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Asiatic Lion Conservation Project


General Studies III- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Centre has drafted 25-year roadmap for Project Lion which is to be announced on August 10, World Lion Day.


  • The Asiatic Lion (also known as the Persian Lion or Indian Lion) is a member of the Panthera Leo Leo subspecies that is present in India.
    • Earlier it was also inhabited in West Asia and the Middle East before it became extinct in these regions.
  • Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions.
  • Distinctive feature always seen in Asiatic lions is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly.
  • It is one of five pantherine cats inhabiting India. Others are:
    • Bengal tiger
    • Indian leopard
    • Snow leopard
    • Clouded leopard


  • Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
  • Appendix I of CITES
  • Endangered on IUCN Red List
  • At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaryis the only abode of the Asiatic lion. In 2020, the Gujarat Forest Department announced an increase in the population of Asiatic lions in the Gir forest region.



  • Its vulnerability to unpredictable events such as a plague or a natural disaster, poaching and locals near the Gir National Park killing the lions in retaliation for attacks on livestock.



Asiatic Lion Conservation Project_3.1




  • Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” was launched by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for three financial years from 2018 to 2021 with an aim to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem.
  • The project will be funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share.
  • The Ministry in the past has supported Asiatic Lion in Gujarat by including it in list of 21 critically endangered species under the species recovery component of CSS-DWH.


  • Conservation of the Asiatic Lion, whose last remaining wild population is in Gujarat’s Asiatic Lion Landscape as Asiatic Lion is endemic to Gir landscape of Gujarat and is one of the 21 critically endangered species identified by the Ministry for taking up recovery programmes.



  • Habitat improvement” measures, making more sources of water available, creating a wildlife crime cell, and a task force for the Greater Gir region.
  • Dedicated veterinary institute, “lion ambulances”, and back-up stocks of vaccines.
  • A GPS-based tracking system for surveillance tracking, animal and vehicle tracking.
  • An automated sensor grid with magnetic sensors, movement sensors and infra-red heat sensors.


  • Project Lion was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi August 15, 2020 which aims at habitat developmentby engaging modern technologies in management as well as in addressing the issue of diseases in lion.

SIX NEW SITES IDENTIFIED FOR POSSIBLE LION RELOCATION (apart from Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh)

  • Madhav National Park, Madhya Pradesh
  • Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
  • Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
  • Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
  • Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
  • Jessore-Balaram Ambaji WLS and adjoining landscape, Gujarat


  • The motive behind finding a relocation site for the species is because the population in Gir has low genetic diversity, making it vulnerable to threats of extension from epidemics.
  • For the first time, the entire genome of the Asiatic lion has been sequenced by scientists from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and full genome sequencing of Gir lions has indicated a lack in genetic diversity in comparison to other lion populations and historical samples of Asiatic lions



  • The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh was identified to be the most suitable for reintroducing the species, but there has been no progress on the proposal.
  • The SC in April 2013 had ordered the translocation of some lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh within six months, but this hasn’t happened.


  • The Centre and Gujarat government should relocate lions to Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and then proceed with the proposals of Project Lion


Facts for Prelims

  • Asiatic Lions are listed as ‘Endangered’ under the IUCN Red List.
  • Its population is restricted to the state of Gujarat in India.
  • With serious conservation efforts of the State and the Union Government, the population of Asiatic lions have increased to over 500 which used to be around 50 by late 1890s.
  • As per the 2015 census, there were a total of 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir Protected Area Network.


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What is the IUCN status of Asiatic Lion?

The Asiatic Lion in Endangered category on IUCN Red List

Is Asiatic Lion Conservation Project centrally sponsered?

The Asiatic Lion Conservation Project is Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share.

Nane the five pantherine cats inhabiting in India?

The five pantherine cats inhabiting India are:
o Bengal tiger
o Indian leopard
o Snow leopard
o Clouded leopard

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