Everything You Need To Know About Asiatic Lions In Sasan Gir
The Asiatic lion is a beautiful beast. It is also rare and precious. But just one epidemic or forest fire could wipe the entire species off the face of the earth. That’s because all 500 Asiatic lions live in one place—Sasan Gir Forest.
What Sets The Asiatic Lions Apart From Other Lions
1) The African and Asiatic lions are ‘cousins’ but easily distinguishable from each other.
2) Asiatic lions are smaller than the African lions.
3) When it comes to Asiatic lions, adult males are much heavier than their female counterparts. The males weigh in at around 190 kg, while the females are around 120 kg.
4) The Asiatic lion’s most distinctive feature is the longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly—this is absent among African lions.
5) The Asiatic male lion has a fairly moderate mane, which means its ears are always visible. The mane is also scanty on the lion’s cheeks and throat.
6) The colour of the Asian lion’s fur adds to its overall appearance. The colour of the fur can vary from sandy beige to black and even grey.
Gir Conservation Area
Once upon a time, the Asiatic lion could be found as far as Persia and Arabia. Slowly, its population dwindled, and by the close of the last century, only about a dozen of them were seen in their natural habitat. They’re concentrated in Gujarat’s Gir forest in Western India now.
In the good old days, these forests were royal hunting grounds for the kings, but now they are the only natural wild habitat for the world’s remaining Asiatic lions. And this is why the region has been declared a sanctuary for the conservation for these lions.
Right now, there are five protected areas dedicated to the conservation of Asiatic lions:
1) The Gir Sanctuary
2) Gir National Park
3) Pania Sanctuary
4) Mitiyala Sanctuary
5) Girnar Sanctuary
The Asiatic lions occupy the forest habitats in the two hill systems of Gir and Girnar, where large tracts of dry deciduous thorny forest provide ideal living conditions.
Save The Lion
Conservation efforts to save Asiatic lions have been on since 1910, when the Nawab of Junagadh banned hunting of lions within his province. In the 1960s, the area was converted into a National Park and Sanctuary.
Asiatic lions are always under the threat of poaching and habitat fragmentation. But thanks to the vigorous conservation efforts and strict law enforcement, their population has risen to about 500 now. The region’s locals, called maldharis (cattle-herders) have contributed to the conservation in big measure, by treating these lions as family and caring for their habitat.
To reduce overcrowding at Gir Forest, the government is trying to develop the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh as a natural habitat. Efforts are also being made to increase the green cover and relocate humans from the protected areas.
Lions are our pride and we should protect them so that our future generations can see the king of jungle.