Gujarat in India holds the unique distinction of being the only place outside of Africa where you can hear a lion’s roar in the wild.
Thanks to conservation efforts, the lion population in Gujarat has increased so much that the local government is now planning to move some of these majestic creatures to another wildlife sanctuary. This is done to expand their living space and to further boost their numbers.
Historically, the northern lion subspecies ranged from West Africa all the way to India. Several regional lion populations, like the Barbary and Caspian lions, which are now extinct, and India’s Asiatic lion, evolved distinct genetic characteristics. While India lost its Asiatic cheetahs, it managed to preserve the Asiatic lion.
Gir National Park spans 544 square miles and is a haven for lions. The lion count stood at 523 in 2015, up from 411 in 2010 and 359 in 2005. Given the thriving lion population, other states began expressing interest in potentially housing some of these lions.
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For now, these lions will continue to call Gujarat home. However, the nearby Barda Wildlife Sanctuary is gearing up to become another protected zone where visitors can witness these lions.
Back in 2013, the Indian Supreme Court mandated the relocation of some lions from Gir to other locations. This proactive step was taken to avoid the potential risk of a single disease or threat wiping out the entire population.