Home General Studies Environment

Lions: Asiatic Lion, African Lion & Lion census 2020

news-details Image Source Aug 16, 2021 17:14 IST · 2 min read

Asiatic Lions

The Asiatic Lion (Persian Lion or Indian Lion) is a member of the Panthera Leo Leo subspecies that is restricted to India. Its previous habitats consisted of West Asia and the Middle East before it became extinct in these regions.

Asiatic lions were once distributed to the state of West Bengal in east and Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, in central India. At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.

In 2020, the Gujarat Forest Department announced an increase in the population of Asiatic lions in the Gir forest region.

Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions.

Its vulnerability to unpredictable events such as a plague or a natural disaster, poaching and locals near the Gir National Park killing the lions in retaliation for attacks on livestock.

IUCN Red List: Endangered
CITES: Appendix I
Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule I

The Asiatic Lion Conservation Project has been launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for three financial years from 2018 to 2021.

African Lions

African lions once roamed most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe. But the species has disappeared from 94 percent of its historic range and can only be found today in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

These lions mainly stick to the grasslands, scrub, or open woodlands where they can more easily hunt their prey, but they can live in most habitats aside from tropical rainforests and deserts.

Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are a subspecies of African lion, but only one very small population survives in India's Gir Forest.

The IUCN estimates that fewer than 25,000 lions remain in Africa, which is why the organization classifies them as vulnerable to extinction.

World Lion Day - 10th August

World Lion Day is celebrated on August 10 of every year to raise awareness about lions and to mobilise support for their protection and conservation.

Lion census 2020

The first Lion Census was conducted by the Nawab of Junagadh in 1936. Since 1965, the Forest Department has been regularly conducting the Lion Census every five years.

The 6th, 8th and 11th Censuses were each delayed by a year, for various reasons.

Census of Asiatic lion was recently conducted by the Gujarat government:

1) 28% rise in population of Lions: Total estimated Lions in Gir region is 674, it was 523 in 2015.

2) 36% Expanse in distribution: Today, Asiatic lions are present in Protected Areas and agro-pastoral landscapes of Saurashtra covering nine districts, over an expanse of about 30,000 sq. km. It was 22,000 sq. km in 2015.

This year, the count was estimated not from a Census, but from a population "observation" exercise called Poonam Avlokan.