Seven-week-old Asiatic lion cubs at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)’s London zoo. Photo courtesy of ZSL.
In the wild, the Asiatic lion subspecies (Panthera leo persica) survives only in India’s Gir Forest National Park in the north-western state of Gujarat with a population of just over 400 individuals. Around 90 survive in zoos. The subspecies is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Given its tiny population and the fact that it survives in a single location, the Asiatic lion continues to be threatened by in-breeding, disease, fires, and illegal mining. As well, conflict with villagers continues, and lions have been poached and poisoned in the past.
Mentioned throughout Ancient literature and history, Asiatic lions used to roam from northern Greece to the Middle East and north Africa, but were decimated by hunters and persecution over centuries.
Cubs playing. Photo courtesy of ZSL.
Sleeping cub. Photo courtesy of ZSL.
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