But what about lions in India? When it comes to big cats, India may be best known for its majestic tigers, but the subcontinent is also home to the elusive Asiatic Lion. In , the Gir Forest National Park was founded, and the nature preserve has helped ensure that these incredible animals survive on into the future. They may just come away with some wonderful memories — and the photos to prove it. The only place in India where lions can be seen in their national habitat, Gir Forest is a sprawling 1, square kilometre tract of land, where forests and scrubland give way to rivers and grasslands.
The Tribune Newspaper, Chandigarh, India. Hyderabad: Universities Press. Therefore, it was suspected that the Mesopotamian lion may have been a distinct subspecies, for which the scientific name Panthera Near east asian lion mesopotamica was proposed. Gir Forest and the saga of the Asiatic lion. This is the latest accepted revisionreviewed on 15 October Dehra Dun: Wildlife Institute of India. It had the nasty habit of preying Near east asian lion the local population, but was eventually dispatched by Hercules in the first of his twelve labours. Both of these lions became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, around 11, years ago.
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Touchais, G. Near east asian lion 9 August Hunting was one way in which control Sluts that like to get fucked Near east asian lion natural world was demonstrated Quaternary International. In Borobudur Buddhist monument Central JavaIndonesia andesite stone statues of lions guarding four main entrances of Borobudur. Today they are a reserve where these at-risk big cats are heavily protected. In Dunstone, N. Central and North Asia, B. Males have only moderate mane growth at the top of the head, so that their ears are always visible. Asiatic Lion. Metaphors for kingship often relied upon the animal world. South Arabian relief from the 5th century BC depicting a lion hunting an ungulateexhibited in the Walters Art Museum. The Asiatic lion, a subspecies that split from African lions aroundyears ago, once prowled across Asia and the Middle East. Some scholars also include Cyprus and Transcaucasia Georgia, Armenia Near east asian lion, Azerbaijan in their definition of the Near East, though these should probably be considered "eastern Subbmissive slut and "the Caucasus" respectively.
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- The Asiatic lion is a Panthera leo leo population in India.
- Cultural depictions of lions are known in European , African and Asian countries.
Map created by Tommyknocker via Wikimedia. Around a hundred years ago there were likely as many as , lions living wild in Africa. Recent surveys put the number of wild lions at around 30, or even as low as 20, Around a third of African lions are thought have disappeared in the past 20 years.
Much of this shrinking distribution has been due to hunting and loss of habitat. Lions Panthera leo are the second largest living cat, after the tiger. Lions, particularly male lions, have been an important symbol for thousands of years and appear as a theme in cultures across Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are commonly employed as an emblem in heraldry, and have been widely featured in sculpture and statuary to provide a sense of majesty and awe, especially on public buildings.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN , retaliatory or pre-emptive attacks against lions are the worst threats the species faces. Poaching also poses a major threat since lion bone is used for medicinal purposes in countries such as Laos, Vietnam and China.
Many people view it as a senseless and fundamentally immoral activity that should be stopped, while others such as IUCN and the U. Fish and Wildlife Service, are willing to tolerate it, but only if the revenues generated are used to support conservation efforts. In recent years conservation efforts have also resulted in an 11 percent growth in lion populations in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Eurasian cave lion Panthera leo spelaea , evolved around , years ago and ranged widely across Europe and Asia.
It is depicted in Paleolithic cave paintings, such as those found in the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in France. It was somewhat larger than the modern lion. The American lion Panthera leo atrox evolved around , ago and ranged throughout much of the Americas from Yukon to Peru. Both of these lions became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, around 11, years ago. Paleontologists are divided on whether to classify these pre-historic lions as sub-species of modern lions or as separate species.
Modern lions are thought to have originated around , years ago in eastern and southern Africa. There is some inconclusive historical evidence to suggest that they may also have inhabited other parts of Europe, including modern-day Portugal, Spain, southern France, southern Germany, Italy, and the Balkans. Although lions have long since disappeared from Europe, according to reports by Ancient Greek writers such as Herodotus and Aristotle, they were common in Greece around BCE.
Lions feature heavily in Ancient Greek mythology and writings. It had the nasty habit of preying on the local population, but was eventually dispatched by Hercules in the first of his twelve labours. Lions survived in parts of Mesopotamia and Syria until the middle of the 19th century. By the late 19th century, they had been eradicated in Turkey.
They survived much longer in Persia, where the last pride of five was hunted as recently as However, he did not put a stop to trophy hunting and at one point the lion population was reduced to around 20 animals and faced imminent extinction. His son, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, who succeeded him as Nawab, helped to forestall this by preserving vast tracts of the forest in order to provide the lions with a stable habitat.
This led to the establishment of the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in , which includes a number of areas where the lions are fully protected. The lions have now spread beyond the boundaries of the park where they seem to have reached a modus vivendi with local farmers many of whom are willing to tolerate the occasional loss of livestock in exchange for lions helping to curb the activities of crop-eating ungulates.
Eight sub-species of modern lions have been identified. They vary somewhat in size, shape and colour. The Barbary Lion Panthera leo leo , also known as the Atlas Lion or the North African Lion: Once found across North Africa, the last recorded killing of a wild Barbary lion was in Morocco in , although small groups may have survived into the s.
Some may remain in captivity, but it is not clear if these are true Barbaries. The sub-species may be extinct. The West African Lion Panthera leo senegalensis , also known as the Senegal lion : This is found in isolated areas in west and central Africa and is considered to be critically endangered. Recent estimates put the number of lions in West Africa at between and , mainly in Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger, while the number in central Africa may be around This subspecies is relatively common and well protected in areas such as the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda may be a potential stronghold for these lions, if poaching is curbed and prey species recover. As noted, conservation efforts have resulted in some growth in the numbers of these lions in recent years. It is thought that they may continue to exist in the wild in the east and north-east of the country, although this has yet to be determined.
Although the general boundaries are accurate, I would imagine that, in reality, between those borders there would be a lot of big splotches and quite a bit of white, as the current range is presented. Just a thought I always have. The decline of the lion and all wild creatures is tragic. Surely large wildlife would have been concentrated around water and rivers. There are vast areas in Africa with no water. Since so few people in the West know the extent of the crisis, your education is invaluable.
How I wish that major news media would break their silence on the Sixth Extinction! At any rate, I will be sharing your information in an extended interview in the local newspaper next week. Now, on to maps for Elephants and Rhinos! Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Think This Map Was Brilliant? Enter Your E-mail Address:. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.
These findings support an African origin of modern lion evolution with a probable centre in East and Southern Africa. Lions were never native animals of Southeast Asia in recorded history. Late Pleistocene Panthera spelaea bone fragments were radiocarbon dated to between the Weichselian glaciation and the Holocene , and are between , and 14, years old. The Book of the Lion. Visit our Shop. They spend 9 months perfecting their hunting skills, become independent aged one and reach maturity at 3 to 4 years. Birds and Beasts of Greek Anthology.
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Historical literature , such as the Iliad of ancient Greece , features lion similes. Bone fragments of fossil spelaea lions indicate that they were bigger than the modern lion and had less specialized lower teeth, reduced lower premolars and smaller incisors. As indicated by numerous artistic depictions, modern lions in the Balkans had less developed manes , and lacked abdominal and lateral manes as well as limb hair.
Red: excavated lion remains     Orange: locations mentioned by ancient Greek authors      . The oldest fossils excavated near Pakefield in the United Kingdom are estimated at , years old and represent Panthera fossilis. Late Pleistocene Panthera spelaea bone fragments were radiocarbon dated to between the Weichselian glaciation and the Holocene , and are between , and 14, years old.
In Eurasia, it became extinct between 14, and 14, years ago, and survived in Beringia until 13, to 13, years ago. The earliest subfossil lion remains to date were excavated in Basque Country and are about 9,—7, years old, dating to the Boreal period. A neolithic lion tooth fragment representing the Atlantic Period was found in Karanovo , Bulgaria , and is estimated 6, years old. In Southeast Europe , the lion inhabited part of the Balkan peninsula up to Hungary and Ukraine during the Neolithic period.
In Transcaucasia , the lion was present until the 10th century. Northwards, its range extended through the eastern Caucasus , from the Apsheron Peninsula to the mouth of the Samur River near the current Azerbaijan-Russia border , extending to the Araks river. From there, the boundary of its range narrowly turned east to Yerevan , with its northern boundary then extending westward to Turkey.
A Bronze Age statue of a lion from either southern Italy or southern Spain from c. Lions feature in ancient Greek mythology and writings, including the myth of the Nemean lion , which was believed to be a supernatural lion that occupied the sacred town of Nemea in the Peloponnese. Phalaecus, a tyrant of Amvrakia modern-day Arta , was allegedly killed by a female lion due to his holding a newborn lion cub, after finding it on a hunting expedition.
When Xerxes advanced near Echedorus in BC, the troops' camels were attacked by lions. He also referred to a story about Polydamas of Skotoussa, an Olympic winner in the 5th century BC, who allegedly used his bare hands to kill a lion on Thessalian part of Mount Olympus; and to one about Caranus of Macedon who according to the Macedonians, raised a trophy that was thrown down and destroyed by a lion that was rushing down from Mount Olympus.
The Romans used Barbary lions from North Africa for lion-baiting ,  and lions from Greece for gladiatorial games. Upper Paleolithic cave painting depicting lions, found in the Chauvet Cave , France . Statue of the lion of Michalitsi near modern Preveza in Greece. Heracles and the Nemean lion , c. Lion sculpture, 4th century BC , Koropi , Greece. Depiction of a hunting scene on a dagger found in Mycenae , Greece, 16th century BC.
Silver stater struck in Velia BC depicting Athena wearing a Phrygian helmet decorated with a centaur and lion devouring prey. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from European lion. Records of modern lion in southeastern Europe Red: excavated lion remains     Orange: locations mentioned by ancient Greek authors       Yellow: locations mentioned in Greek legends.
See also: Damnatio ad bestias and Gulf of Lion. Historical Biology. Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae.
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Dedun was not absorbed into the Ancient Egyptian religion and remained a Nubian deity. Bast , originally depicted as a lioness and the " eye of Ra " in the delta region,  was the parallel deity to Sekhmet in the southern region. Her nature gradually changed after the unification of the country and Sekhmet prevailed throughout. At that time Bast changed into the goddess of personal protection with different responsibilities, and often was depicted as a very tame lioness or a cat.
She is shown to the left atop an ala bast er jar that contained precious oils and lotions. The name of the stone probably bears her named because materials sacred to her usually were stored in it..
The sphinx of Ancient Egypt shows the head and shoulders of a human and the body of a lioness. The statues represents Sekhmet, who was the protector of the pharaohs.
Later pharaohs were depicted as sphinxes, being thought as the offspring of the deity. In ancient Mesopotamia , the lion was regarded as a symbol of kingship. Several reliefs feature lions, including the Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal. Other Assyrian palace reliefs from this era depict dozens of lions being hunted, originally in an Assyrian royal palace in Nineveh , located in modern-day Iraq.
The Babylonian goddess Ishtar was represented driving a chariot drawn by seven lions. Ancient depictions often described as "panthers" because of no mane, in fact, are lionesses and may be identified easily by the distinctive tip of their tails that artists familiar with their subject, correctly portrayed. Lions have been widely used in sculpture to provide a sense of majesty and awe, especially on public buildings.
Lions were bold creatures and many ancient cities would have an abundance of lion sculptures to show strength in numbers as well. Lion in the Iranian mythology is a symbol of courage and monarchy. He is portrayed standing beside the kings in artifacts and sitting on the graves of knights.
Imperial seals were also decorated with carved lions. The lion and sun motif is based largely on astronomical configurations, and the ancient zodiacal sign of the sun in the house of Leo. Lion and sun will become a symbol of royalty in Iranian flag and coins.
Goddesses Anahita sometimes have portrayed standing on a lion. Lion is also title of the fourth grade of Mithraism. Lions have been extensively used in ancient Persia as sculptures and on the walls of palaces, in fire temples, tombs, on dishes and jewellery; especially during the Achaemenid Empire. The gates were adorned with lions. Several discoveries of lion bones in Greece, the Ukraine and the Balkans have confirmed that lions lived there up to perhaps 1, BC, which was previously only a suspicion by some archaeologists.
Thus the strong emphasis on lions in the earliest figurative Greek art, especially that of Mycenaean Greece from around BC, reflected the world in which Greeks lived, rather than being based on stories from further east, as once thought. Lionesses often flanked the Gorgon, a vestige of the earliest Greek protective deity that often was featured atop temples of later eras.
The western pediment from the Artemis Temple of Corfu is a well preserved example. This lion is also said to be represented by the constellation of Leo , and also the sign of the Zodiac.
Lions are known in many cultures as the king of animals, which can be traced to the Babylonian Talmud ,  and to the classical book Physiologus. In his fables , the famed Greek story teller Aesop used the lion's symbolism of power and strength in The Lion and the Mouse and Lion's Share. Since classical antiquity , a Gaetulian lion in literature is a lion of fierce reputation.
Gaetulia, in ancient geography, was the land of the Gaetuli , a warlike tribe of ancient Libya that appears in Virgil's Aeneid 19 BC. In Socrates ' model of the psyche as described by Plato , the bestial, selfish nature of humanity is described metaphorically as a lion, the "leontomorphic principle".
Several Biblical accounts document the presence of lions, and cultural perception of them in ancient Israel. The best known Biblical account featuring lions comes from the Book of Daniel chapter 6 , where Daniel is thrown into a den of lions and miraculously survives. The prophet Amos said Amos, 3, 8 : "The lion hath roared, who will not fear? In 1 Peter , the Devil is compared to a roaring lion "seeking someone to devour. In Christian tradition, Mark the Evangelist , the author of the second gospel is symbolized by a lion — a figure of courage and monarchy.
It also represents Jesus' Resurrection because lions were believed to sleep with open eyes, a comparison with Christ in the tomb , and Christ as king. Legends say that he was fed to the lions and the animals refused to attack or eat him. Instead the lions slept at his feet, while he petted them. When the Romans saw this, they released him, spooked by the sight. The lion is the biblical emblem of the tribe of Judah and later the Kingdom of Judah.
He crouches, lies down like a lion, like the king of beasts—who dare rouse him? In the modern state of Israel , the lion remains the symbol of the capital city of Jerusalem , emblazoned on both the flag and coat of arms of the city.
In gnostic traditions, the Demiurge is depicted as a lion-faced figure "leontoeides". The gnostic concept of the Demiurge is usually that of a malevolent, petty creator of the physical realm, a false deity responsible for human misery and the gross matter than traps the spiritual essence of the soul, and thus an "animal-like" nature.
As a lion-headed figure, the Demiurge is associated with devouring flames,  destroying the souls of humans after they die, as well as with arrogance and callousness.
A lion-faced figurine is usually associated with the Mithraic mysteries. Without any known parallel in classical, Egyptian, or middle-eastern art,  what this figure is meant to represent currently is unknown. Winged sphinx with body of lioness from the palace of Darius the Great at Susa.
Samson and the lions, Saint Trophime Church Portal 12th century. A Hyrcanian Achaemenid golden cup depicting lions without manes and fully exposed ears in the sculpted heads used as handles, but manes suggested in engraving on the body. Dated first half of first millennium. Excavated at Kalardasht in Mazandaran , Iran. A peaceful lion in Pietro da Cortona 's depiction of the Golden Age. The "Strength" card of the Rider-Waite tarot deck.
Subsequently, the lion proves to be a loyal companion and a symbol of knightly virtue, and helps Yvain complete his altruistic ventures.
In the happy end, the lion comes to dwell with Yvain and his wife Laudine at their castle. Lion door handle at Burg Hohenzollern. In Middle Eastern culture, both Arab and Persian, the lion is regarded as the symbol of courage, bravery, royalty, and chivalry.
The Middle Eastern depiction of lions are derived from earlier Mesopotamian Babylonian and Persian arts. Islamic art commonly manifests its aesthetic elements predominantly in Islamic calligraphy , floral, and geometric decorative patterns, since Islamic religious tradition discourages the depictions of humans and living creatures animals in its sculpture. Through Persian arts miniatures and paintings, however, the depictions of humans and animals survives.
In Muslim Spain period, the lion court of Alhambra palace displays the lion statues as supporters and waterspout of fountain. The lion symbolism and its cultural depictions can be found in Hindu and Buddhist art of India and Southeast Asia. The lion symbolism in India was based upon Asiatic lions that once spread in Indian subcontinent as far as the Middle East. Narasimha "man-lion" , also spelt Narasingh , Narasinga , is described as an incarnation Avatara of Vishnu in the Puranic texts of Hinduism.
It is worshiped as "Lion God" and considered sacred by all Hindus in India. Lions are also found in Buddhist symbolism. Lion pillars erected during the reign of Emperor Ashoka show lions and the chakra emblem. It was originally only used by Rajputs , a Hindu Kshatriya or military caste in India. After the birth of the Khalsa brotherhood in , the Sikhs also adopted the name "Singh" due to the wishes of Guru Gobind Singh.
The lion also features as the carrier or the vehicle of Durga , the Hindu goddess of war, worshipped in and around the Bengal region. The lion is symbolic for the Sinhalese , Sri Lanka 's ethnic majority; the term derived from the Indo-Aryan Sinhala , meaning the "lion people" or "people with lion blood", while a sword-wielding lion is the central figure on the modern national flag of Sri Lanka.
Lions were never native animals of Southeast Asia in recorded history. As the result, the depiction of lion in ancient Southeast Asian art, especially in ancient Java and Cambodia , is far from naturalistic style as depicted in Greek or Persian art counterparts, since the artist who carved the lion sculpture never saw the lion before, and all were based on perception and imagination.
The cultural depictions and the reverence of lion as the noble and powerful beast in Southeast Asia was influenced by Indian culture. Statue of a pair of lions often founds in temples in Southeast Asia as the gate guardian.
In Borobudur Buddhist monument Central Java , Indonesia andesite stone statues of lions guarding four main entrances of Borobudur. The thrones of Buddha and Boddhisattva found in Kalasan and Mendut buddhist temples of ancient Java depicted elephant, lion, and makara.
The statue of a winged lion also is found in Penataran temple East Java , as well as in Balinese temples. The Balinese winged lion often served as the guardian statue or as the pedestal of wooden column. In Cambodia statues of lions flanking the temple gate or access roads are commonly found in temples of Angkor. The royal emblem of Cambodia depicting a pair of guardian animals; gajasingha hybrid of elephant and lion and singha lion.
In Thailand , a pair of lion statues are often placed in front of temple gate as guardian. The style of Thai lion is similar to those of Cambodian, since Thailand derived many of its aesthetics and arts elements from Cambodian Khmer art. In Myanmar , the statue of lion called Chinthe guarding the stupas, pagodas, and Buddhist temples in Bagan , while pair of lions are also featured in the country's coat-of-arms.
In the modern era, the lion or Merlion became the icon of Singapore due to the island's name. The Merlion also figures heavily in the official symbols of the Philippines as it was once an overseas possession of Spain; it appears on the coat-of-arms of Manila , as well as the emblems of the President , Vice-President , and its navy.
The common motif of the "majestic and powerful" lion was introduced to China by Buddhist missionaries from India, somewhere in the first century AD. Chinese guardian lions are frequently used in sculpture in traditional Chinese architecture. Lions feature prominently in the Tibetan culture with a pair of Snow Lions seen on the Tibetan flag. The Snow Lions are mythical creatures that are seen as protector entities. The Snow Lion symbolizes fearlessness, unconditional cheerfulness, east, and the Earth element.
It is one of the Four Dignities. It ranges over the mountains, and is commonly pictured as being white with a turquoise mane. Various kings and political leaders in different cultures and times, famed for courage or fierceness, were entitled "the lion" — such as:. Hieronymus and the Lion by Albrecht Altdorfer. Allegory with a Virgin by Hans Memling.
Hercules fight with the Nemeean lion by Pieter Paul Rubens. The lion is a common charge in heraldry , traditionally symbolizing courage. The lion holds historical significance for English heraldry and symbolism. The three lions was a symbol for Richard the Lionheart , and later, for England. The lion rampant continues to be used widely today; the Royal Banner of Scotland has given rise to its use as the emblem for the Scotland national football team and Rangers and Dundee United of the Scottish Premier League , as well as English Premier League club Aston Villa ; and not only sport but businesses such as the French car company Peugeot , the international beer company Lion Nathan , and Caledonian MacBrayne ferries.
Arising from heraldic use, the Red Lion is also a popular pub name, with over pubs bearing the name. Rampant lions are common charges in heraldry. For example, the arms of the Carter of Castle Martin family, Ireland see Carter-Campbell of Possil include a pair of rampant combatant lions.
In the Middle Ages, when lions became a major element in heraldry, few Europeans had any chance to see actual lions. The lions were for them nearly as much legendary animals as were dragons or gryffins, which also commonly appeared on coats of arms. Royal insignia of Cambodia with gajasingha and singha lions.
Asiatic lion facts | Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
The Asiatic lion is a Panthera leo leo population in India. On the IUCN Red List , it is listed under its former scientific name Panthera leo persica as Endangered because of its small population size and area of occupancy. The Asiatic lion was first described in by the Austrian zoologist Johann N. Meyer who named it Felis leo persicus. The lion is one of five pantherine cats inhabiting India, along with the Bengal tiger P. Felis leo persicus was the scientific name proposed by Johann N.
Meyer in who described an Asiatic lion skin from Persia. In , the Asiatic lion was subsumed to P. Deraniyagala described this lion in that was distinct from today's lion. These findings support an African origin of modern lion evolution with a probable centre in East and Southern Africa.
It is likely that lions migrated from there to West Africa, eastern North Africa and via the periphery of the Arabian Peninsula into Turkey, southern Europe and northern India during the last 20, years. The Sahara , tropical rainforest and the Great Rift Valley are natural barriers to lion dispersal. Genetic markers of samples from captive and wild lions from Africa and India were examined during a study on lion evolution. The first wave of lion expansion is thought to have occurred about , years ago from East Africa into West Asia , and the second wave in the late Pleistocene or early Holocene periods from Southern Africa towards East Africa.
The two groups probably diverged about ,—, years ago. It is thought that the Asiatic lion remained connected to North and Central African lions until gene flow was interrupted due to extinction of lions in Europe and the Middle East. Asiatic lions are genetically less diverse than lions in Africa, which may be the result of a founder effect in the recent history of the remnant population in the Gir Forest.
The Asiatic lion's fur ranges in colour from ruddy-tawny, heavily speckled with black, to sandy or buffish grey, sometimes with a silvery sheen in certain lights. Males have only moderate mane growth at the top of the head, so that their ears are always visible.
About half of Asiatic lions' skulls from the Gir forest have divided infraorbital foramina , whereas African lions have only one foramen on either side. It differs from the African lion by a larger tail tuft and less inflated auditory bullae.
Shoulder height of males is — centimetres 3. The Gir lion is similar in size to the Central African lion,  and smaller than large African lions. Colour and development of manes in male lions varies between regions, among populations and with age of lions.
Lions with such smaller manes were also known in the Syrian region , Arabian peninsula and Egypt , whereas Barbary and Cape lions had underbelly hair. Therefore, it was suspected that the Mesopotamian lion may have been a distinct subspecies, for which the scientific name Panthera leo mesopotamica was proposed.
The confirmed record total length of a male Indian lion is 2. Emperor Jahangir allegedly speared a lion in the s that measured 3. In , Austen Henry Layard accompanied hunters in Khuzestan , Iran, and sighted a lion which "had done much damage in the plain of Ram Hormuz ," before one of his companions killed it.
In , a British Admiral claimed to have sighted a maneless lion feeding on a goat near Quetta. He wrote "It was a large lion, very stocky, light tawny in colour, and I may say that no one of us three had the slightest doubt of what we had seen until, on our arrival at Quetta, many officers expressed doubts as to its identity, or to the possibility of there being a lion in the district.
In Saurashtra 's Gir Forest, an area of 1, This sanctuary and the surrounding areas are the only habitats supporting the Asiatic lion. In the surrounding sanctuary only Maldharis have the right to take their livestock for grazing. Lions inhabit remnant forest habitats in the two hill systems of Gir and Girnar that comprise Gujarat's largest tracts of tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests , thorny forest and savanna, and provide valuable habitat for a diverse flora and fauna.
The other two sanctuaries Mitiyala and Girnar protect satellite areas within dispersal distance of the Gir Conservation Area. An additional sanctuary is being established in the nearby Barda Wildlife Sanctuary to serve as an alternative home for lions.
The lion population recovered from the brink of extinction to individuals by In that year, approximately lions lived outside the Gir forest, representing a quarter of the entire lion population. Dispersing sub-adults established new territories outside their natal prides, and as a result the satellite lion population has been increasing since Until the middle of the 19th century, it survived in regions adjoining Mesopotamia and Syria , and was still sighted in the upper reaches of the Euphrates River in the early s.
Reginald Innes Pocock suggested that the restricted distribution of the Asiatic lion in India indicates that it was a comparatively recent immigrant and arrived in the country through Persia and Baluchistan, before humans limited its dispersal. The advent and increasing availability of firearms led to its extinction over large areas. Heavy hunting by British colonial officers and Indian rulers caused a steady and marked decline of lion numbers in the country.
During the Indian Rebellion of , a British officer shot lions. The last lions of Gwalior and Rewah were shot in the s. One lion was killed near Allahabad in By the turn of the century, the Gir Forest held the only Asiatic lion population in India, which was protected by the Nawab of Junagarh in his private hunting grounds. Male Asiatic lions are solitary or associate with up to three males forming a loose pride.
Pairs of males rest, hunt and feed together, and display marking behaviour at the same sites. Females associate with up to 12 females forming a stronger pride together with their cubs.
They share large carcasses among each other, but seldom with males. Female and male lions usually associate only for a few days when mating , but rarely live and feed together.
Males in coalitions of three to four individuals exhibit a pronounced hierarchy with one male dominating the others. Outside the protected area where wild prey species do not occur, lions prey on buffalo and cattle, rarely also on camel. In , the Forest Department estimated the wild ungulate population at 9, individuals. In the following decades, the wild ungulate population has grown consistently to 31, in and 64, in , including 52, chital, 4, wild boar, 4, sambar, 2, nilgai, chinkara , and four-horned antelope.
In contrast, populations of domestic buffalo and cattle declined following resettlement, largely due to direct removal of resident livestock from the Gir Conservation Area. The population of 24, domestic livestock in the s declined to 12, by the mids, but increased to 23, animals in Following changes in both predator and prey communities, Asiatic lions shifted their predation patterns. Depredation records indicate that in and around the Gir Forest, lions killed on average 2, livestock annually between and , and an additional individuals in satellite areas.
Aggression between partners increases when coalitions are large, but kills are small. Mating lasts three to six days. During these days, they usually do not hunt, but only drink water.
Gestation lasts about days. Litters comprise one to four cubs. Cubs become independent at the age of about two years. Subadult males leave their natal pride latest at the age of three years and become nomads until they establish their own territory.
During a study carried out between December and December , three females were observed switching mating partners in favour of the dominant male. Only new males that entered the female territories killed unfamiliar cubs. Older females selected males at the periphery of their home ranges. Carnivores that are sympatric with the Asiatic lion in the Gir Forest National Park and surrounding landscapes include Indian leopard , Striped hyena , Golden jackal , Jungle cat , Asiatic wildcat , Indian wolf , Sloth bear , Asiatic black bear , Bengal tiger , Dhole and Rusty-spotted cat.
Before the midth century, both the lion and tiger occurred in a few West and Central Asian countries, besides South Asia, though often in different times or habitats:   . The Asiatic lion currently exists as a single subpopulation, and is thus vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, such as an epidemic or large forest fire.
There are indications of poaching incidents in recent years. There are reports that organized gangs have switched attention from tigers to these lions.
There have also been a number of drowning incidents after lions fell into wells. Nearly 25 lions in the vicinity of Gir Forest were found dead in October Four of them had died because of canine distemper virus , the same virus that had killed several Serengeti lions earlier.
Prior to the resettlement of Maldharis , the Gir forest was heavily degraded and used by livestock, which competed with and restricted the population sizes of native ungulates. Various studies reveal tremendous habitat recovery and increases in wild ungulate populations following the Maldhari resettlement during the last four decades.
Since the mid s, the Asiatic lion population has increased to an extent that by about a third resided outside the protected area. Hence, conflict between local residents and wildlife also increased.
Some consider the presence of predators a benefit, as latter keep the herbivore population in check. But some people also fear the lions and killed several in retaliation for attacks on livestock. This was the second attack by a lion in this area, six months after a year-old man was attacked and killed in Dhodadar. In the s, biologists advised the Indian government to re-establish at least one wild population in the Asiatic lion's former range to ensure the population's reproductive health and to prevent it from being affected by an outbreak of an epidemic.
In , one male and two female wild-caught Asiatic lions were set free in the sanctuary. This population comprised 11 animals in , which all disappeared thereafter. The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project to find an alternative habitat for reintroducing Asiatic lions was pursued in the early s. Biologists from the Wildlife Institute of India assessed several potential translocation sites for their suitability regarding existing prey population and habitat conditions.
Gujarat state officials resisted the relocation, since it would make the Gir Sanctuary lose its status as the world's only home of the Asiatic lion. Gujarat raised a number of objections to the proposal, and thus the matter went before the Indian Supreme Court. In April , the Indian Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat state to send some of their Gir lions to Madhya Pradesh to establish a second population there.
The number of lions and which ones to be transported will be decided at a later date. As of now, the plan to shift lions to Kuno is in jeopardy, with Madhya Pradesh having apparently given up on acquiring lions from Gujarat. In , Iran attempted to restore its lion population by transporting Gir lions to Arzhan National Park , but the project met resistance from the local population, and thus it was not implemented. They are supposed to reproduce. Until the late s, captive Asiatic lions in Indian zoos were haphazardly interbred with African lions confiscated from circuses, leading to genetic pollution in the captive Asiatic lion stock.