The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) is a subspecies which currently lives only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images.
On April 15th, 2013, the Supreme Court of India issued a ruling that some of the Asiatic lions living in the state of Gujarat must be relocated to Madhya Pradesh within six months. Gujarat is now appealing the ruling. Supporters of the move say that the Gujarat population of Asiatic lions has grown too large for the area. They also believe that relocation could minimize the dangers of having the last remaining Asiatic population in one location. Gujarat is challenging the ruling with new research data that shows the existing lions are spread out over many more miles than previously thought. State representatives also claim that the relocation of large carnivores over the years has been unsuccessful.
The Asiatic lion is a big cat and listed as “endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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The Asiatic lion is an endangered lion subspecies that inhabits Gujarat (The Land of the Legends), a state in India. There are currently less than 500 Asiatic lions in existence. Only 13 Asiatic lions were in existence in 1907, when an Indian prince banned hunting the lions.
In 1965, the Gujarat’s Gir National Park and Gir National Sanctuary began protecting the lion to prevent its extinction. Today, the Pania Sanctuary, Girnar Sanctuary and Mitiyala Sanctuary also provide a safe haven for the lion.
According to an article in Scientific American, the Asiatic lions have so far been saved from extinction, but are now outgrowing their safe environment and facing new survival issues.
“…the lions themselves are killed or injured when they come into contact with crude, deadly electric fences built around farms or fall in any of the tens of thousands of roughly hewn open wells in the region.”
The Wildlife Conservation Trust of India’s Asiatic lion website has detailed information on the lion, including statistics, habitat and conservation data. The group is also involved in the Sakkarbaug Zoo Asiatic lion breeding program.
Map of Gujarat in India
Asiatic Lion Photo Credit: Gangasudhan at en.wikipedia