Asiatic Lions : Pride of Gujarat

Majority of all wild lions in the world reside in the sub-saharan Africa. But one small fraction of lion lives in India as well. These are the Asiatic lions. These small proportions of Asiatic lions exist in GIR forest of Saurashtra region, Gujarat.  Asiatic and African lions are sub spices of the same kind of wild lions.  They sneaked from Middle East to India. Currently, very few among them survive now. Let me, give you a brief about the “ASIATIC LIONS” residing in Gujarat state.

Scientific name of the species: Panethra leo Persica
Life span:  They live for 16-18 years.
Status: Endangered
Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivores

In present time, there are approximately 700 Asiatic lions in the forest. They are slightly smaller than the African lions. The most differentiating factor between the two lion species is the skin. The longitudinal skin in belly of Asiatic lions gives them a look different from African lions.

Where are Asiatic lions found in Gujarat?

Asiatic lions are seen mostly in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. There are only 5 places in Gujarat where you can spot Asiatic lions. They are: Junagadh district (268 lions), Amreli district (174 lions), Gir Somnath (44 lions), Bhavnagar district (37 lions) and Devalia Safari Park. They are remnant forest habitants live in two hill systems of Gir & Girnar. In gir, there are 5 protected areas where these Asiatic lions get good care. They are: Gir Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Pania Sanctuary (to from the Gir Conservative Area (CGA)), and two wildlife sanctuary Mitiyada and Girnar.

Asiatic Lion Statistics:

The graph of wild lion is declining now and then. Gir National park encircles an area of 550 square miles of dense forest comprising of teak wood, banayan tree and else. As per the counting of 2015 statics, there are 523 wild lions in Gir National Park and more than 300 leopards.

 Why the ratio is declining?

Asiatic lions are in danger if we look in the present scenario. There are several reasons behind this. Some of them are mention as under:

  1. Asiatic lions have a life span of 15-18 years but some of them become old after 9-10 years.
  2. In them, around 60 died in natural death.
  3. Around 32 died out of unnatural death. Unnatural deaths are such as death due to electrocution and death in the railway tracks.

Ram, India’s oldest Asiatic lion died in 2016 in Gir.

Increasing Ratio since 2015:

Past five years has been an achievement for the forest department. They said that there is a rise in population of Asiatic Lion with a rate of 29%. In Gir National park, the number of lions were 523 in 2015 which increased to 674 in 2020. The department has also widened the distribution area of lions by 36%. Prior, it was 22,000 sqkm in year 2015 but presently it is 30,000 These lions were in a verge of extinction but the steady growth in their number in recent years is a matter of pride. The constant hard work of the department, increasing the awareness regarding lions, importance, emphasis on technology, heath regime, adequate habitat and eradication of human conflicts has helped in increasing the ratio of this species.

Steps taken to protect them:

Central government is taking various steps to protect lions. These lions are in verge of extinction. They are in much need of protection and care. There are several guidelines given by central government with respect to Asiatic lions. They are as follows:

  1. The central govt. allocated Rs. 59 crore in 2019 for the conservation of these lions.
  2. The state has deployed security guards to protect the lions from poachers.
  3. Veterinary support is provided to the lions suffering with diseases. Funds for developing specialised veterinary hospitals and full fledged ambulances for lions have been allocated.
  4. Ministry of Environment has launched a three-year (2019 to 2021) and Rs.98 crore Asiatic Lion Conservation Project in collaboration with the state of Gujarat. The project will use modern information and communication technology for conservation and protection efforts of the Great Gir Region, including GPS-based animal and vehicle tracking, automated sensor grid with movement sensors, night vision capability and real-time monitoring and report generation.

Apart from this, various awareness programs and skits are shown to the people to make them understand about the situation. Asiatic lions are the pride for Gujarat. It is our obligatory duty to safeguard them.

Shrutika Roy

A Law student chasing out the dream of writing.

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