Asiatic Lion 

#GS3 #Environment #Wildlife #Conservation  

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has expressed his happiness over the increasing population of the Majestic Asiatic Lion, living in Gujarat’s Gir Forest. It has been recently reported that the population of the Majestic Lion, living in Gujarat’s Gir Forest, is up by almost 29%. 

About Asiatic Lions  

  • Asiatic Lion is also called Panthera Leo Leo in India. 
  • It is restricted to the Gir Forests of Gujarat. 
  • On the IUCN Red List, it is listed under its former scientific name Panthera leo persica as Endangered because of its small population size and area of occupancy. 
  • Until the 19th century, it occurred in Saudi Arabia eastern Turkey, Iran, Mesopotamia, and from east of the Indus River to Bengal and Narmada River in Central India. 
  • The population of Asiatic lion has steadily increased since 2010. 

Asiatic Lion Conservation Project  

  • The MoEFCC had launched the “Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” in 2019 with an aim to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem. 
  • The project is funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share. 
  • Key aspects of the conservation project include undertaking “habitat improvement” measures, making more sources of water available, creating a wildlife crime cell, and a task force for the Greater Gir region. 
  • It would also involve having in place a GPS-based tracking system, which would look at surveillance tracking, animal and vehicle tracking. 
  • There would also be an automated sensor grid that would have magnetic sensors, movement sensors and infra-red heat sensors. 

About Gir National Park  

  • The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. 
  • The Gir Forests is the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions. It was declared as a sanctuary in 1965 and a national park in 1975. 
  • The Gir Forests is the largest compact tract of dry deciduous forests in the semi-arid western part of India. 
  • The Gir Forests forms a unique habitat for many mammals, reptiles, birds and insect species along with a rich variety of flora. 
  • Gir is often linked with “Maldharis” who have survived through the ages by having symbiotic relationship with the lion.  
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