Video of Asiatic lion in Gujarat, India
This is a neat little Twitter video of an Asiatic lion wandering onto farmland, not that far from the farmer who captured the video, and towards another Asiatic lion who is resting on the farmland. It is a day in the life of farmers near this famous lion reserve. I sense that they are used this as they don’t seem perturbed.
Gujarat, India, is the state in which the Gir National Park exists and within that park, historically, it is said that there were about 400 Asiatic lions. The last remaining wild population on the planet.
And clearly, they meander outside the confines of the park to farmland adjacent to it.
An interesting aspect of the video is that the lion pays absolutely no attention whatsoever to the farmer. Perhaps they have become habituated to them.
The Asiatic lion looks a little bit different to the African lion and I discuss that difference in an article which you can read by clicking on the link below. In general, the Asiatic lion has a smaller mane than the African lion.
The Asiatic lion is the only lion species present in India. The cheetah was extirpated from India many years ago, but the authorities have just imported several of them to try and reap wild country with cheetahs.
In May 2015, the 14th Asiatic Lion Census was conducted over an area of 7700 mi² and the population estimated to be at 523 individuals. That is a little more than what has been historically stated as mentioned above.
They estimated that the population in 2015 comprised 109 adult males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs.
In August 2017 a further survey counted 650 wild lions and in June 2020 a further estimate counted 674 Asiatic lions in the Gir forest region
I mention the surveys because you can see that the numbers on their estimates are going up. If the estimates are accurate (and there’s always some doubt that they are) it must be very pleasing to the authorities in India.
The Asiatic lion is now only found in the Gir National Park. In days gone by, their distribution extended to Arabia, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Baluchistan. In South Caucusia (a region on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia) which is present-day Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, it was known since the Holocene era. It became extinct in the 10th century, and I presume that was because of persecution by humans.
By the 19th century this species of lion had become extinct in Saudi Arabia and Turkey and the last known lipn in Iraq was killed on the lower Tigris in 1918.
In India, its distribution was much wider than today going as far eastward as Madhya Pradesh in the early 19th century. In fact, it once ranged to Bangladesh in the East which is the opposite side of India to the National Park where they now reside.
British officers appear to have killed many Asiatic lions. For example, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a British officer shot 300 lions. It appears that they were mainly made extinct in large parts of India in the late 1800s.
For example, one lion was killed near Allahabad in 1866 and lions were exterminated in Palamau by 1814. That gives you a feel for how and when the Asiatic lion became almost extinct in India and therefore in the world. They were saved in this national park where they are now protected.