Asiatic Lions

You may have heard of a lion being called the “king of the jungle”. This little idiom has probably confused […]

You may have heard of a lion being called the “king of the jungle”. This little idiom has probably confused people for a long time. Lions should really be referred to as “kings of the savanna”, as this is what they primarily inhabit. Most lions live in sub-Saharan Africa, occupying grasslands, savannas, and open woodlands. Historically, lions lived throughout much of Africa, Western Asia, and India, but their range has been significantly reduced due to habitat loss and human interaction.

Historic and present range of lions


Though, there is another place in the world other than Africa where you could find lions. Asiatic lions live in the Gir Forest National Park in India!



Asiatic lions tend to be smaller in size than their African counterparts. Their manes are also smaller than African lions, which means that their ears are always visible, whereas an African lions ears are not always as clear to see. One striking difference between African lions and Asiatic lions is the longitudinal fold of skin that runs along the bellies of Asiatic lions. You will not find this in African lions.

Fold of skin on an Asiatic lion

Asiatic lions tend to have more black or gray spots in their coats compared to African lions. Another difference between them would be their tails. Asiatic lions have larger fur tufts on the ends of their tails than their African counterparts. There are also differences in their social habits, as Asiatic lions prides don’t work exactly like an African lions pride. Unlike African lions, Asiatic male lions don’t tend to live with the females of their pride unless they have a big kill or they’re mating.

Asiatic lion
African lion


The population of Asiatic lions in India’s Gir Forest is the only remaining wild population and they’re critically endangered. Sadly, there are only around 500 of these beautiful animals left in the wild today. Hunters in the nineteenth century almost wiped them off the earth. And there’s only a single area they roam. Being in a such a small area makes them more vulnerable to an outbreak of disease or any natural disaster that may occur. 



Not only do we need to worry about disease or natural disasters for Asiatic lions, but poaching and human wildlife conflict is always an issue as well. As people depend on the land and livestock, lions can certainly become a threat to them, making those people more willing to resort to extreme measures to ensure their livelihood. While farmers have to survive, so do these lions, and humans are constantly encroaching on their territory. Loss of prey is also a threat to these beautiful animals. 


Thankfully, there’s hope for these animals. There are people taking serious precautions to ensure the protection of Asiatic lions. Relocation of human settlements and livestock, as well as the protection of their habitats and prey animals, is going to help boost their population. People are actively making efforts all the time to improve life for these creatures.


Turpentine Creek isn’t home to any Asiatic lions, but we have quite a few African lions to come learn about and see!



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