Lions in India Get New Sanctuary as Numbers of Asiatic Lions Soar in Their Last Stronghold

A family of Asiatic Lions in Gir National Forest – CC 3.0. Mayankvagadiya

The Indian state of Gujarat is the only place outside of Africa where one can hear the roar of a lion in its natural habitat.

Now, conservation programs have raised the numbers of these animals so much that the state government will be relocating some to a new wildlife sanctuary to expand their territory and ensure this growth continues.

The northern lion subspecies once stretched from West Africa to India, and several regional populations, including the now-extinct Barbary and Caspian lions, and the Asiatic lion in the case of India, developed unique genetic signatures.

Iran is the only place left where Asiatic cheetahs can be found, and India, where the cheetah was extirpated, managed to hold onto the Asiatic lion.

Gir National Park is 544 square miles of ideal lion territory. In 2015, the lion population was 523, while in 2010 it was 411, and 359 in 2005. With so many lions about, other states become curious if it were possible for Gujarat to share.

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For the moment, they will remain in Gujarat, though nearby Barda Wildlife Sanctuary will soon become the second protected area on Earth where these animals can be seen.

In 2013, an Indian Supreme Court ruling ordered some of the lions in Gir to be moved elsewhere to prevent disease and other dangers from imperiling the whole of the population.

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