Thursday, April 1, 2010

Asiatic Lion.

Key Facts

* Common Name - Asiatic lion
* Scientific Name - Panthera leo persica
* Geographic habitat - Gir Forest National Park, Gujarat
* Height - Approx 90cm
* Length - 200-280cm
* Weight - 200-275kg
* Population - Around 300 (359)
* Did you know? - Lion cubs are born blind
* Status - Endangered

Habitat and distribution: The Asiatic lion survives today only in the wilderness of Gir and surrounding forests of western India’s Gujarat state.

Characteristics: Asiatic lions are highly social animals, living in units called prides. Their prides are smaller than those of African lions, with an average of only two females, whereas an African pride has an average of four to six. The Asiatic males are less social and only associate with the pride when mating or on a large kill. This is thought so because their prey animals are smaller than those in Africa, requiring fewer hunters to tackle them. Another difference is that the Asiatic lion have a smaller stomach fold and mane than its African counterpart. Asiatic lions prey predominantly on deer (sambar & chital), antelope (nilgai), wild boar, and livestock.

Source: http://www.wwfindia.org/about_wwf/priority_species/asiatic_lion/

Conservation issues and WWF-India’s interventions
Conservation issues
The lions face the usual threats of poaching and habitat degradation. Three major roads and a railway track pass through the Gir Protected Area, the Asiatic Lion’s last remaining habitat. Also, there are three big temples inside the PA that attract large number of pilgrims, particularly during certain times of the year. But notably, the steps taken by the PA management and the Government of Gujarat, have led to an overall improvement in the habitat conditions and the population of lions has been increasing steadily since 1974. One such step was the relocation of about 50 maldhari nesses outside Gir, which led to improvement in lion population and its habitat.

But the increased population has resulted in their spill over the PA. Therefore, at present, the most pressing threat to the lion population of the Gir PA comes from the increasing hostility toward them from the resident human population. Due to the increase in population, about 100 lions stay outside the PA and face conflicts with humans. Though the conflict is not high now, with changing lifestyles and values these can increase in future.

An emerging threat is the number of lions falling in the open wells in the fields around Gir NP. The main reason is that wells in arable fields are unguarded. These wells have been made at ground level without any protection like parapet walls around them.

Ultimately, this single population is very susceptible to catastrophic events. Increasing the effective range of lions by connecting protected areas with lion-friendly corridors and establishing a second lion population elsewhere in India through translocation are required management options that need to materialize in the medium term future.
WWF-India interventions
The Asiatic lion is a priority species for conservation for WWF-India. Project has been initiated to construct barricades around open wells around the Gir NP to decrease the incidences of lions falling into such wells. The aim is towards long term conservation of the species, and this also includes having a viable wild population of Asiatic lion at an additional place.

The following aspects are important for long term conservation of Asiatic lion in India:

1. Strengthening overall protection measures
2. Habitat management in Gir
3. Mitigating Conflicts outside Gir PA
4. Greater Gir concept
5. Relocation of villages Jambuthala, Timbarwa and Ghodavadi villages.
Source: http://www.wwfindia.org/about_wwf/priority_species/asiatic_lion/conservation_issues/

5 comments:

Asiatic Lions said...

This is wonderful information. I have clicked some pictures of asiatic lions.

Raúl Valvert said...

Great information, just a correction. At this day, the only specimens captured and radio-collared by scientists in the field presented weights of 160-190 kg for males and 110-120 kg for females (Nowell & Jackson, 1996). There is a record of 222 kg (eviscerated), but is impossible to verified this old hunting claims (Sterndale, 1884). Even for African lions, the maximum weight reported are 225 kg (excluding stomach content; Smuts et al., 1980) for South Africa and 260 kg (including stomach content; Apps, 2000) for Namibia.

The figure of 200-275 kg constitute exaggerations that are still quoted even by some "reputed" sources.

Greetings and cheers.

Raúl Valvert said...

Good information, just a few things:

1. The weights of 200-275 kg are an exaggeration. The few lions captured and radio-collared by scientists had a weight of 160-190 kg (n=4) for males and 100-120 kg (n=2) for females (Nowell & Jackson, 1996). However this figures include stomach content (Johnsingh, 2006), so the real values could be lower than that.
There is an old record of an eviscerated lion of 222 kg (Sterndale, 1884), however is impossible to verify this claim.

2. The current population of Indian lions is above 400 specimens and is still growing, fortunately.

Raúl Valvert said...

Good information, just a few things:
1. The weights of 200-275 kg are an exaggeration. The few lions captured and radio-collared by scientists had a weight of 160-190 kg (n=4) for males and 100-120 kg (n=2) for females (Nowell & Jackson, 1996). However this figures include stomach content (Johnsingh, 2006), so the real values could be lower than that.
There is an old record of an eviscerated lion of 222 kg (Sterndale, 1884), however is impossible to verify this claim.

2. The current population of Indian lions is above 400 specimens and is still growing, fortunately.

Raúl Valvert said...

Sorry for the three posts. I believed that the first one was not posted.

Greetings and cheers.