Today we talk about the Asian lion which is less popular in France than the African lion as well as the white lion, however it is just as interesting. The Asian lion also called Persian lion or Asiatic lion is a subspecies of lion. To date, the last specimens of Asian lions are found in Gir National Park and around the state of Gujarat in India.
Here are the main characteristics of the lion:
COMMON NAMES: Asian Lion, Asian Lion
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Persian Lion (Panthera leo persica, Panthera leo sinhaleyus)
TYPE : Mammal
FOOD PLAN: Carnivore
Average lifespan in nature: 16 to 18 years
WEIGHT : 130 to 230 Kg
HEIGHT COMPARED TO A MAN OF 1.80 M :
1) Discovery and Genetics of the Asiatic Lion
Fossil remains of Panthera spelaea indicate that it was a genetically isolated and very distinct lineage. In addition, fossils of the predator have been found in Pleistocene deposits in West Bengal.
A study on the evolution of lions was made using 357 samples of captive and wild lions from their habitat in Africa and India. This study reports four lion population lineages including : One within central and northern Africa to Asia, one in Kenya, one in southern Africa, and one in southern and eastern Africa.
The first wave of lion spread is assumed to have originated about 118,000 years ago, from East Africa to West Asia, and the second wave of the Late Pleistocene or Early Holocene, from Southern Africa to East Africa.
It is important to note that the Asiatic lion is genetically closer to Barbary (North African) Lion and western than to the group comprising lions of eastern and southern Africa. This discrepancy probably occurred about 186,000-128,000 years ago. The Asian lion is thought to have remained related to the lions of North and Central Africa until the gene flow was interrupted by the extinction of lions in Europe and the Middle East.
The first time this dominant male was described was in 1826 by the Austrian zoologist Johann n. Meyer. These wild animals were present in Saudi Arabia until the 19th century and also in Iran, Mesopotamia. At that time the feline was also present from eastern Turkey east of the Indu River, in central India and in Bengal, in Narmada. At the arrival of the 20th century, it was only found in the Gir Forest National Park and nearby areas.
2) The Asiatic Lion Nowadays
The 14th census of Asian lions was carried out in May 2015, this census covers an area of about 20,000 Km². The lion population was valued at 523 specimens, including 109 males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs.. In August 2017, observers counted 650 wild lions.
Almost all wild lions live in sub-Saharan Africa, but there is a small population of Asian lions in the Gir Forest in India. The dry teak woods of the Gir Forest were once a royal hunting ground. Today it is a reserve where this endangered species is highly protected. The Asian lion and the African lion are subspecies of the same species.
On the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) we learn that the Asian lion is extremely vulnerable, it is listed under its former scientific name “Panthera leo persica” as endangered (EN = endangered in English) because of its small population size and area of occupancy. Unfortunately this contributes to the impoverishment of our world heritage.
3) Groups of Lions
Lions are the only wild animals that live in groups, called pride. Pride is a family unit that can include up to three males, a dozen females and their young. All the lionesses in a pride are related and the lionesses usually stay with the group as they get older. Young males eventually leave and may establish their own pride by taking over a group led by another male.
4) Males and Females
Only male lions boast a mane, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their head. Males defend the territory of pride. They mark the area with urine, roar menacingly to warn intruders, and chase away animals that encroach on their territory.
Female lions are the main pride hunters. They often work together to prey on large mammals.
After the hunt, the group effort often degenerates into quarrels about sharing the kill, with the young at the bottom of the hierarchy. Young lions do not assist the pride hunt until they are about a year old. Lions will hunt alone if the opportunity arises, and they will also steal prey from hyenas or wild dogs.
For the more avid felines with imposing manes, our team offers a range of statues including a Foo Lion Statue available in the collection below.