|The Asiatic lion,
in India, is now found in only one pocket located
in the Gir National Park
of the state of Gujarat. There have been efforts
made to relocate a small number of these lions to
another park to try and ensure better survival chances
of this majestic animal. However, these plans are yet
to be put into action.
The Asiatic Lion grows to a height of approximately
90cm, with their length ranging from 200
- 280cm. Their long and hard tails grow to an
additional length of 60 - 90cm. Lions can weigh
in at between 200 - 275kgs. Their main prey
species consist of Nilgai,
Goats, Buffaloes and occasionally also other smaller
animals. The lions of Gir have made it a habit of killing
livestock and sometimes even camels.
Asiatic Lions are built similar to their
Afircan cousins but often look smaller due to their smaller
Lioness are the main hunters in any pride of lions
season is timed along with the onset of winter in
the months of October and November. Their gestation
period is 3 and a half months, with litters
ranging between 3 - 4 in number. The lionesses
breed on an average of every two years and
are ready to have their first lot of babies
around the age of 30 - 36 months. They have
a life expectancy ranging between
20 - 30 years.
Just like their
African cousins, the Asiatic males too have handsome
manes, which are absent in the females.
The Asiatic lions tend to have smaller manes
than their African cousins. The Asiatic lions however
have a bushier overall coat and also have
longer tufts of hair at the end of the tail
and on the elbow joints. The colouration of the
manes vary from lion to lion. The only rare ones are the
very dark manes, which according to a research done in
Africa are the ones prefered by lionesses!
Asiatic lions have smaller
manes than their African cousins
Lions mostly live in large prides. These prides can sometimes
have upto 3 adult males but it is always one that is the
dominant leader. The males are known for their laziness
and lordship like behaviour. The females do all the hunting,
with the males only rarely joining in when the prey is a very
large animal like an aggressive buffalo. However, once the kill
is made, the males always get the first go at the
The bonding among a family of lions is extremely
strong with aunts and sisters helping in the bringing up of
all young. Females stay with the pride all through life,
whereas the males tend to set out on their own around
the age of three. They mostly lead solitary lives then
onwards but have been known to also roam territories in pairs
and trios. These bachelors are known to be the main
threats to the dominant males leading their prides.
They are also known to kill cubs to try and get the females
into estrus once again. These bachelors are mostly
brothers that left a pride together but individual bachelors have
been known to team up with other individuals.
Lions, unlike the tiger, hunt in groups. They collectively
stalk their prey and have been commonly seen applying strategies
that would do any army commander proud. Very often some of the
females pinpoint a particular individual prey and chase
it in the direction of other lionesses waiting in ambush.
The prey is mostly killed by a quick, powerful bite to the
spine or with the help of a classic choke grip, with
the strong jaws of the lion cutting off air supply to the lungs.
Although history shows the coexistence of lions and tigers, there
is no prevalent example of this anywhere in the world at present.
Lions do coexist even in the current era with leopards
and cheetahs. However, they are extremely territorial
and attempt to kill these leopards
and cheetahs whenever their paths happen to cross. If the attempt
at relocating lions to other parts of India is finally undertaken,
it will also answer the question of whether it is possible for
two such ferociously territorial and powerful large cats to inhabit
the same jungle.
The Asiatic Lion has been declared the most endangered
large cat species in the world. Their numbers
ranging between 250 - 300, all concentrated in the same
area, they are under the constant threat of being wiped out by
some deadly epidemic. It is hoped by all conservationists that
the governing authorities settle their differences of opinion
on the best possible plan and take some action before it's too
late to save one of the most magnificent beasts to roam the planet.