1. The decline in the number of lions in Africa is alarming. But in India resides the often-forgotten Asiatic lion which is doing marginally better. At least for now. Because politicians could doom them soon.
2. The Asiatic lion is a little smaller than its African cousins but it’s still majestic.
Even its scientific name, Panthera leo persica, has an impressive ring to it.
5. In 2010, there were 411 Asiatic lions in the wild. They’re probably the only lions that enjoy snow.
7. And the cubs! OMG CUTE.
They need to be looked after by the adults for a year or so. During that time, they basically live to do terribly cute things. Like having a nap on their sibling.
Or licking their little paws without any worry in the world. Heartmelting.
Just so you know, this little guy will probably eat a chunk of you without hesitation. Still cute though!
10. When they grow up, most male lions will leave to form or steal their own families. The lions are very social animals and their families, formed or stolen, are just beautiful.
Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. This is convenient because they mostly hunt in packs. Just like their African cousins, the females are the main hunters while the males guard the pride’s territory by menacingly roaring, chasing and, yep, urinating.
When not roaring, chasing and urinating, papa lion finds time to give his son a bit of a spanking.
Or maybe get a cuddle from his much-more-caring daughter.
But it’s no rest for mommy who has to take care of this little guy.
14. The problem for Asiatic lions is that despite all those families, they all still form part of one population, living in one forest in one state of one country. Which pretty much sucks because it means they can all be wiped out by one catastrophic event.
Drought, forest fire, epidemic, war, meteorite strike, alien invasion. Okay those last two are rather unlikely to happen but you get the idea. They are all sadly vulnerable.
15. To maximise their diversity, conservationists have been trying to relocate some Asiatic lions to other areas. But quarreling Indian politicians have effectively been blocking all attempts for 20 odd years.
The Gujarat state government is to this day voraciously opposed to the relocation of some of its lions to the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh. Why? Apparently Madhya Pradesh’s gun culture and less generous people will not be able to look after the lions properly.
But if the lions’ wellbeing were really close to Gujarat’s heart, why did it send two pairs of Asiatic lions to a zoo in northern India where “visitors can drive through a thoroughfare, spotting lions roaming in the safari”?
16. Because of the follies of inept politicians, the magnificent Asiatic lion is always one blink, or yawn, away from disappearing forever.
To make matters worse, their numbers have recently plateaued. It is probably not a surprise that this coincides with more and more reports of poaching incidents in recent years.