Asiatic Lion

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Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica).
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Critically endangered lion now found only in India

What
The Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) is a subspecies of the lion now found only in India.

Asiatic Lions once ranged from the Mediterranean to India, covering most of West Asia where it was also known as the Persian Lion.

About
The Asiatic Lion grows to a height of approximately 90cm, with their length ranging from 200-280cm. Their long and hard tails grow to an additional length of 60-90cm.

Lions can weigh in at between 200-275kg.

Their numbers range between 250-300.

Their main prey species consist of nilgai, chital, sambhar, goats, buffaloes and occasionally also other smaller animals.

Compared to its African counterpart, the males of the Indian lion have a scantier mane and a characteristic skin fold at the belly. In fact you can always tell the difference between an African male lion and Asiatic male lion because their ears are always visible, whereas on an African lion they are always hidden by the mane.

Asiatic lions are also slightly smaller than their African cousins, although the largest Asiatic lion on record was an imposing 2.9 m in length.

Though they have a less well developed mane, Asiatic lions have thicker elbow tufts and a longer tail tuft.

Why?
Lions, unlike the tiger, are communal and hunt in groups. They collectively stalk their prey and have been commonly seen applying strategies that would do any army commander proud.

The prey is mostly killed by a quick, powerful bite to the spine or with the help of a classic choke grip, with the strong jaws of the lion cutting off air supply to the lungs.

Your chances of seeing one in the wild
Seemingly there is only one known wild population that can be found in Gir Forest National Park in India.

It is critically endangered and there are fears about inbreeding. However, the chances of seeing on in the wild (in the Gir Forest National Park) are seemingly good.

They are listed in CITES Appendix 1.

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