Latest News

Enigmatic India

This blog captures the life experiences of the Enigmatic India team in the beautiful and enigmatic country of India.We capture our experiences through our writings, photos and products that depict the very essence and fabric of India.Through this platform, we invite you to join us in our journey as we explore.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Trip to Gir National Park, Gujarat : Majestic Asiatic Lions

Two Lions(the "Brothers" perhaps")
Gujarat has been beckoning us since a long time and the urge to see the Asiatic Lion was very high. However for many years, our love to watch the Royal Bengal Tiger took precedence and we spent multiple visits to the Tiger Sanctuaries.  Peak summer (mid may) is when we decided to visit Sasan Gir and while we were apprehensive of the heat wave sweeping Gujarat then, we were resolute to make this happen. Landed in Ahmedabad and after a day trip of sight seeing in Ahmedabad we moved on to Somnath Temple and finally landed up in Club Mahindra Sasan Gir.

Needless to state we have made the safari bookings online through Http:// With these online bookings being enabled in most wildlife sanctuaries life is much easier to plan. Spoke to couple of local guys and got the vehicle organised through them as the ones being provided through Club Mahindra was too expensive.

As always the first trip is always the one full of anxiety. So early morning we got ready and went to Singh Sadan at the entry of the park gate where the permits are given, jeeps allocated and guides assigned(not much different from other parks). Well what was different was what our guide Prashant(name changed) shared with us. After he boarded the gypsy with us he went about explaining the park, lay of the land, routes(which are named 1,2,3,4 etc), mammals, birds. Our trip began and we were quite excited to be here finally. 

Almost 90 minutes went by and the jungle was by and large very quite with the only sighting of a few spotted deer and resident birds. Then we suddenly saw a man in bike riding very fast and he took off the road and into the side tracks. Our gypsy driver started racing along with him. Puzzled, we  didn't know what was happening and asked the guide. Then the un-reveal happened - he said there are "Trackers" in the forest(appointed by the govt.) and if you pay them they will lead to the lion or lion pride. Really was our question? The guide went on to add that for more money the tracker and forest officials would even steer the lion towards your vehicle. Well we didn't believe these and true to ourselves we went about exploring the jungle further and returned home without sighting any lion. Some tourists from the resort returned with smiling faces and yes they had spotted a lion in the same route we were. Having spent enough time in jungles in the last ten years we were happy to leave things to the nature to unfold itself.

Crocodiles at Kamleshwar Lake
Our afternoon safari began and now we had a new driver and guide. Both were quite enthusiastic and understood that we would be interested in seeing birds too. Took us to the Kamleshwar lake where we did see crocodiles in the lake bed, lot of Asian paradise flycatcher, Martins and swallows, other resident birds. 

As the journey continued, we spotted a village and not surprising as most national parks have some settlements still within them and these belonged to the "Maldharis" who are nomadic herders  moving around with their livestock. Some distance from this place we saw a large population of Buffaloes and a man in traditional Maldari dress bathing them. What a sight...the Buffaloes were enjoying the cool water and the man while bathing them was giving them a body scrub too. Our guide gestured me to follow him and said this is a good place for birding as there was water and it attracted a lot of birds - well why not we sighted Flycatchers, Shikra, Tickel's blue flycatcher, Babblers and Oriental White-eye. 
Maldhari and livestock ---cool bath
As we continued our journey we did hear the roar of a lion in some distance and our guide and driver started locating the source and we halted at one spot, with one more gypsy there. Lo and behold we saw the majestic lion walking towards us from the undergrowth. Well the excitement was palpable and our cameras went on click click click. However we noticed something was wrong as the lion kept looking towards the undergrowth. What unfold was shocking - a guy in khakhi uniform with a long stick was gesturing and making sounds at the lion. Our guide explained it was one of the trackers and the lions have got used to this. Quite disappointing!!!

We continued and within the next ten minutes we saw a few vehicles parked some distance ahead. Our jeep driver accelerated and said "saheb juroor dono bhai milgaye hain" and why not two majestic males were siting below a tree and the view was majestic. Well you can guess the two were surrounded by six trackers...Our respect for the wildlife park started diminishing quickly and our guide noticed it. He said if the govt didn't resort to this then the tourist flow would decline. After some more birding we returned to Club Mahindra. 

Still there was some expectation to see a pride of lions and next day last trip turned out lucky. A few minutes into our safari we encountered the most visible pride of 10 lioness and cubs walking beside our track. A few gypsies(vehicles) were there and we watched them to our hearts content.Well this is the pride that is sighted the most and those who follow environment/cricket news might have seen the controversy around Indian cricketer Ravindra Jadeja and his wife Riva posing with this pride of lions.Well at that moment we enjoyed the experience of watching the pride walk along, rest, oblivious to the human presence. An experience that  we had been waiting for since many years and it got fulfilled.

The Lion Pride
Overall a very mixed experience with the positives being the sighting of the Asiatic Lion whereas the practice of trackers used by the government was a disappointment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive