As a child, listening to the Panchatantra tale of the lion and the rabbit, I was quite impressed by the clever rabbit which outwitted the greedy lion and tricked it into jumping into a well. Today, however, I realize the importance of each and every species that exist in nature and their contribution to diversity and balance of the ecosystem. It is hence not joy but sadness that comes with the news of two lion cubs which inadvertently fell into open wells in two separate incidents in Gujarat and lost their lives. Asiatic Lions are an endangered species and the loss of two young lives is therefore all the more regrettable.
The last lion census conducted in 2010 showed a total of 411 Asiatic lions in Gir forests and its adjoining areas. However, about 260 lions have died due to unnatural causes in the last five years; 11 of those in the Saurashtra region since January this year.
- Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides.
- Only male lions boast manes.
- Males defend the pride’s territory. They mark the area with urine, roar threateningly to warn intruders, and chase off animals that intrude on their kingdom; perhaps that gave them the title “King of the jungle”.
- Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters. They often work together to prey upon large mammals.
- After the hunt, the group effort often gives way to fights over the sharing of the kill, with cubs getting least priority. Young lions join the pride hunt only when they are about a year old.
- If required, lions will even hunt alone, and sometimes also steal kills from hyenas or wild dogs.
This article was originally written and published by Ramya Naresh, a contributing writer for indiasendangered.com. For the original article and more information, please click HERE.