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The Asiatic lion is a ''
Panthera leo leo ''Panthera leo leo'' is a lion The lion (''Panthera leo'') is a large Felidae, cat of the genus ''Panthera'' native to Africa and India. It has a muscular, deep-chested body, short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of it ...

Panthera leo leo
''
population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size of the resident population within their jurisdiction by a process called a ...

population
surviving today only in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
. Since the turn of the 20th century, its range is restricted to
Gir National Park Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Sasan Gir, is a forest and wildlife sanctuary A nature reserve (also known as a natural reserve, wildlife refuge, wildlife sanctuary, biosphere reserve or bioreserve, natural or nature ...

Gir National Park
and the surrounding areas in the Indian state of
Gujarat Gujarat (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Gujarat
. Historically, it inhabited much of
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...

Western Asia
and the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
to northern India. The first
scientific description Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...
of the Asiatic lion was published in 1826 by the
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...

Austria
n zoologist Johann N. Meyer who named it ''Felis leo persicus''. On the
IUCN Red List The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data Book), founded in 1964, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global Conservation movement, conser ...
, it is listed under its former
scientific name In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only ...
''Panthera leo persica'' as
Endangered An endangered species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group ...
because of its small population size and
area of occupancy Area is the quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional Region (mathematics), region, shape, or planar lamina, in the Plane (geometry), plane. Surface area is its analog on the two-dimensional Surface (topology), surface of a solid ...
. Until the 19th century, it occurred in
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
, eastern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, and from east of the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
to
Bengal Bengal (; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, p ...

Bengal
and
Narmada River The Narmada River, also called the Reva and previously also known as ''Narbada'' or anglicised as ''Nerbudda'', is the 5th longest river and overall longest west-flowing river in India, and largest flowing river of the state of Madhya Pradesh ...

Narmada River
in
Central India Central India is a loosely defined region of India. There is no clear official definition and various ones may be used. One common definition consists of the states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State ...

Central India
. The population has steadily increased since 2010. In May 2015, the 14th Asiatic Lion Census was conducted over an area of about ; the lion population was estimated at 523 individuals, comprising 109 adult males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs. In August 2017, surveyors counted 650 wild lions. In June 2020, an estimation exercise counted 674 Asiatic lions in the Gir forest region, an increase of 29% over the 2015 census figure. The lion is one of five pantherine cats native to India, along with the
Bengal tiger The Bengal tiger is a tiger The tiger (''Panthera tigris'') is the largest extant taxon, living Felidae, cat species and a member of the genus ''Panthera''. It is most recognisable for its dark vertical stripes on orange fur with a ...

Bengal tiger
(''P. tigris tigris''),
Indian leopard The Indian leopard (''Panthera pardus fusca'') is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. The species ''Panthera pardus'' is listed as Vulnerable species, Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declin ...

Indian leopard
(''P. pardus fusca''),
snow leopard The snow leopard (''Panthera uncia''), also known as the ounce, is a felid Felidae () is a Family (biology), family of mammals in the Order (biology), order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats, and constitutes a clade. A member of t ...

snow leopard
(''P. uncia'') and
clouded leopard The clouded leopard (''Neofelis nebulosa'') is a wild cat inhabiting dense forests from the foothills of the Himalayas through mainland Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eas ...

clouded leopard
(''Neofelis nebulosa''). It was also known as the Indian lion and the Persian lion.


Taxonomy

''Felis leo persicus'' was the scientific name proposed by Johann N. Meyer in 1826 who described an Asiatic lion skin from
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
. In the 19th century, several zoologists described lion
zoological specimen A zoological specimen is an animal or part of an animal preserved for scientific use. Various uses are: to verify the identity of a (species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic ...
from other parts of Asia that used to be considered
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone ...
s of ''P. l. persica'': *''Felis leo bengalensis'' proposed by
Edward Turner BennettEdward Turner Bennett (6 January 1797 – 21 August 1836) was an English zoologist and writer. He was the elder brother of the botanist John Joseph Bennett.menagerie menagerie during the reign of Louis XIV , house = Bourbon , father = Louis XIII of France , mother = Anne of Austria , birth_date = , birth_place = Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fran ...

menagerie
of the
Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle A castle is a type of structure built during the predominantly by the or royalty and by . Scholars debate the sc ...

Tower of London
. Bennett's essay contains a drawing titled 'Bengal lion'. *''Felis leo goojratensis'' proposed by Walter Smee in 1833 was based on two skins of maneless lions from Gujarat that Smee exhibited in a meeting of the
Zoological Society of London The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is a charity devoted to the worldwide and their . It was founded in 1826. History On 29 November 1822, the birthday of , "the father of modern zoology", a meeting held in the in Soho Square led by R ...

Zoological Society of London
. *''Leo asiaticus'' proposed by
Sir William Jardine, 7th Baronet Sir William Jardine, 7th Baronet of Applegarth Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, FRSE Fellow of the Linnean Society, FLS Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, FSA (23 February 1800 – 21 Novemb ...
in 1834 was a lion from India. *''Felis leo indicus'' proposed by
Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (; 12 September 1777 – 1 May 1850) was a French zoologist and anatomist. Life Blainville was born at Arques-la-Bataille, Arques, near Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, Dieppe. As a young man he went to Paris to study ar ...

Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville
in 1843 was based on an Asiatic lion skull. In 2017, the Asiatic lion was subsumed to ''P. l. leo'' due to close morphological and molecular genetic similarities with
Barbary lion The Barbary lion is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Bi ...

Barbary lion
specimens. However, several scientists continue using ''P. l. persica'' for the Asiatic lion.


Evolution

Fossil A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, inc ...

Fossil
remains of ''
Panthera spelaea ''Panthera spelaea'', also known as the Eurasian cave lion, European cave lion or steppe lion, is an extinct '' Panthera'' species that evolved in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. General ...
'' excavated in the Cromer Stage indicate that it represented a genetically isolated and highly distinct lineage, not closely related to Asiatic lions. Fossil lion remains were found in
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
deposits in
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
. A fossil
carnassial Carnassials are paired upper and lower teeth modified in such a way as to allow enlarged and often self-sharpening edges to pass by each other in a shearing manner. This adaptation is found in the Order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * ...
excavated in the Cave indicates that the
Sri Lanka lion The Sri Lankan lion (''Panthera leo sinhaleyus''), also known as the Ceylonese lion, is an extinct prehistoric subspecies In Taxonomy (biology), biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a sp ...
(''P. l. sinhaleyus'') inhabited
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
during the
late Pleistocene The Late Pleistocene is an unofficial age in the international geologic timescale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological datingChronological dating, or simply dating, is the process of attributing to an object or event ...
, and is thought to have become extinct around 39,000 years ago.
Deraniyagala Deraniyagala is a town in the Kegalle Kegalle ( si, කෑගල්ල; ta, கேகாலை) is a large town in Sabaragamuwa Province The Sabaragamuwa Province ( si, සබරගමුව පළාත ''Sabaragamuwa Palata'', ta, ச ...
described this lion in 1939.


Phylogeography

Results of a
phylogeographic Phylogeography is the study of the historical processes that may be responsible for the past to present geographic distributions of genealogical lineages. This is accomplished by considering the geographic distribution of individuals in light of gen ...
analysis based on
mtDNA Illustration of the location of mitochondrial DNA in human cells Electron microscopy reveals mitochondrial DNA in discrete foci. Bars: 200 nm. (A) Cytoplasmic section after immunogold labelling with anti-DNA; gold particles marking mtDNA are ...

mtDNA
sequences of lions from across the global range, including now extinct populations like Barbary lions, indicates that
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
n lions are
phylogenetically In biology, phylogenetics (from Greek language, Greek wikt:φυλή, φυλή/wikt:φῦλον, φῦλον () "tribe, clan, race", and wikt:γενετικός, γενετικός () "origin, source, birth") is a part of systematics that addresse ...

phylogenetically
basal to all modern lions. These findings support an African origin of modern lion evolution with a probable centre in East and
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
. It is likely that lions migrated from there to West Africa, eastern
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
and via the periphery of the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
into Turkey,
southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth a ...

southern Europe
and northern India during the last 20,000 years. The
Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landma ...

Sahara
, Congolian rainforests and the
Great Rift Valley The Great Rift Valley is a series of contiguous geographic trenches, approximately in total length, that runs from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon Lebanon (), officially known as the Lebanese Republic,''Republic of Lebanon'' is the most co ...

Great Rift Valley
are natural barriers to lion
dispersal Dispersal may refer to: * Biological dispersal, the movement of organisms from their birth site to their breeding site, or from one breeding site to another ** Dispersal vector, forces that carry seeds for plants ** Oceanic dispersal, the movement ...
.
Genetic marker A genetic marker is a gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_inheritance#History, Mendelian units of heredity..." (Greek language, Greek) meaning ''generation'' or ''birth ...
s of 357 samples from captive and wild lions from Africa and India were examined. Results indicate four lineages of lion populations: one in Central and North Africa to Asia, one in
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
, one in Southern Africa, and one in Southern and
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
; the first wave of lion expansion probably occurred about 118,000 years ago from East Africa into
West Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hem ...
, and the second wave in the late Pleistocene or early
Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene E ...
periods from Southern Africa towards East Africa. The Asiatic lion is genetically closer to North and West African lions than to the group comprising East and Southern African lions. The two groups probably diverged about 186,000–128,000 years ago. It is thought that the Asiatic lion remained connected to North and Central African lions until
gene flow In population genetics Population genetics is a subfield of that deals with genetic differences within and between s, and is a part of . Studies in this branch of examine such phenomena as , , and . Population genetics was a vital ingredient ...

gene flow
was interrupted due to extinction of lions in Western Eurasia and the Middle East during the Holocene. Asiatic lions are less genetically diverse than African lions, which may be the result of a
founder effect In population genetics Population genetics is a subfield of that deals with genetic differences within and between s, and is a part of . Studies in this branch of examine such phenomena as , , and . Population genetics was a vital ingredie ...

founder effect
in the recent history of the remnant population in the Gir Forest.


Characteristics

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 lighting. Males have only moderate mane growth at the top of the head, so that their ears are always visible. The mane is scanty on the cheeks and throat, where it is only long. About half of Asiatic lions'
skull The skull is a bone A bone is a rigid tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a specific function * ''Triphosa haesitata'', a species of geometer moth found in North A ...

skull
s from the Gir forest have divided infraorbital foramina, whereas African lions have only one foramen on either side. The
sagittal crest A sagittal crest is a ridge of bone running lengthwise along the midline of the top of the skull The skull is a bone A bone is a rigid tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together ...
is more strongly developed, and the is shorter than in African lions. Skull length in adult males ranges from , and in females, from . It differs from the African lion by a larger tail tuft and less inflated auditory bullae. The most striking morphological character of the Asiatic lion is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly. Males have a shoulder height of up to , and females of . Two lions in Gir Forest measured from head to body with a long tail of and total lengths of . The Gir lion is similar in size to the Central African lion, and smaller than large African lions. Adult males weigh , while females weigh .


Manes

Colour and development of manes in male lions varies between regions, among populations and with age of lions. In general, the Asiatic lion differs from the African lion by a less developed mane. The manes of most lions in ancient Greece and Asia Minor were also less developed and did not extend to below the belly, sides or
ulna The ulna (''pl''. ulnae or ulnas) is a long bone The long bones are those that are longer than they are wide. They are one of five types of bone A bone is a rigid tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of si ...

ulna
s. Lions with such smaller manes were also known in the
Syrian region The historic region of Syria ( ar, الـشَّـام, ash-Shām, Hieroglyphic Luwian: ''Sura/i''; gr, Συρία; in modern literature called Greater Syria, Syria-Palestine, or the Levant) is an area located east of the Mediterranean sea. ...
,
Arabian peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
.


Exceptionally sized lions

The confirmed record total length of a male Asiatic lion is , including the tail.
Emperor Jahangir Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim ( Persian: ), known by his imperial name, Jahangir ( Persian: ) (31 August 1569 – 28 October 1627), was the fourth Mughal Emperor The Mughal emperors (or Moghul) built and ruled the Mughal Empire on the Indi ...
allegedly speared a lion in the 1620s that measured and weighed . In 1841, English traveller
Austen Henry Layard Sir Austen Henry Layard (; 5 March 18175 July 1894) was an English traveller, archaeologist, cuneiformist, art historian, draughtsman, collector, politician and diplomat. He is best known as the excavator of Nimrud Nimrud (; syr, ܢܢܡܪ ...

Austen Henry Layard
accompanied hunters in
Khuzestan Khuzestan Province (also spelled Xuzestan; fa, استان خوزستان ''Ostān-e Khūzestān'') is one of the 31 provinces of Iran A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from th ...

Khuzestan
, Iran, and sighted a lion which "had done much damage in the plain of Ram Hormuz," before one of his companions killed it. He described it as being "unusually large and of very dark brown colour", with some parts of its body being almost black. In 1935, a
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ir ...

British
admiral claimed to have sighted a maneless lion feeding on a
goat The domestic goat or simply goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of typically kept as . It was from the (''C. aegagrus'') of and . The goat is a member of the animal family and the subfamily , meaning it is closely related ...

goat
near
Quetta Quetta (; ps, کوټه‎; bal, ; ur, ; ), formerly known as Shalkot ( ps, ښالکوټ; bal, شال کوٹ), is the provincial capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology ...

Quetta
in Pakistan. 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."


Distribution and habitat

In Saurashtra's Gir Forest, an area of was declared as a sanctuary for Asiatic lion conservation in 1965. This sanctuary and the surrounding areas are the only
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...

habitat
s supporting the Asiatic lion. After 1965, a national park was established covering an area of where human activity is not allowed. 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 Girnar is an ancient hill in Junagadh Junagadh () is the headquarters of Junagadh district in the States and territories of India, Indian state of Gujarat. Located at the foot of the Girnar, Girnar hills, southwest of Ahmedabad and Gand ...

Girnar
that comprise Gujarat's largest tracts of
tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% ...
, thorny forest and savanna, and provide valuable habitat for a diverse flora and fauna. Five protected areas currently exist to protect the Asiatic lion: Gir Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary, and Girnar Sanctuary. The first three protected areas form the Gir Conservation Area, a large forest block that represents the core habitat of the lion population. 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 drier eastern part is vegetated with
acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of nam ...

acacia
thorn savanna and receives about annual rainfall; rainfall in the west is higher at about per year. The lion population recovered from the brink of
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

extinction
to 411 individuals by 2010. In that year, approximately 105 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 1995. By 2015, the total population had grown to an estimated 523 individuals, inhabiting an area of in the Saurashtra region. The Asiatic Lion Census conducted in 2017 revealed about 650 individuals. By 2020, at least six satellite populations had spread to eight districts in Gujarat and live in human-dominated areas outside the protected area network.


Former range

The Asiatic lion used to occur in
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...

Arabia
,
Palestine Palestine ( or ) most often refers to: * State of Palestine, a ''de jure'' sovereign state in the Middle East * Palestine (region), a geographical and historical region in the Middle East Palestine may also refer to: * Palestinian National Aut ...
, Mesopotamia and
Baluchistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...

Baluchistan
. In South Caucasia (present day
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
,
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia (, ; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is a part of the Caucasus region, bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north and east by ...
, and
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
), it was known since the
Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene E ...
, and became extinct in the 10th century. Until the middle of the 19th century, it survived in regions adjoining Mesopotamia and
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
, and was still sighted in the upper reaches of the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
River in the early 1870s. By the late 19th century, the Asiatic lion had become extinct in
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
. The last known lion in
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
was killed on the lower Tigris in 1918. Historical records in Iran indicate that it ranged from the
Khuzestan PlainThe Khuzestan Plain is the relatively flat region of Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered ...
to
Fars Province Fars Province (; fa, استان فارس, , ), also known as Pars (Sasanian province), Pars (, ) as well as Persis and Persia, is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran. With an area of 122,400 km², it is located in Iran's southwest, in R ...
at elevations below in
steppe In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include: * the montane grasslands and shrublands biome * the temperate grassland ...

steppe
vegetation and
pistachio The pistachio (, ''Pistacia vera''), a member of the cashew family, is a small tree originating from Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from A ...

pistachio
-
almond The almond (''Prunus dulcis'', syn. ''Prunus amygdalus'') is a species of tree native to Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, ...

almond
woodlands. It was widespread in the country, but in the 1870s, it was sighted only on the western slopes of the
Zagros Mountains The Zagros Mountains ( fa, کوه‌های زاگرس, ''Kuh hā-ye Zāgros;'' Luri language, Luri: کویل زاگروس‎, ''Koyal Zagros;'' Turkish language, Turkish: ''Zagros Dağları;'' ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyakani ...
, and in the forest regions south of
Shiraz Shiraz (; fa, شیراز, Šîrâz ) is the fifth-most-populous city of Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or So ...

Shiraz
. It served as the
national emblem The national emblem means "national crest / shield emblem or logo design", which represents the image and dignity of the country's political power and people. It is one of the symbols of a country's political power.The national emblem is an embl ...
and appeared on the country's flag. Some of the country's last lions were sighted in 1941 between Shiraz and
Jahrom Jahrom ( fa, جهرم, also known as Jahrūm) is a city and capital of Jahrom County, Fars Province, Iran. At the 2016 census, its population was 141,634. Jahrom is the largest city in south of Fars Province and the second one in whole province. ...
in Fars Province, and in 1942, a lion was spotted about northwest of
Dezful Dezful ( fa, دزفول, pronounced , Dezfuli dialect: Desfil, pronounced ) also Romanized as Dezfūl and Dezfool; also known as Dīzfūl and Ab I Diz is a city and capital of Dezful County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2011 census, its popul ...

Dezful
. In 1944, the corpse of a lioness was found on the banks of the
Karun The Karun ( fa, کارون, ) is Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregio ...

Karun
River in Iran's
Khuzestan Province Khuzestan Province (also spelled Xuzestan; fa, استان خوزستان ''Ostān-e Khūzestān'') is one of the 31 provinces of Iran A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from th ...
. In India, the Asiatic lion occurred in
Sind Sindh (; sd, سنڌ; ur, , ; historically romanized as Sind) is one of the four provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...
,
Bahawalpur Bahawalpur (), is a city located in the Punjab, Pakistan, Punjab province of Pakistan. Bahawalpur is the List of most populated metropolitan areas in Pakistan, 11th largest city in Pakistan by population as per 2017 census with a population of ...

Bahawalpur
,
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...

Punjab
, Gujarat,
Rajasthan Rajasthan (; ; lit. 'Land of Kings') is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspa ...

Rajasthan
,
Haryana Haryana (; ) is a in India located in the northern-part of the country. It was carved out of the former state of on 1 November 1966 on a basis. It is ranked 21st in terms of area, with less than 1.4% () of India's land area. The state capital ...

Haryana
,
Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by population and list of states and union territories of India by area ...

Bihar
and eastward as far as
Palamau Palamau is one of the twenty-four districts of Jharkhand state, India. It was formed in 1892. The administrative headquarter of the district is Medininagar, situated on the South Koel River, Koel River. History The Palamu district have site of Ne ...
and
Rewa, Madhya Pradesh Rewa is a city in north-eastern part of Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh (, ; meaning ''Central Province'') is a state in central India. Its capital city, capital is Bhopal, and the largest city is Indore, with Jabalpur, Ujjain, Gwalior, Satn ...
in the early 19th century. It once ranged to
Bengal Bengal (; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, p ...

Bengal
in the east and up to
Narmada River The Narmada River, also called the Reva and previously also known as ''Narbada'' or anglicised as ''Nerbudda'', is the 5th longest river and overall longest west-flowing river in India, and largest flowing river of the state of Madhya Pradesh ...

Narmada River
in the south. Because of the lion's restricted distribution in India,
Reginald Innes Pocock Reginald Innes Pocock Fellow of the Royal Society, F.R.S. (4 March 1863 – 9 August 1947) was a United Kingdom, British zoologist. Pocock was born in Clifton, Bristol, the fourth son of Rev. Nicholas Pocock (historian), Nicholas Pocock and Ed ...
assumed that it arrived from Europe, southwestern Asia through Balochistan only recently, before humans started limiting its dispersal in the country. The advent and increasing availability of firearms led to its local
extirpation Local extinction, also known as extirpation, is the condition of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A specie ...
over large areas. Heavy hunting by and Indian rulers caused a steady and marked decline of lion numbers in the country. Lions were exterminated in Palamau by 1814, in
Baroda Vadodara, also known as Baroda, is the third-largest city in the States and union territories of India, Indian state of Gujarat. It serves as the administrative headquarters of the Vadodara district and is situated on the banks of the Vishwam ...

Baroda
, Hariana and
Ahmedabad district Ahmedabad District comprises the city of Ahmedabad, in the central part of the state of Gujarat in western India. It is the seventh most populous district in India (out of Districts of India, 739). History Ahmedabad district was a part of Bombay ...
in the 1830s, in
Kot Diji The ancient site at Kot Diji ( sd, ڪوٽ ڏیجي; ur, کوٹ ڈیجی) was the forerunner of the Indus Valley Civilization, Indus Civilization. The occupation of this site is attested already at 3300 BCE. The remains consist of two parts; the ...

Kot Diji
and
Damoh Damoh is a city in the Indian Indian or Indians refers to people or things related to India, or to the indigenous people of the Americas, or Aboriginal Australians until the 19th century. People South Asia * Indian people, people of I ...
in the 1840s. During the
Indian Rebellion of 1857 The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a major, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising in India in 1857–58 against the rule of the British East India Company, which functioned as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown. The rebellion ...

Indian Rebellion of 1857
, a
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ir ...
officer shot 300 lions. The last lions of
Gwalior Gwalior () is a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh lies at upper Madhya Pradesh and one of the National Capital Region (India)#Counter magnets, Counter-magnet cities. Located south of Delhi, the capital city of India, fr ...
and Rewah were shot in the 1860s. One lion was killed near
Allahabad Allahabad (), List of renamed Indian cities and states, officially known as Prayagraj, also known as Ilahabad, is a metropolis in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.The other five cities were: Agra, Kanpur, Kanpur (Cawnpore), Lucknow, Meerut ...

Allahabad
in 1866. The last lion of
Mount Abu Mount Abu () is a hill station A hill station is a town located at a higher elevation than the nearby plain or valley. The term was used mostly in Western imperialism in Asia, colonial Asia (particularly in India), but also in Africa (albeit ...

Mount Abu
in
Rajasthan Rajasthan (; ; lit. 'Land of Kings') is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspa ...

Rajasthan
was spotted in 1872. By the late 1870s, lions were extinct in Rajasthan. By 1880, no lion survived in Guna,
Deesa Deesa is a city and a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it ...
and
Palanpur Palanpur is a city and a municipality of Banaskantha district in the Indian States and territories of India, state of Gujarat. Palanpur is the administrative headquarters of Banaskantha district. Palanpur is the ancestral home to an industry o ...
districts, and only about a dozen lions were left in
Junagadh district Junagadh district is a district of the India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and d ...

Junagadh district
. 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 Nawab of Junagarh or Junagadh refers to the now defunct ex-lineage of rulers of the princely Junagarh State Junagarh or Junagadh was a princely state in Gujarat ruled by the Muslim Babi dynasty in British India, until its annexation by the Go ...
in his private hunting grounds.


Ecology and behaviour

Male Asiatic lions are solitary, or associate with up to three males, forming a loose
pride Pride is emotion Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent with a proposition. Several of th ...

pride
. Pairs of males rest, hunt and feed together, and display 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 In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanis ...

mating
, but rarely live and feed together. Results of a
radio telemetry 300px, A saltwater crocodile with a GPS-based satellite transmitter attached to its head for tracking Telemetry is the in situ ''In situ'' (; often not italicized in English) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belongin ...
study indicate that annual home ranges of male lions vary from in dry and wet seasons. Home ranges of females are smaller, varying between . During hot and dry seasons, they favour densely vegetated and shady riverine habitats, where prey species also congregate. Coalitions of males defend home ranges containing one or more female prides. Together, they hold a territory for a longer time than single lions. Males in coalitions of three to four individuals exhibit a pronounced hierarchy with one male dominating the others. The lions in Gir National Park are active at twilight and by
night Night (also described as night time, night-time, or nighttime, unconventionally spelled as ''nite'') is the period of :wikt:ambient, ambient darkness from sunset to sunrise during each 24-hour day, when the Sun is below the horizon. The exact ...
, showing a high temporal overlap with sambar (''Rusa unicolor''),
wild boar The wild boar (''Sus scrofa''), also known as the wild swine, common wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and ...

wild boar
(''Sus scrofa'') and
nilgai The nilgai (''Boselaphus tragocamelus'') (, literally meaning "blue cow") is the largest Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the cont ...

nilgai
(''Boselaphus tragocamelus'').


Feeding ecology

In general, lions prefer large prey species within a weight range of , irrespective of their availability. Domestic cattle have historically been a major component of the Asiatic lions' diet in the Gir Forest. Inside Gir Forest National Park, lions predominantly kill
chital The chital (''Axis axis''; ), also known as spotted deer, chital deer, and axis deer, is a deer Deer or true deer are ed s forming the Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the , including the , the (wapiti), the , and the ; and t ...

chital
(''Axis axis''), sambar deer, nilgai,
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large domestication, domesticated Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae ...

cattle
(''Bos taurus''), domestic
water buffalo The water buffalo (''Bubalus bubalis''), also called the domestic water buffalo or Asian water buffalo, is a large bovid The Bovidae comprise the biological family Family ( la, familia, plural ') is one of the eight major hierarchical tax ...

water buffalo
(''Bubalus bubalis''), and less frequently wild boar. They most commonly kill chital, which weighs only around . They prey on sambar deer when the latter descend from the hills during summer. Outside the protected area where wild prey species do not occur, lions prey on water buffalo and cattle, and rarely on
dromedary The dromedary (''Camelus dromedarius'') ( or ), also known as Arabian camel, is a large even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their ...

dromedary
(''Camelus dromedarius''). They generally kill most prey less than away from water bodies, charge prey from close range and drag carcasses into dense cover. They regularly visit specific sites within the protected area to scavenge on dead livestock dumped by
MaldhariMaldharis are a adivasi, tribal herder, herdsmen community in Gujarat, India. Originally nomads, they came to be known as Maldharis after settling in Junagadh district (mainly Gir Forest). "Maldhari" is an occupational term which refers to people fr ...
livestock herders. During dry, hot months, they also prey on
mugger crocodile The mugger crocodile (''Crocodylus palustris'') is a medium-sized broad-snout A snout is the protruding portion of an animal's face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw. In many animals, the structure is called a muzzle, Rostrum (anatomy), ...

mugger crocodile
s (''Crocodylus palustris'') on the banks of
Kamleshwar Dam The Kamleshwar Dam, officially known as the "Hiran-I Dam", is a rock-fill embankment dam An embankment dam is a large artificial dam. It is typically created by the placement and compaction Compaction may refer to: * Soil compaction In geo ...

Kamleshwar Dam
. In 1974, the Forest Department estimated the wild
ungulate Ungulates ( ) are members of the diverse clade A clade (), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organisms that are monophyly, monophyletic – that is, composed of a common ancestor and all its lineage (evoluti ...
population at 9,650 individuals. In the following decades, the wild ungulate population has grown consistently to 31,490 in 1990 and 64,850 in 2010, including 52,490 chital, 4,440 wild boar, 4,000 sambar, 2,890 nilgai, 740
chinkara The chinkara (''Gazella bennettii''), also known as the Indian gazelle, is a gazelle A gazelle is any of many antelope species in the genus ''Gazella''. This article also deals with the seven species included in two further genera, ''Eudorc ...

chinkara
(''Gazella bennetti''), and 290
four-horned antelope The four-horned antelope (''Tetracerus quadricornis''), or ''chousingha'', is a small antelope The term antelope is used to refer to many species of even-toed ruminant Ruminants are herbivorous mammals of the suborder Ruminantia that are able ...
(''Tetracerus quadricornis''). 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 24,250 domestic livestock in the 1970s declined to 12,500 by the mid-1980s, but increased to 23,440 animals in 2010. Following changes in both predator and prey communities, Asiatic lions shifted their predation patterns. Today, very few livestock kills occur within the sanctuary, and instead most occur in peripheral villages. Depredation records indicate that in and around the Gir Forest, lions killed on average 2,023 livestock annually between 2005 and 2009, and an additional 696 individuals in satellite areas. Dominant males consume about 47% more from kills than their coalition partners. Aggression between partners increases when coalitions are large, but kills are small.


Reproduction

Asiatic lions mate foremost between October and November. Mating lasts three to six days. During these days, they usually do not hunt, but only drink water.
Gestation Gestation is the period of development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell, when a project is stuck in development *Filmmaking#Development, Filmmaking, development phase, including finance and budgeting *Development ...
lasts about 110 days. Litters comprise one to four cubs. The average interval between births is 24 months, unless cubs die due to
infanticide Infanticide (or infant homicide) is the intentional killing of infant 222x222px, Eight-month-old sororal twin sisters An infant (from the Latin word ''infans'', meaning 'unable to speak' or 'speechless') is the more formal or speciali ...

infanticide
by adult males or because of diseases and injuries. 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. Dominant males mate more frequently than their coalition partners. During a study carried out between December 2012 and December 2016, three females were observed switching mating partners in favour of the dominant male. Monitoring of more than 70 mating events showed that females mated with males of several rivaling prides that shared their home ranges, and that these males were tolerant toward the same cubs. Only new males that entered the female territories killed unfamiliar cubs. Young females mated foremost with males within their home ranges. Older females selected males at the periphery of their home ranges.


Threats

The Asiatic lion currently exists as a single subpopulation, and is thus vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, such as an
epidemic An epidemic (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...
or large forest fire. There are indications of poaching incidents in recent years, as well as reports that organized poacher gangs have switched attention from local Bengal tigers to the Gujarat lions. There have also been a number of drowning incidents, after lions fell into wells. 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 resettlement of Maldharis since the 1970s. Nearly 25 lions in the vicinity of Gir Forest were found dead in October 2018. Four of them had died because of
canine distemper virus Canine may refer to: Zoology * dog-like mammals (i.e. members of the canid Canidae (; from Latin, ''canis'', "dog") is a biological family of dog-like carnivora Carnivora is an order of placental mammals that have specialized in primaril ...
, the same virus that had also killed several lions in the
Serengeti The Serengeti ( ) ecosystem is a geographical region in Africa, spanning northern Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa o ...

Serengeti
.


Conflicts with humans

Since the mid 1990s, the Asiatic lion population has increased to an extent that by 2015, about a third resided outside the protected area. Hence, conflict between local residents and wildlife also increased. Local people protect their crops from nilgai, wild boar, and other
herbivore A herbivore is an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All ...
s by using electrical fences that are powered with high voltage. Some consider the presence of predators a benefit, as they keep the herbivore population in check. But some also fear the lions, and killed several in retaliation for attacks on livestock. In July 2012, a lion dragged a man from the veranda of his house and killed him about from Gir Forest National Park. This was the second attack by a lion in this area, six months after a 25-year-old man was attacked and killed in Dhodadar.


Conservation

''Panthera leo persica'' was included on
CITES Appendix I CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. It was drafted as a result of a resolution a ...
, and is fully protected in India.


Reintroduction


India

In the 1950s, 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 Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a field of research, healthcare, and social activism that explores the health of an individual's reproductive system and sexual wellbeing during all stages of their life. The term can also be further de ...
and to prevent it from being affected by an outbreak of an
epidemic An epidemic (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...
. In 1956, the Indian Board for Wildlife accepted a proposal by the Government of
Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; , 'Northern Province') is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

Uttar Pradesh
to establish a new sanctuary for the envisaged reintroduction, Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary, covering in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where climate, terrain and vegetation is similar to the conditions in the Gir Forest. In 1957, one male and two female wild-caught Asiatic lions were set free in the sanctuary. This population comprised 11 animals in 1965, which all disappeared thereafter. The
Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project in the State of Gujarat, India is the last natural habitat of more than 523 wild Asiatic lions, though plans are afoot to re-introduce some to Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the neighboring State of Madhya Pradesh in n India to ensure their longt ...
to find an alternative habitat for reintroducing Asiatic lions was pursued in the early 1990s. Biologists from the
Wildlife Institute of India The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India, was established in 1982. WII carries out wildli ...
assessed several potential translocation sites for their suitability regarding existing prey population and habitat conditions. The Palpur-
Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary Kuno National Park is a protected area in Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh (, ; meaning ''Central Province'') is a state in central India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the L ...
in northern Madhya Pradesh was ranked as the most promising location, followed by Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary and Darrah National Park. Until 2000, 1,100 families from 16 villages had been resettled from the Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, and another 500 families from eight villages were expected to be resettled. With this resettlement scheme the protected area was expanded by . 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 The Supreme Court of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic lang ...

Indian Supreme Court
. In April 2013, 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 court had given wildlife authorities six months to complete the transfer. 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.


Iran

In 1977, 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. However, this did not stop Iran from seeking to bring back the lion. In February 2019, Tehran Zoological Garden obtained a male Asiatic lion from Bristol Zoo in the United Kingdom, followed in June by a female from Dublin Zoo. They are supposed to reproduce.


In captivity

Until the late 1990s, 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. Once discovered, this led to the complete shutdown of the European and American endangered species breeding programs for Asiatic lions, as its founder animals were captive-bred Asiatic lions originally imported from India and were ascertained to be intraspecific hybrids of African and Asian lions. In North American zoos, several Indian-African lion crosses were inadvertently bred, and researchers noted that "the fecundity, reproductive success, and spermatozoal development improved dramatically." DNA profiling, DNA fingerprinting studies of Asiatic lions have helped in identifying individuals with high genetic variability, which can be used for conservation breeding programs. In 2006, the Central Zoo Authority of India stopped breeding Indian-African cross lions stating that "hybrid lions have no conservation value and it is not worth to spend resources on them". Now only pure native Asiatic lions are bred in India. In 1972 the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden, Sakkarbaug Zoo sold a pair of young pure-stock lions to the Fauna and Flora International, Fauna Preservation Society; which decided they would be accommodated at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey Wildlife Trust where it was hoped to begin a captive breeding programme. The Asiatic lion International Breed registry, Studbook was initiated in 1977, followed in 1983 by the North American Species Survival Plan (SSP). The North American population of captive Asiatic lions was composed of descendants of five founder lions, three of which were pure Asian and two were African or African-Asian hybrid (biology), hybrids. The lions kept in the framework of the SSP consisted of animals with high inbreeding coefficients. In the early 1990s, three European zoos imported pure Asiatic lions from India: London Zoo obtained two pairs; the Zürich Zoologischer Garten one pair; and the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki one male and two females. In 1994, the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for Asiatic lions was initiated. The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) published the first European Studbook in 1999. By 2005, there were 80 Asiatic lions kept in the EEP — the only captive population outside of India. As of 2009, more than 100 Asiatic lions were kept within the EEP. The SSP had not resumed; pure-bred Asiatic lions are needed to form a new founder population for breeding in American zoos.


In culture


South and East Asia

Neolithic cave paintings of lions were found in Bhimbetka rock shelters in central India, which are at least 30,000 years old. * The Sanskrit word for 'lion' is 'सिंह' (siṃha), which also signifies the ''Leo'' of the Zodiac. The ''Mahabharata'' ( sa, महाभारत) contains literature on the lion, such as a comparison to the tiger. * Since ancient times, lion statues adorned palaces and temples and other important buildings in India, and in Buddhist culture, the lion was depicted as the protector of Dharma. In Hinduism lions are associated with Gods and Goddesses. ''Narasimha'' (''Narasingh'' or ''Narasinga'' – man-lion) is described as an incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu within the Puranic texts of Hinduism and is worshiped as "Lion God". Thus, Asiatic lions are considered sacred by all Hindus in India. A lion-faced ''dakini'' also appears in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. The Hindu deity is known as ''Narasimha'' and the Tibetan Buddhist form is known as ''Siṃhamukhā'' in Sanskrit and ''Senge Dongma'' (Wyl. ''seng ge gdong ma'') in Tibetan. The lion is found on numerous flags and coat of arms, coats of arms all across Asia and Europe, and also appears on the Emblem of India and on the flag of Sri Lanka. ''Singhāsana'', meaning ''seat of a lion'', is the traditional Sanskrit name for the throne of a Hindu kingdom in India and Sinhala Kingdom, Sinhalese kingdom in
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
since antiquity. * The surnames Singh, Singha and Sinha are related to the Prakrit word ''siṁgha'' and Sanskrit word ''siṃhḥ'' which refer to lions, tigers and leopards. These are common Hindu and Sikh surnames dating back over 2000 years to History of India, ancient India. They originally were only used by Rajputs, a Hindu ''kshatriya'' or military caste in India since the seventh century. After the birth of the Khalsa brotherhood in 1699, the Sikhs adopted the name "Singh" at the direction of Guru Gobind Singh. As this name was associated with higher classes and royalty, this action was to combat the prevalent caste system and discrimination by last name. Along with millions of Hindu Rajputs today, it is also used by up to 10 million Sikhs worldwide. The Sinhalese people are the majority ethnic group of
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
. The name 'Sinhala' translates to "lion's blood" or "lion people" and refers to the myths regarding the descent of the legendary founder of the Sinhalese people 2500 years ago, Prince Vijaya, who is said to have migrated from ''Singhapur'' (Sinhapura, Simhapura or Singur). The words "singha" or "singham" meaning "courageous lion" are used as an ending of many surnames, such as "Weerasingha" used by the Sinhala people, and "Veerasingham" used by the Tamil people. The name ''Sinhala'' comes from the belief that Vijaya's paternal grandfather was a lion. An alternative theory places ''Singhapur'' in modern Sihor, which happens to be close to the Gir Sanctuary. * The lion is the symbol of Mahavira, the 24th and last Tirthankara in Jainism. * In the Burmese zodiac#Weekdays, Burmese and Sinhalese animal and planetary zodiac, the lion is the third animal zodiac of the Myanmar, Burmese and the sixth animal zodiac of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka. * The lion is the basis of the lion dances that form part of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, and of similar customs in other Asian countries. Chinese guardian lions and their East Asia, Eastern, Chinthe, Southeastern and Southern Asian counterparts depicted in Chinese art were modeled on the basis of lions found in Indian temples. Bhikkhu, Buddhist monks, or possibly traders, possibly brought descriptions of sculpted lions guarding the entry to temples in China. Chinese sculptors then used the description to model "Fo-Lions" (''Fo'' () is a Traditional Chinese character, character for the Buddha) temple statues after native dogs (possibly the Tibetan Mastiff) by adding a shaggy mane. Depictions of these "Fo-lions" have been found in Chinese religious art as early as 208 BC. The Tibetan Snow Lion (Standard Tibetan, Tibetan: གངས་སེང་གེ་; Wylie transliteration, Wylie: ''gangs seng ge'') is a mythical animal of Tibet. It symbolizes fearlessness, unconditional cheerfulness, the eastern quadrant and the element of Earth. It is said to range over mountains, and is commonly pictured as being white with a turquoise mane. Two Snow Lions appear on the flag of Tibet. Many East Asian languages borrowed from the Sanskrit word for lion. * Cambodia has a native martial art called ''Bokator, labokatao'' ( km, ល្បុក្កតោ, Pounding a lion). * The island nation of Singapore (''Singapura'') derives its name from the Malay language, Malay words (lion) and (city), which in turn is from the Sanskrit () and (). According to the Malay Annals, this name was given by the 13th-century Sumatran Malay prince Sang Nila Utama, who alighted the island after a thunderstorm and spotted an auspicious beast on shore that his chief minister identified as a lion. The lion never occurred in Singapore, therefore, the animal seen by Sang Nila Utama was likely a tiger. File:Mahavir.jpg, 24th ''Tirthankara'' in Jainism, Mahavira with his lion symbol (Prateek) KumaraguptaFightingLion.jpg, Gupta emperor Kumaragupta I fighting a lion Lion-MG 21162-IMG 8567-white.jpg, Afghanistan, Afghani relief depicting a lion Silver Coin of Jalaluddin.jpg, Bengal Sultanate Silver taka with a lion symbol, 15th century Deshaavathaaram4 narasimham.jpg, Narasimha, lion-headed fourth avatar of Vishnu Durga Mahishasura-mardini, the slayer of the buffalo demon.jpg, Hindu goddess Durga with lion as her vahana, divine mount Hoysala emblem.JPG, Emblem of the Hoysala Empire in Medieval India, depicting Sala fighting a lion Singha.jpg, Chinthe 'Singha' at Hua Viang Temple, Maehongson, Thailand Jiaoshi.JPG, Relief of a Guardian lion, lioness and cubs from the Yuan Dynasty, inside Beijing city fortifications, Peking's city walls in China قالی و ترمه ایرانی- موزه فرش 03.jpg, Lion motif on a carpet


West Asia and Europe

Lions are depicted on vases dating to about 2600 before present that were excavated near Lake Urmia in Iran. The lion was an important symbol in Ancient Iraq and is depicted in a stone relief at Nineveh in the Mesopotamian Plain. * The lion makes repeated appearances in the Bible, most notably as having fought Samson in the Book of Judges. * Having occurred in the Arab world, particularly the Arabian Peninsula, the Asiatic lion has significance in Arab culture, Arab and Animals in Islam#Views regarding particular animals, Islamic culture. For example, Al-Muddathir#The ḥumur and qaswarah, Surat al-Muddaththir of the Quran criticizes people who were averse to the Prophets and messengers in Islam, Islamic Prophet Muhammad's teachings, such as that the rich have an obligation to donate wealth to the poor, comparing their attitude to itself, with the response of prey to a ''qaswarah'' ( ar, قَسْوَرَة, meaning "lion", "beast of prey", or "hunter"). Other Arabic words for 'lion' include ''asad'' ( ar, أَسَد) and ''sabaʿ'' ( ar, سَبَع), and they can be used as names of places, or titles of people. An Arabic toponym for the Levantine City of Beersheba ( ar, بِئر ٱلسَّبَع) can mean "Spring of the Lion." Hamzah ibn Abdul-Muttalib who were Sahabah, loyal Banu Hashim, kinsmen of Muhammad, were given titles like ''Asad Allah'' ( ar, أَسَد ٱلله, lit=Lion of God). * The Lion of Babylon (statue), lion of Babylon is a statue at the Ishtar Gate in Babylon The lion has an important association with the figure Gilgamesh, as demonstrated in Epic of Gilgamesh, his epic. The Iraqi national football team is nicknamed "Lions of Mesopotamia." * The symbol of the lion is closely tied to the Persian people. Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid kings were known to carry the symbol of the lion on their thrones and garments. The name 'Shir' (also pronounced 'Sher') ( fa, ) is a part of the names of many places in Iran and Central Asia, like those of city of
Shiraz Shiraz (; fa, شیراز, Šîrâz ) is the fifth-most-populous city of Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or So ...

Shiraz
and the Sherabad River, and had been adopted into other languages, like Hindi. The ''Shir-va-Khorshid'' ( fa, , "Lion and Sun") is one of the most prominent symbols of Iran, dating back to the Safavid dynasty, and having been used on the flag of Iran, until 1979. In Persian literature, Persian and in Indian literature, the lion is rivaled by the tiger. This is demonstrated in the book ''Anvar-i-Suhayli'' ( fa, , "Lights of the Canopus"). * The lion was an objective of Lion hunting, hunting in the Caucasus, by both locals and foreigners. The locals were called 'Shirvanshakhs'. * The Nemean lion of pre-literate Greek myth is associated with the Labours of Herakles. * A Bronze Age statue of a lion from either southern Italy or southern Spain from around 1000–1200 years Before Christ, the "Mari-Cha Lion", was exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.


See also

* Lion populations: Cape lion Lions in Europe American lion * Wildlife of Iran * Wildlife of India * in-situ conservation, ''In situ'' conservation * Ex-situ conservation, ''Ex situ'' conservation * ''Panthera leo fossilis'' * ''
Panthera spelaea ''Panthera spelaea'', also known as the Eurasian cave lion, European cave lion or steppe lion, is an extinct '' Panthera'' species that evolved in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. General ...
'' * ''Damnatio ad bestias''


References


Further reading

* * * * *


External links


IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group: Asiatic lionThe Telegraph, August 2018: Pride of India
*
Asiatic Lion Protection Society (ALPS), Gujarat, India





Asiatic lions in online video
(3 videos)
Asiatic Lions Images
* by Rajesh Badal (2011)
DB Video Special Report on Asiatic lion in Gujarati: What Is the connection Between Gir lions and Africans lions

Skin of a Persian lioness, belonging to an endangered subspecies of lions
brought to Dublin by King Edward VII in 1902 (during the reign of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, Shah Mozaffar ad-Din in
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
, and kept in the Natural History Museum (Ireland)).
Lion of Basrah

A lion in Iraq

Stuffed animals
including Pakistan's last wild lion at Bahawalpur Zoo

of Muhammad's descendant Musa al-Kadhim encountering a lion outside Medina in the Hijaz Mountains, mountainous region of the Hejaz
Description of the Arabian lion and art

4 انواع الأسود في العالم الأسد العربي الجزء
(in Arabic)
الاسد العربي المنقرض عند العرب lion Arabian Extinct
(in Arabic)
Asiatic lioness on a tree
{{DEFAULTSORT:lion, Asiatic Articles containing video clips Felids of Asia Felids of India Fauna of Gujarat Lions Mammals described in 1826 Symbols of Gujarat