Along with colorful festivals, rich heritage, and delicious cuisine, wildlife in Gujarat is something is a must-experience while travelling here. Would you believe it if we said you can see thousands of Blackbucks at one place in a grassland landscape, much like Africa, and the world’s largest communal roosting site of harriers? The roosting site can be understood as a resting site at night.
Gujarat is indeed a wonder when it comes to the varied landscape and wildlife it houses.
There was a time these private grassland were used by the Maharaja of Bhavnagar for hunting blackbucks with his famous hunting cheetahs. The Blackbuck is an antelope found in the Indian subcontinent. They inhabit grasslands and scrubs and are present in large herds in the Blackbuck National Park in Velavadar which is just 25 km from Tree of Life Darbargadh, a luxury hotel in Gujarat.
The park was established in 1976 to help save endangered Wildlife in the Bhal region of Saurashtra and is spread across the coasts of the Gulf of Khambhat an area of 34.08 sq km, which was previously “Vidi” (grassland) of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar for hunting the blackbucks. On the northern side, it is surrounded by wetlands and agricultural fields. This national park has been classified as a 4B Gujarat-Rajwada biotic province of the semi-arid bio-geographical zone.
Picture Credits: Rohit Varma
Blackbucks can be seen pronking about which can be understood as a special behavior exhibited to escape from the clutches of predators. They just dash off and suddenly leap mid-air with all four limbs in the air. The moniker horns and black upper bodies separate male blackbucks from the females or calves as the females have fawn-colored bodies.
While staying at Tree of Life, our luxury hotel in Gujarat, a day trip to the Blackbuck National Park is a great way to understand a very important aspect of Gujarat wildlife. The Blackbuck National Park is divided into the Grassland Area which is 17.5 square km and the Wetland Area over 10 square km. Both areas are separated by a road. Sometimes these areas are perceived as wasteland and are threatened. As the awareness grows among locals this fragile ecosystem is now being protected.
Although Blackbuck National Park is famous for blackbucks, other wild species are also present such as Striped Hyena, Nilgai, Wolves, Macqueen’s bustards, Foxes, Jackals, and Jungle Cats. Wild pigs, hares, and rodents that are typical of the grasslands are also found in the national park.
Recently Velavadar has been classified as an Important Birding region by Birdlife International. The park is a haven for bird watchers, especially birds of prey. Steppe Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Imperial Eagle Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Western Marsh Harrier, and Short-eared Eagle Owl are some of the avian species present in the Blackbuck National Park.
The Lesser Florican, which is a critically endangered species locally known as the Kharmor is an endemic Indian species of the Bustard Family and can only be sighted in this park. Tree of Life Darbargadh, our luxury hotel in Gujarat is the perfect stay while planning a birdwatching tour to Velavadar.
Another rather interesting point to note is that one can actually drive one’s own vehicle into the park in the outlined mud road along with a forest department guide or can hire a vehicle after authorization from concerned authorities. The park allows Safaris in two slots – Sunrise to noon and again 2 pm to 6 pm depending upon the season.
Gujarat’s diverse topography and climatic conditions help some incredible wild animals like the Asiatic Lions of the Gir national park sustain. Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gujarat are plentiful, every one of which is worth visiting. Even in the Blackbuck National Park semi-arid conditions, along with inundation of seawater during monsoon, creates habitats suitable for various dependent fauna of the park.
Other important National Parks that have preserved wildlife in Gujarat are Gir National Park, Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Gir National Park with 400 species of plants covering this massive area of 1,412 km² is the only home for the Asiatic lions.
Velavadar national park also has unique vegetation and flora in its landscape given its arid climate. Gujarat is indeed a very diverse land. We welcome you to explore Gujarat with us at Tree of Life Darbargadh, a luxury hotel in Gujarat.