Friday, July 3, 2009
The Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)
The Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) is a subspecies of the lion which survives today only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India where it is also known as the Indian lion or Persian lion. In 2005, the Gujarat government reported that 359 Asiatic lions were sighted in the Gir forest The Asiatic lions once ranged from the Mediterranean to the north-eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent, but excessive hunting, water pollution and decline in natural prey reduced their habitat. Historically, Asiatic lions were classified into three kinds – Bengal, Arabian and Persian lions. Asiatic lion are smaller and less aggressive than their African counterparts. Asiatic lions are similar to African forms, though they have less swollen tympanic bullae, shorter postorbital constriction, and usually have divided infraorbital foramen. The colour ranges from reddish-brown to a highly mottled black to sandy cinnamon grey.
In adult males, the maximum skull length is 330-340 mm, while that of females is 266-277 mm. They reach a weight of 150-220 Kg. for the males and 100-150 Kg. (n=2) for the females. The scientific record for the longest male is of 292 cm, while the maximum height to the shoulders reported is of 107 cm. The Captain Smee hunted a male of 268 cm long, which weight 222.3 kg, excluding the entrails. The largest known wild male, in the hunting records, was exactly 3 m (9.9 ft) in length.