The beautiful Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary covers only 34 square kilometres and is characterised by semi-arid grassland. Although this makes up the majority of the vegetation, there are smaller areas of shrub land, saline land and mudflats. This sanctuary, also known as the Black Buck National Park is situated along the Gulf of Khambhat in the Bhavnagar District of Gujarat, an official state in India. It is also flanked by two rivers, which play a major role in the health and fertility of the soil. It is the only tropical grassland in all of India to be named a National Park.

The Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary was established in 1976 and was once the grassland of Bhavnagar’s Maharaja, where his valuable cattle grazed and roamed the plains. At first, it only covered some 18 square kilometres. Then, in 1980, it was extended to its current area.

The flat, grassy meadows are the ideal habitats for the abundance of wildlife species that have made this their home. As its name implies, this park is especially committed to the preservation and protection of the Black Buck. However, it extends
Image of blackbuck gazelle
Male and female blackbuck gazelle (Antilope cervicapra)
these initiatives to include the Lesser Florican (also known as the Bustard) as well as the wolf and several other species. The Bustard is believed to be exclusively Indian and its population numbers have suffered major threats over the years. They once lived throughout the subcontinent, grazing on the grasses and rearing their young in the dry savannahs. Every area of India has suffered a major depletion in this species and Velavadar now has the largest group of these animals in the country.

Because of its proximity to the salty waters of the gulf, this area is often flooded during the monsoon season. The combination of semi-arid conditions and salty floods actually creates the perfect place for some species of plants and animals. In addition to the Black Buck, wolves and Lesser Floricans, Velavadar is also home to jackals, foxes, Sand Grouse, porcupines, Jungle Cats, eagles, Harriers, Houbara Bustards, wild pigs and hares.

The monsoon season ends in about mid-June of each year, and visitors are encouraged to see the park and its abundance of life between this time and the end of March, when winter begins. Between December and March, birds from miles around migrate to this sanctuary for the winter. Avian enthusiasts are advised to make a trip during this time to see the wonders of creation come alive.

The Bhavnagar Airport is the closest one to the park, and conducts daily flights to Mumbai and Ahmedabad, both of which have international airports. The park is equipped with accommodation, making it convenient for visitors from all over the world. There is also an interpretation centre where tourists can learn much about the plants, birds and wildlife of the Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary

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