Asiatic lions Current Affairs - 2020
On June 10, 2020, PM Modi on Twitter announced about the increase in population of Asiatic Lions.
The Asiatic Lion population has increased by 29%. It was 523 in 2015 and has increased to 674 in 2020. India has recorded 36% increase in distribution area of lions. It was 22,000 square kilo metres in 2015. In 2020, the spread increased to 30,000 square kilo metres. The Asiatic Lions are currently in the protected areas of agro-pastoral landscape of Saurashtra, Gujarat.
How did the population increase?
The Asiatic Lion population increased steadily due to the following reasons
- Community Participation
- Emphasis on Technology
- Proper Habitat Management
- Wildlife Healthcare
- Steps that minimize human-lion conflicts.
The Asiatic Lion is listed under Endangered in IUCN red list. This is mainly because of their small population size and area of occupancy.
The Asiatic Lions are found in western and middle Asia. In India there were found in the region between the Indus river in the west, till Bengal in the east and till Narmada river in the south. Today they are restricted to Gir Forest National Park.
In India, the Asiatic Lions are listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Tags: Asiatic lions • Endangered • Gir Sanctuary • Gir Wildlife Sanctuary • Indian Lion
The scientists from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s (CSIR)-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, for the first time sequenced the entire genome of Asiatic lion.
Key Highlights of Study
- The population of Asiatic lion, an endangered species is very low. At present only 523 animals are found in the Gir forests in Gujarat.
- Need for Conservation: The study of genomes unraveled evolutionary history of Asiatic lion. It noted that evaluation of genetic diversity (i.e. the total number of genetic characteristics of a species which serves as a way for populations to adapt to changing environments) placed Asiatic lion in lowest bracket of genomic diversity index which highlights the gravity of its conservation status.
- Multi-Pronged Approach: As per scientist for conservation of Asiatic lions it is crucial to adopt a multi-pronged approach. Therefore, genome study which will identifying characteristics which are specific to Asiatic lions will enable better population and disease management of endangered big cat.
- Importance: The genome sequencing of Asiatic lions would enable scientists to better understand their evolution. With better understanding they can develop specific markers to study Asiatic lion’s population genetics (it means the differences at gene level within a population) and can further get newer insights into their population status and subsequent management.
- Significance: Until now only partial genomic information of African lion is available. Therefore a comparative genomics between both African lion and Asiatic lions can only be undertaken once complete genome of African lion is sequenced. Therefore, once complete genome of African Cheetah, Royal Bengal tiger, and Jaguar will be available, the comparative studies of all these big cats would be possible.
- This signifies that final objective of scientists is to understand species at DNA level and study that if there are any specific problems with regard to adaptability of Asiatic Lion to environment or behaviour vis-à-vis other big cats.
About Asiatic Lion
- They are also known as Indian Lion, and Scientific Name is Panthera Leo Persica.
- IUCN Red List Status: Endangered
- They are also Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- At present the only home of Asiatic lion is Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
- Threats: Asiatic lion presently exists as a single sub-population. They are vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, like epidemic or large forest fire and in recent years poaching incidents were also indicated.