The Gujarat Government has recognized the value of its flora and fauna to its tourism industry. Under eco-tourism, tourists not only live in, but are also educated about the complexity and beauty of wildlife at the national parks and sanctuaries. If you are interested in eco-tourism, these destinations are worth your visit.
Jessore Wild Life Sanctuary, Balundra, District Banaskantha
The brownish-black sloth bear is an endangered species. In India, the Jessore Wild Life Sanctuary is its home, as it prefers proximity to fruit trees, and the presence of honey, ants, and termites. The 180 km sanctuary, established in 1978, is dedicated to the bear. Government bodies are working to maintain the dry land biodiversity of regions like Jessore (Northern Gujarat), despite the threats of a diminishing forest cover. Here, you’ll also spot leopard, blue bull, wild boar, porcupine, and hyenas. Rare birds that migrate here include grey jungle fowl, white-bellied minivet, Indian black ibis and the painted stork.
Madhupur Turtle Hatching Site, District Porbandar
Endangered turtles from international waters come to lay eggs at various spots across Gujarat’s coastline, and forest department officials collect these eggs to hatch them at Madhupur beach. These eggs are hatched at a Gujarat Forest Department hatchery, created to promote turtle conservation. Madhupur beach, on Saurashtra’s west coast, is therefore a significant and protected venue for endangered species like the Green Sea Turtle and the Olive-Ridley Turtle. The devout also like to visit the many Vaishnavite Temples located here. The hatchery’s location, on the Somnath-Verval-Madhupur-Porbandar-Dwarka route makes it a popular tourist site.
Mahal Eco-tourism Campsite, Dangs
Gujarat’s Dangs District has four eco-tourism camp sites: Mahal Forest Camp Site, Girli Lodges, Kilad Nature Education Centre and Devinamal Eco Campsite. These are managed by the North and South Forest Divisions of the Dangs Forest Department. Of these, the Mahal Eco Campsite is a popular one, famed for its proximity to rivers and walking and trekking routes. It is located on the scenic Purna River’s banks, in the heart of the Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat’s thickest bamboo forest, and home to many beautiful and exotic plants and animals. Of note is the forest rest house that can be seen jutting out over the Purna River. Along with all modern facilities at the campsite, there are bamboo machans to view wildlife from a distance, as well as guided night trails.
Thol Bird Sanctuary, Gandhinagar
Located across Gujarat’s Ahmedabad and Mehsana district, the Thol Wildlife Sanctuary is the region’s most popular birding destination. The sanctuary came about as an irrigation tank for farmers built in 1912 by the Sayajirao Gayakvad, the erstwhile Ruler of Baroda. Today, it serves as the basis for a wetland and open water habitat, home to 150 species of native and migratory birds like great white pelicans, flamingos, geese, sarus cranes and waders, many of which can be spotted between November to February. Animals spotted here include blue bull, striped hyena, golden jackal and black buck.