The Asiatic Lion

Panthera Leo Persica

The Asiatic Lion is the last surviving lion outside the African continent. Once upon a time, these regal animals roamed all over the Indian Subcontinent, Persia, and West Asia.

India is the only country where less than 500 of these majestic creatures remain, and only in a remote corner of Western India, in the Gir Forest.

Slightly smaller than their African cousins, Asiatic lions are distinguished by a long fold of skin which runs along its belly.

They are smaller in size than African lions, and the males have shorter manes and tails. While hunting them is illegal, they often succumb to habitat conflict and have been known to fall into wells or get run over by a train. Given the tiny size of the population, they are vulnerable to inbreeding.

Relocating the lion population into other forest is a hot debate in Indian conservation circles.

While some believe that the feline would thrive better in a new habitat, others believe that it would do the population more harm than good.