India's pride in conservation scheme hurt by lions' deaths

Programme a roaring success but space, health woes raise concerns

The Asiatic lion population in Gir in the Indian state of Gujarat grew from around 20 in the early 20th century to 523 in 2015. But the risk of restricting the last surviving wild Asiatic lions to the area was highlighted recently when 23 of them die
The Asiatic lion population in Gir in the Indian state of Gujarat grew from around 20 in the early 20th century to 523 in 2015. But the risk of restricting the last surviving wild Asiatic lions to the area was highlighted recently when 23 of them died in a span of 20 days.PHOTO: ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON

Wildlife conservationists usually have to grapple with the challenge of revitalising falling numbers of endangered species. But those dedicated to the conservation of Asiatic lions are trying to get their head around a problem of plenty.

The Gir forest region in India's Gujarat, home to the last wild population of Asiatic lions, has too many of these animals within its limited confines, prompting calls for some of the carnivores to be moved to a second habitat within their former and larger historical territory.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'India's pride in conservation scheme hurt by lions' deaths'. Subscribe