Why did a group of 100 Asiatic lions reach the beaches of India?

At least one hundred Asiatic lions would have moved from the shady branches of the forest of Gir, India, to the coast

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Why did a group of 100 Asiatic lions reach the beaches of India?

As reported by Dr Nishith Dhariya to BBC at least one hundred Asiatic lions would have moved from the shady branches of the forest of Gir, India, to the coast. This is allegedly due to the destruction of their natural habitat, which has been forcing this species into forced migration.

Dr Nishith Dhariya explained: "This phenomenon shows that their natural habitat is shrinking. Normally, it is difficult for lions to adapt to the conditions of the coastal areas, but due to insufficient land, they have no other option." Shyamal Tikadar, the state forestry official, explained: "Each lion normally requires a territory of about 100 square kilometers, and this area also includes three to four lionesses who live with their cubs.

When the cub becomes an adult, it takes control of the area. territory from the old lion or leave it to find a new one. " Gir Forest had around 400 lions in 2020, while around 275 would live in the rest of the state. Of these, 104 have moved to around 300 km of Gujarat coastline.

About the Asian lion

Scholars believe that the historical range of the Asiatic lions of the Persian subspecies extended, through present-day Iran, to northern India in the east, to the northern edges of the Arabian Peninsula in the south and to present-day Greece and Italy in the west.

It should be remembered that fossil remains of cave lion, a subspecies, now extinct, closely related to the Asiatic lion, have been found in numerous sites scattered throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Siberia, Alaska and much of Europe, up to Scotland.

As mentioned, experts debate whether to consider the lions that lived in Europe during the ancient period as Asiatic lions or whether they belonged to another subspecies. Some even claim that these were the last examples of cave lions, although this hypothesis is generally considered unlikely by the scientific community.

The modern range of the Asiatic lion is restricted only to the Gir Forest Sanctuary, located in northwestern India. Until about 150-200 years ago, Asiatic lions, widespread in many regions of western and central India, shared a large part of their range with the Bengal tigers and Indian leopards, as well as with the Asian cheetahs, which have now disappeared from India.

However, Asiatic cheetahs favored open grasslands, while Asiatic lions preferred open forests mixed with grassy expanses, areas that also provide home to tigers and leopards. It is likely that Bengal tigers and Asiatic lions once competed for both prey and territory.

In India these big cats lost much of the open jungles and grasslands they lived in due to the increase in human population, which almost completely converted the plains into agricultural land. In addition, they became targets of both local hunters and British colonists.

Even today, lions are sometimes poisoned for attacking livestock. Other threats to their survival include floods, fires and epidemics. Their restricted range, in fact, makes them particularly vulnerable. In the park area between 15,000 and 20,000 open wells were dug by farmers, used for irrigation; however, they also constitute traps that have already led to death by many lions by drowning.

To counter the problem, the construction of walls around these wells was suggested, as well as the use of covered wells dug with augers.