops often referred to as bamboo-brakes.
The sanctuary is a home for 32 species of mammals, several species of reptiles, 198 species of birds and countless insects.
Important animals : Sloth bear, leopard, rhesus macaque, common mongoose, Indian civet cat, Indian porcupine, four-horned antelope, barking deer, chital, pangolin, flying squirrel, python, snakes, lizards, tortoise etc. The sanctuary has the rare distinction of having flying squirrels. It is reported to have tigers, leopard cat and wild dogs in the past. However, tigers have not been sighted here for more than two decades.
Important birds : Crested serpent eagle, shikra, sparrow hawk, great-horned owl, gray hornbill, red and gray jungle fowls etc.
Porbandar Birds Sanctuary
Declared as a sanctuary in November’ 1988. Porbandar Bird Sanctuary in the Western part of the state provides the practical example of co-existence of man and nature. The sanctuary falls on the migratory route of the birds. The area supports good population of flamingoes and other resident and migratory waterfowls. In fact, during more favourable years, even flamingoes have been reported to prefer this area for nesting.
150 species of bird
Important birds : Flamingoes (greater and lesser), grebes, pelicans, ducks and geese, avocet, coots, cormorants, herons, egrets, bittern, storks, ibis, spoonbill, cranes, whistling teals, gulls, terns, jacanas, ruff, red shanks, Indian roller etc.
Balaram Ambaji Wild Life Sanctuary
Undulating hills of Aravali, supporting the dry deciduous forests of North Gujarat, provide an unimaginable beautiful ambience to Balaram-Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary derives its name from two historical temples- Balaram and Ambaji, situated at the opposite corners of the sanctuary. This picturesque area was constituted as a Wildlife Sanctuary by Government of Gujarat on 7th August’ 1989 for the purpose of protection, propagation and development of wildlife and its environment.
The area is characteristically rich in floral diversity- particularly medicinal plants. It has numerous floral and faunal species of global conservation significance. The rare flora comprises Kadaya (giving medicinal gum), Gugal, and Musali etc. The predominant trees are- Khair, Salai, Modad, Dhavada, Khakhara, Timru. During late winters (February-March) Khakhara- the flame of the forests- known by many different names such as- Palash, Tesu, Kesudo, Dhak etc. is generally in bloom with its striking red colour resembling flames in the forests.
The rare animals include sloth bear, striped hyena, leopard, bluebull, porcupine, fox, small Indian civet, Indian pangolin and a number of reptiles including venomous and non-venomous snakes, monitor lizards, star tortoise etc. The rare birds of this area are adjutant Stork, spoonbill, osprey, white backed Vulture and black vultures.
The area falls in the catchment of two rivers- Banas and Sabarmati.
The unique ecosystem harbours 483 species of plants including 107 of trees, 58 of shrubs, 219 of herbs, 49 of climbers, 40 of grass and 10 species of lower plants. Modad, khair, dhavado, saledi, kadaya, timru, khakhara, bor, desi baval, bili, dudhi, golar, kanji, indrajav, karanj, arjun sadad, jamun, behda etc.
Leopard is the top carnivore, which roams freely in the diverse habitat conditions.
Important animals : Leopard, rhesus macaque, sloth bear, Indian civet cat, Indian porcupine, hyena, wild boar, wolf, jackal, hare, langur, bluebull etc.
Important birds : The variety of birds inhabiting the sanctuary includes bulbul, Indian roller, woodpecker, grey hornbill, peafowl, barbet, shrikes etc. and many raptors.
Jambughoda Wild Life Sanctuary
Located in the Panchmahal district of Central Gujarat and declared as a sanctuary in May 1990, Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary is home for a variety of animals and plants. A small part of the sanctuary (Targol Round) falls in the adjoining Vadodara district. It’s a magnificent forest of teak, bamboos and other miscellaneous species. The area has two water reservoirs- one at Kada and the other at Targol. These water bodies add to the aesthetic settings and habitat diversity.
Leopard is the top predator here whose population has been increasing. The habitat is shared by other animals such as sloth bear, jackal, blue bull, wild boar and four horned antelopes.
The area has also many varieties of reptiles as well, which include many venomous and non-venomous snakes.
The area was a part of the princely state of Jambughoda prior to independence. The most striking feature of the area is the undulating hills having good forest cover with the valleys having small human settlements. The interesting places are Kada, Targol and Jhand Hanuman temple. The most picturesque location is Kada where a beautiful forest rest house stands on the banks of an irrigation reservoir. Kada happens to be a wonderful camping site as well. Due to its location close to a cosmopolitan city of Vadodara, the sanctuary is an ideal resort for city people and very good camping site for nature campers.
Sag, sadad, shisham, khair, mahuda, bamboos, timru, bor, dhav, bili, dudhalo etc.
Wildlife of this area is considerably rich.
Important animals : Sloth bear, leopard, hyena, jackal, blue bull, wild boar, four-horned antelopes, barking deer, porcupine, python, crocodiles, etc.
Purna Wild Life Sanctuary
Located in the predominantly tribal district of Dangs, Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, which was declared as a sanctuary in July 1990, has the thickest forest cover in the state of Gujarat. The forests have lofty teak trees rising tall and straight in the company of other associated flora viz. sadad, timru, bamboos, khair, kalam, haldu, sisham (rosewood), salai, kadaya, killai, sevan, tanachh etc. The healthy stock of lofty bamboos specially attracts your attention.
The sanctuary area of 160.8 sq. km. is spread over an undulating terrain with rolling hills, plateaus, and small valleys of what are the western and northern limits of the Western Ghats. The area is drained by the beautiful river Purna, which lends name to the sanctuary. The area has other rivers and rivulets also. Unlike most of Gujarat, the area is characterised by moderate, sometimes even heavy, rainfalls with the average annual rainfall of 2500 mm. The area falls in the highest rainfall zone of the state. The forest, therefore, belongs to the category of tropical moist deciduous forests. The landscape is lush green, thick forests, interspersed with rivers, small tribal villages and scattered fields. The human population is totally tribal represented by Bhils, Warlis, Konkanas, Dubdas, and Kolchas etc. The forests support a rich tribal culture in the form of houses, dresses, jewelry, agriculture, fishing, musical instruments, folk dances etc. When the sun sets, one may listen to the distant sounds of folk dances, tribal songs and their improvised musical instruments Pavry and drums.
‘Mahal’, the main village in the sanctuary is centrally located on the banks of river Purna. There is a very old forest rest house on the banks of this river. The place is the most preferred site for Nature Education Camps.
About 700 identified plants species with dominance of grass and plants with broad leaves in high density and diversity are found in the sanctuary. Major/important tree species are: teak, khair, sadad, dudhalo, kalam, bamboo, haldu, karanj, tanach, chopadi bondara etc.
Important animals- Leopard, rhesus macaque, bonnet macaque, common mongoose, Indian civat cat, Indian porcupine, four-horned antelope, barking deer, sambar, chital, hyena, jungle cat, flying squirrel, python, lizards etc.
Important birds : Common grey hornbill, grey jungle fowls, barbets, woodpeckers, shrikes, cloropsis, bee-eaters, flycatchers and many raptors.
Kutch Bustard Sanctuary
Tiny Kachchh Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary was declared as a sanctuary in July 1992. Endangered species like lesser florican, chinkara and wolf inhabit this area. This bustard has the rare distinction of being the heaviest flying bird.
Important animals- Wolf, caracal, desert cat, jackal, hyena, fox, mongoose, bluebull, chinkara, spiny tailed lizard, royal snake etc.
Important birds : Great Indian Bustards, lesser floricans, houbara bustards, harriers, common cranes, black partridges, sand grouses etc.
Things to remember while visiting Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gujarat:
1. The best time to visit the wildlife sanctuaries is from October to March.
2. The best time to watch wildlife is in the early morning or evening.
3. Binoculars, Measuring tape, notebook, etc. are the various things that you can carry on your visit.
4. Avoid heavy footwear and clothes that hinder easy movement. Ideally wear colours that match with the surroundings.
5. Maintain silence while you are in the sanctuary.
6. Do not run when you see the bigger animals. Usually an animal sight us before we see it and moves away.
7. Do not smoke or wear perfumes on your visit.
8. Do not go very close to carnivores.
9. Be alert at all times.
10. Do not litter the sanctuaries and surroundings.
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