Rainforest Animals - Asiatic Lion
Name: Asiatic Lion
Scientific Name: Panthera leo persica
Status: Critically Endangered
Species: P. leo
Subspecies: P. l. persica
The Asiatic lion is a subspecies of lion living in present-day India. It is the only race of lion currently surviving outside of Africa, and is considered one of the most endangered large cats in the world today. Once a dominant predator ranging across Eurasia, the Asiatic lion has since been reduced to a meager population of 300 or so animals residing within a tiny area of northeastern India. It is believed that the current population is highly inbred, having been descended from an original group of only 13 individuals. Currently conservation efforts are underway to reintroduce the species into a different portion of India.
Asiatic lions have a distinctive bellyfold not found on their African counterparts. Also in comparison, the Asiatic lion has a shaggier coat and longer tufts at the end of their tails and on their elbows. Also, it has been observed that the manes of Asiatic males are a bit sparser than those of African males. On average, the male weighs around 330 - 550 lbs, and females weigh around 260 - 400 lbs. In length, males generally top out at around 9 - 10 feet with females being considerably shorter.
Lions are carnivorous, and feed on medium to large-sized prey such as deer, wild boar, and water buffalo. Asiatic lions occur in smaller prides than their African relation. A suggested reason for this is that the prey species hunted by Asiatic lions are smaller than those of African lions, thus requiring fewer individuals to take them down.
The Asiatic lion once roamed across Eurasia, having a range that encompasses areas from Yemen in the south to the Caucasus in the north, and from Macedonia in the west to Bangladesh in the east. Today, it is confined to the Gir Forest in the state of Guajarat in India. The Gir Forest National Park is about 558 square miles of scrub and open deciduous forest habitat
Males are generally solitary, and only associate with the rest of the pride for large kills and mating. Mating occurs year-round, and the birth interval is generally 19 - 26 months. Gestation lasts around 100 - 119 days, after which time 2 - 3 cubs are usually born, each weighing about 2 - 3 lbs.
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