ASIATIC LION (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     11th March 2024        
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Context: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently reclassified the Asiatic lion from "endangered" to "vulnerable", marking a positive shift in its conservation status since it was categorized in 2008.

Asiatic Lion

  • About: It is also called the Persian or Indian Lion, was once found across West Asia and the Middle East before facing extinction in these regions.
  • Morphological Distinctions: Compared to their African counterparts, Asiatic lions are slightly smaller in size and possess a distinctive longitudinal fold of skin along their belly.
  • Distribution: Previously ranged from West Bengal to Madhya Pradesh, now restricted solely to Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
  • Population Increase: The Gujarat Forest Department reported a rise in the Asiatic lion population within the Gir forest region in 2020.
  • Threats to Survival: Vulnerability to diseases, poaching, and conflicts with locals pose significant threats to the survival of Asiatic lions, particularly around Gir National Park.
  • Protection Status: Listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, categorized under Appendix I of CITES, and protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 in India.
  • Conservation Initiatives: The "Asiatic Lion Conservation Project," initiated by the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, aims to involve communities and multi-sectoral agencies for the scientific management and conservation of Asiatic lions.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

  • About: IUCN was founded in 1948 as the International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN).
  • In 1956, the organization was renamed IUCN.
  • Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland.
  • IUCN Red List: The most extensive record of the worldwide conservation status of plant and animal species across the globe.
  • IUCN Red Data Book: It is a publicly available document designed to record endangered and rare species of plants, animals, fungi, and certain local subspecies found in a specific region.
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