It is said the Asiatic Lion is the same species as that which once roamed ancient Greece, and fought the Romans in the Colosseum. Today, this species of lion listed as “endangered” by the IUCN, exists in only once place in the world, Gir National Park in Gujarat, India.
In 1900, the Asiatic Lion, smaller and genetically different from their African cousins, were on the brink of extinction, with less than 20 in the wild. But the Nawab of Junagadh, once responsible for hunting the species, ordered their conservation. Since then, Gujarat's big cats have clawed back to numbers exceeding 500. The last census revealed the presence of 523 lions in the Gir forest area, with researchers pointing to a population growth-rate of 8 percent every five years. The next census is due in 2020.
Gir National Park itself is 1,600 square kilometres, not enough for the expanding lion population. Many lions have been seen in areas surrounding the national park, raising concerns for their safety. With the possibility of natural disaster (disease, flood, fire etc) threatening to wipe out the entirety of the lion population in a single stroke, translocation to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh has been considered. Initially opposed by Narendra Modi, then as Gujarat’s Chief Minister, on the nationalistic grounds that the lions were Gujarat’s pride alone, the Supreme Court has since ruled in favour of translocation. But spatial considerations in Madhya Pradesh (Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary) have delayed the move.
Getting there: If flying from Mumbai, a short flight to Diu domestic airport and a two-hour road-trip will get you to the town of Sasan Gir, where park gates are located. Plenty of accommodation.
#asiaticlion #asiaticlions #lioness #lion #lions #girnationalpark #gujarat #india #wildlife #wildlifephotography #wildlifeconservation #conservation #sasangir #sasangirforest #somnath #junagadh #endangeredspecies #endangered #indianwildlife #bigcats #bigcatsofinstagram #bigcatsofindia (April, 2018).