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Threats faced by Asiatic-Lions

The Asiatic lion is an animal belonging to the cat family. And it is the only member of the cat family. That is known to live in groups, known as sprites, because of the other members of the cat family, such as the tiger. The leopard. The clouded leopard etc. They're known to be solitary creatures. Whereas Asiatic lions are known to live in groups known as sprites, which includes the male and the female lions, and as well as the cubs. The habitat of this magnificent wild animal can be found in tropical and subtropical areas where we come across vegetation, such as open dry deciduous forests, thorny forests, dry scrubland Savanna vegetation, etc. Historically, the range of this animal was spread across the Middle East and South Asia. It was known to be found in substantial numbers in today's Saudi Arabia era. Parts of Turkey, Syria, even in parts of the South Caucasus, and the Central Asian region, and as well as the Balochistan region of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It was also found across India within India, its range stretched from Bengal, that is today's West Bengal in Bangladesh, and it was found in large numbers in Madhya Pradesh Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab, and as well as in parts of Bihar. Over the years, the population of this animal has been destroyed around the world. As a result of excessive hunting and poaching. And today, its population has been restricted to only one habitat. That is the protected area of coastal Saurashtra in the state of Gujarat. The Gir Protected Area Network or the Gir conservation area is the only wild habitat of the Asiatic lions, the world, and it can be found in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. This protected area network includes the Gir National Park. The Gir sanctuary. Today, the biggest threat faced by the Asiatic lions is not hunting at poaching, because the population is quite well protected conserved in the Gir conservation area. But the biggest threat faced by the Asiatic clients is that the entire wild population is restricted to one single place in Gujarat. So this leaves them vulnerable to natural calamities, such as epidemics and forest fires a major forest fire in the region can wipe out the entire population. Similarly, a major outbreak of infectious disease can wipe out the entire population. In fact, in 2018, the Asiatic lions face such a threat. A couple of years ago, the Gir Conservation Area witnessed the outbreak of the CDD or the Canine Distemper Virus. This virus, which is known to be highly contagious and fatal to the Asiatic Lion ended up killing around 36 lions in the Gir conservation area, but fortunately, the outbreak was brought under control. That's the efforts of the forest department. The conservation groups, and the local community. Apart from this, the Asiatic lions are also threatened by religious pilgrimage in the region. There are three major temples in the Gir conservation area. And since Every year, thousands of people visit these pilgrimage sites, the environmental threat faced by the Asiatic lions increases substantially. Then, another threat faced by the Asiatic lions in the Gir conservation area is the presence of a large number of open wells. Since the region is largely dry and arid. There are several open wells and every year, several lions are known to fall into these wells and die as a result of drowning. Then of course, just like any other wild animal, the Asiatic lions are also threatened by hunting and poaching habitat destruction, and more importantly habitat fragmentation. The habitat of the Gir conservation area has been fragmented. As a result of a few highways and the railway track which passes through the protected region. So these are the various threats faced by the Asiatic lions, but their threat level increases substantially. Because the entire population has been restricted to one single location. If you look at the conservation status of the Asiatic lions. They have been listed as endangered or the IUCN Red List. As a result of this high threat level, then under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Asiatic Lions have been placed under appendix one, which prohibits their international trade under India's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. They'll be listed under schedule one, which makes the hunting and poaching, a criminal offense.
A recent census of the Asiatic lions that was conducted the census has registered a record number of lions, especially in the Gir National Park. And in the agro-pastoral landscapes of coastal Saurashtra surrounding the conservation area, and a total of 674 Lions have been recorded the census has shown that there has been a substantial increase in the population of the Asiatic lions. Over the last five years, and as well as over the last three decades from a population of just around 284 lions in 1990. Its population has jumped nearly three times to 674. As per the 2020 census. So this significant increase in the population of the Asiatic lions is a result of the conservation efforts of the Government of India and the government of Gujarat. The significance of the successful conservation effort can be gauged from the fact that the Prime Minister himself has tweeted about it. The 2020 census has shown that over the last five years, the population of the Asiatic lions has increased by nearly 29%, and the area of its geographical distribution has increased by around 36%. The success of these conservation efforts can be attributed to several factors. But the biggest credit should go to the participation of the local community in these conservation efforts. Thanks to the involvement of the local community by the state forest department and the Ministry of Environment and Forests in the conservation efforts, especially the involvement and the participation of the Maldharis community has been critical in the conservation of the Asiatic lions and its habitat Maldharis are tribal herdsmen who have been settled in the conservation area. Historically, the Maldharis were a nomadic community, found in parts of Pakistan, Rajasthan, and parts of Gujarat. But over the last four decades, they have been resettled by the government in the Gir conservation area at playing a key role in the conservation of the Asiatic lions. Being tribal herdsmen. the Maldharis take up the rearing of various cattle and other animals, and they're the only community that has been allowed to carry out grazing inside the Gir conservation area. So the resettled population of the Maldharis community plays a key role in assisting the forest officials and the conservation agencies in protecting the habitat of the Asiatic lions and as well as it tackling their hunting and poaching, along with community participation, the usage of modern technology such as radio collars GPS based tracking camera tracks and drones has enabled the scientific management of the habitat. These conservation efforts have also increased the prey base, increasing the availability of food for the lions. Apart from this, the state forests department and the central Ministry of Environment have been proactive in managing man-animal conflict incidents, and by taking adequate precautions and by providing timely compensation that mitigated the impact of these valuable conflict incidents that finally, the timely import of vaccines by the state forest department, helped them containing the outbreak of the Canine Distemper Virus in 2018. So as a result of all these conservation efforts, the population of the Asiatic lions has increased substantially. And this has been brought out during the latest census.


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