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Gir National Park, India

(Panthera leo persica)

IUCN status : Endangered

Asiatic Lion is an endangered species of Lion which is found only in Gir NP, India. There is no other place in the world where a wild population exists. They have split from their African brethren 100,000 years ago. They are smaller in size and sport a relatively short, sparse and darker mane. Shorter mane makes the ears visible. The most distinguishing characteristic of the Asiatic lion is the longitudinal fold of skin that runs along its belly. This is absent in African lions. Unlike the African lion, the Asiatic lion does not live with the females and the cubs except during mating season. The females and cubs live in a group called pride.

Home range of a male lion is 144 to 230 sq km. They eat large number of ungulates including spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, four-horned antelope, chinkara, and blue bull. Asiatic lions may live up to 16 or 18 years in the wild. Females have shorter life span as compared to males. At one point of time there were only 12 left. Tremendous conservation efforts have brought up the population to 523. Today, the remaining wild lions are vulnerable to disease, disaster and potential poaching, and have to live alongside a growing human population that also needs the land for cattle and crops.

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