Scientific Name: Panthera leo persica
The Asiatic lion is a big cat and lion subspecies that can only be found in Gujarat, a state in India. It is listed as ENDANGERED by the IUCN due to the size of its population. There are currently less than 500 Asiatic lions living in the wild. This big cat has a coat that is shaggier than the African lion, with a fold of skin along the belly and hair on the end of the tail and elbows.
Asiatic Lion Species Facts
The Asiatic Lion once roamed throughout Arabia, Asia Minor, Persia and India. The lion’s habitat included tropical dry forests, grasslands, thickets and deserts. Today the lion can only be found in Gujarat, India. The lion inhabits Gujarat’s Gir Forest and wild life sanctuary. It is one of five big cats that can be found in India.
The lion’s fur can range in color from a pale brown to a sandy or grey. A unique characteristic of the lion is the fold of skin that runs across its belly. Males have a medium-length mane and their ears are visible.
Asiatic lions once inhabited Persia (Iran), Palestine (a region between Syria, Egypt and Arabia), Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria and Turkey), Balochistan (southwestern Pakistan, southeastern Iran and southwestern Afghanistan) and India. Today, the last remaining lions live in a handful of protected areas in India’s Gir Forest.
Just like African lions, Asiatic lions live together in small family and social units called prides. Asiatic lion prides tend to be smaller in size than African lion prides. Most Asiatic lion prides have only two females, while an African lion pride will have 4 to 6. Males will generally only associate with the females when they are hunting large prey or during mating.
Hunting & Prey
The lion’s prey includes deer, cattle, antelope and wild pigs. Their preference is for large prey – animals that weigh considerably more than the lion itself.
Inbreeding is a top conservation issue for the lions due to the small size of the remaining population. Diseases and forest fires and poaching are also concerns. Read more about Asiatic lion conservation…
Asiatic Lion Reference Links:
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Panthera leo ssp. Persica
Asia’s Last Lions: Extinction Stalks the Asiatic Lion; National Geographic (2001)
An Intimate and Stunning Photo Portrait of the Last Remaining Asiatic Lions; Daily Mail (2013)
Pride in Place: Reintroduction of Asiatic Lions in Gir Forest, India: University of Minnesota (1999)
The Last 400 Asiatic Lions Need Room to Grow – But Where Will They Go? Scientific American (2012)
Asiatic Lion Pictures
Asiatic Lion Videos