Asiatic Lion, also known as the Indian Lion, is one of the most endangered species of the world. Once, they used to inhabit Asia Minor as well as Arabia. However, today their population has been restricted only to the Gir National Park of India. Since ancient times, Asiatic lion has been regarded as symbol of human power and sovereignty in India. Emperor Asoka also used lion as a symbol of strength in Sarnath Lion capital, around 2000 years ago. It is estimated that there are around 300 Asiatic Lions in the wild and over 50 are held in captivity in zoos and animal parks of the country.
Second only to tiger in length, the Indian lion (male) can grow as long as 9 feet, with its tail being about one-third of the entire length. The male lions in India can reach upto a height of 4 feet and weighs somewhere around 150 kg to 250 kg. One finds the Asiatic lioness, as brutal and fierce as her male counterpart, a little smaller in size. She can grow upto a height of 107 cm and weighs between 120 kg and 180 kg. Another major difference between a lion and a lioness is that males have manes, which females don't.
Male lions can range in color from orange-yellow to dark brown. Asiatic lion seems to be a little different from the African one, the major difference being that of a shorter mane. However, overall, the Indian lions come across as bushier and have longer tufts of hair, at the end of the tail as well as on the elbow joints, to boast of. The color of manes differs from lion to lion, with the rarest being that of black color. Asiatic Lions are generally seen in open grasslands or forests, including scrub jungle.
Asiatic lions mostly move in large groups, known as prides. Prides have been known to normally consist of around 15 members, including a few related lionesses, their cubs and a few males. A pride can be found to have upto three adult males. However, there will be only one male that will dominate the rest of the group, including the other males. In a pride, it is always the lionesses that do the entire work, including the hunting. Only in case of very ferocious prey does a male lion join in the hunting game.
Once the prey is killed, the males are always the first ones to have the meal. The lionesses as well as the cubs eat the leftovers. The members of a pride are very attached to each other. Most of the lionesses remain with the pride throughout the life, while, lions leave it the moment they attain three years of age. Some of the males spend their entire life in isolation and do not join any pride. They pose a great danger to the other lions leading their pride. Asiatic lions are also known to hunt in groups and one can rarely find a lion stalking in isolation. The staple diet of Indian lions consists of deer, antelope and wild cattle.
|Conservation Efforts | Current Status | Asiatic Lion Facts|