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Velavadar Blackbuck National Park


Outside the tiny village of Velavadar, 65km north of Bhavnagar, the 34-square-kilometre Blackbuck National Park has the highest concentration of this Indian antelope anywhere in the country. Prior to Independence their number stood at eight thousand, but habitat loss and hunting cut this figure down to two hundred by 1966; they now number around three thousand four hundred. The park is also home to the endangered Indian wolf, nilgai antelopes, jackal foxes, jungle cats and Indian foxes. Birdwatchers can spot rare species like the Stoicka’s bushchat and harrier hawks. Poor rainfall in recent years has forced many of the latter to roost elsewhere, however, with numbers falling from 2515 in 2002 to 979 in 2009. There are no jeeps available for hire on site, but a taxi costs around Rs1000 for a day-trip from Bhavnagar. If you arrive by bus (2 daily from Bhavnagar; 1hr), it is possible to walk to one of the watchtowers near the entrance and get a good view, but it’s not the same.

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