Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests
The Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests are a tropical dry broadleaf forest ecoregion of western India which is home to the last remaining populations of the Asiatic lion in Gir Forest National Park in Gujarat.
The Kathiawar-Gir forests have a disjunct distribution. The main part of the ecoregion comprises the Aravalli Range, the high point of which is the 1,721 m Mount Abu, and the eastern half of Rajasthan state, extending into eastern Gujarat and the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. A small enclave of the ecoregion covers the peak of Girnar on the Kathiawar peninsula of western Gujarat.
The drier Northwestern thorn scrub forests ecoregion lies to the west, covering the remainder of the Kathiawar Peninsula and the strip of western Rajasthan between the Aravalli Range and the Thar Desert. To the northwest the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests transition to the Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests. To the southeast lies the Narmada Valley dry deciduous forests of the Vindhya Range and the Narmada River valley. The ecoregion also borders on the North Western Ghats moist deciduous forests in southeastern Gujarat.
The ecoregion has a tropical monsoon climate, with most of its 550 to 700 mm average annual rainfall during the June–September southwest monsoon and little for the remaining months of the year, while temperatures often exceed 40 °C. Higher elevations of the Aravallis stay cooler, and the windward slopes (generally southeast-facing) receive higher rainfall. This results in a dry landscape of thorny scrub, bare trees and rocks.
The composition of the ecoregion's forests varies with moisture and soils. They have a three-storied structure, with the top story reaching from 15 to 25 meters. Wetter areas are dominated by teak (Tectona grandis) alongside bael (Aegle marmelos), Boswellia serrata, Desmodium oojeinense, Diospyros spp., Bombax ceiba, Sterculia urens, Phyllanthus emblica, Dalbergia paniculata, and Terminalia elliptica. Anogeissus pendula, growing in almost pure stands or in association with Acacia catechu, is predominant in drier areas, especially on the quartzite ridges and gneiss hillocks of the Aravalli Range. Mount Abu is covered in dry deciduous forest with conifers at the highest elevations. Thorn scrub forests, characterized by Euphorbia caducifolia, Maytenus emarginata, Acacia senegal, Commiphora mukul, Wrightia tinctoria, Flueggea leucopyrus, Grewia tenax, and Grewia villosa, occur on rocky Aravalli hillsides and in degraded areas. The endemic species Dicliptera abuensis, Strobilanthes halbergii, and Veronica anagallis occur in these thorny areas. Finally the rivers and streams of the hills are lined with date palms (Phoenix sylvestris) and fig trees (Ficus racemosa).
The protected areas of this dry region are home to 80 species of mammal of which predators include the endemic Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) along with Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca), Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) and striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena). The plentiful prey that sustains these carnivores includes chousingha (Tetracerus quadricornis), blackbuck, (Antilope cervicapra), and chinkara (Gazella bennettii), all of which are globally threatened species, and other grazing animals. Bird species include the endangered great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), and lesser florican (Eupodotis indica), and the near-endemic white-naped tit (Parus nuchalis) which inhabits the thorny scrub areas of the ecoregion.
The population of the area is growing and habitats have mostly been removed or degraded for firewood, timber and grazing land. As well as the Gir Forest National Park lion reserve other protected areas in the ecoregion include Ranthambore National Park and Sariska Tiger Reserve, which are important Project Tiger sanctuaries and more wildlife sanctuaries the largest of which are Balaram Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary and Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary while others include Jaisamand, Kumbhalgarh, and Mount Abu.
- "Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
- "Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.