Articles - Asiatic Lions: Endangered Royal Predators of Gujarat

Asiatic Lions: Endangered Royal Predators of Gujarat

Posted by: | Posted on: 18/12/13 | Comments: 0

Asiatic Lion is popularly called as Indian Lions among the wildlife tourists. The beast of the jungle is a subspecies of Lion and is currently listed as an endangered animal by IUCN. In India, Asiatic Lions are spotted mostly in Gir Forest National Park in Gujarat.

 

                                                        Asiatic Lion, Photo courtesy - wikipedia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Species: P. Leo

Where to See:  Gir Forest National Park

 

Physical description:

 

The fur is generally in ruddy-tawny color which is heavily speckled with black colored- spots. Sometimes the color of the fur is also buffish-grey or sandy with silvery shine. Male species have moderate growth of mane on the neck and their ears can be seen easily. On throat and cheeks, there is very small amount of mane growth. On the belly, there is a striking longitudinal covering of skin.

 

Size:

 

The male species have large skull of 330 - 340 mm size in length while the female species have comparatively smaller skull measuring 292 to 302 mm. The weight of the male species varies from 350 to 420 pounds and for female species, the weight ranges from 240 to 365 pounds. On the records, the largest Asiatic lion was measured to be 9½ feet from his nose’s end point to the tip point of his tail.

 

Geographic distribution (Habitat):

 

The suitable habitat for them consists of tropical grasslands, deserts or tropical dry forests. Earlier, these species used to live in forests between Mediterranean and North-Eastern sections of Indian subcontinent. But, now the only surviving habitat of Asiatic Lions is the Gir Forest National Park in Indian State of Gujarat.

 

Status:

 

At the present moment, Asiatic Lions have been included in endangered wildlife species by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 

Natural Diet:

 

Asiatic lions are carnivorous animals and their natural diet comprises of cattle, Sambhar, Chital, deer, Goats, Buffaloes, wild pigs, Nilgai and antelope that reside in the forest.

 

Reproduction:

 

At the age of two-four years, female species reach their sexual maturity. During reproduction, which generally occurs during early winter season, between the months of October and November, the female generally give birth to two-four cubs and the gestation period is generally of 100 to 119 days. On an average, the lioness reproduces after every two years.

 

Life Span:

 

The younger species have higher mortality rate and the cub species may die within 2 years after its birth. An adult species may live up to 17 years in the forests and the up to 24 years if bred in captivity.

 

Behavior:

 

Asiatic Lions generally live in small prides which mostly consists of two females. The reason for smaller prides is to ensure that food is not required to be shared with a larger group. Male species generally live in isolation and join their pride only for mating or when they have a larger hunt to go on. The communication between the lion species is done mostly at nights or at early morning through roaring sounds. Lions spend most of their days lazing around or sleeping. The lions remain inactive for approximately 20 hours each day. Hunting is a group active, but male species only participate when there is a larger hunt. In regions where there is shortage of vegetation, the lions attack the prey at nights and in regions where there are dense forests, the lions attack during the day.

 

Asia Lions Population in India - Then and Now:

 

The Asiatic Lions earlier could be found in Northern India. But by the end of the 20th century, the population of lion species dwindled and the only remaining habitat for the animals was Gir National Park in Gujarat. By 1968, only 177 lion species were counted. Numerous animal protection schemes were implemented and the population of tiger increased to 359 by the year 2005. According to 2010 census, the population of Asiatic Lions at Gir National Park has reached up to 411 in number which comprises a party of 77 cubs, 75 sub-adults, 162 adult females and 97 adult males.

 

Neighboring Species:

 

Leopards and Cheetahs generally form good neighboring partners with Lions. But if their paths are crossed on a hunt, it is very likely that none of these species would give away the right to their prey easily.

 

Fact:

 

The Asiatic Lion has been declared the most endangered large cat species in the world.

 

Conservation:

 

The major threats to Asiatic Lion are poaching and hunting activities. Another threat to these species is due to some unpredictable epidemic that could wipe out the entire race. Recent news also covered deaths of Asiatic Lions due to drowning in the lake.

 

Another threat to Asiatic Lion is of diseases caused due to heavy inbreeding between the few remaining species. To ensure the sustenance of these precious wildlife species, it is important to manage the breeding activity between lions and ensure the lion species are not closely related to each other.

 

It is also required to establish another one of protected sanctuary for these species which would lead to maximum genetic diversity possible. There will be requirement for the nearby animal communities to resettle so that the rooms for lion can be made. Also extreme caution must be implanted to satisfy the needs of the lion so that they do not become hostile or feel a sense of being uprooted from their homes.

 

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Karan Saxena

Karan Saxena is a literature student, with keen interest in writing about India and the world. His write-ups give an intricate,... more»